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Is morphing used in stop-motion? One could cut down on the frames substantially.

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Comment by StopmoNick on April 12, 2021 at 7:19pm

Warping can be used to add a little jiggle to the flesh, or some help with face shapes in lip synch maybe.  I did some dinosaur animation for someone, and he added some bounce to the flesh when the foot hit the ground.  He also put in a bit of nostril flare as it blew out a puff of air, with a little steam added as well.  These were things the puppet could not do itself.  I have used a little bit of warping when adding eye blinks, it's mostly painting on the eyelids but a bit of stretch on the skin around it can improve it.  Those aren't morphing though, since you don't blend two frames together.   I don't think morphing would be much use as a way of reducing the number of frames you have to animate.  It might be a way to save a shot you already did, if it needs more frames, especially if you couldn't go back and re-shoot it. You would do whatever you have to, even if it took longer than animating.  

I have played with in-betweening software (in AE) to slow the motion down, but it really works best when the puppet is shot against green screen or a completely plain background, as it can drag bits of the background along as well.   I imagine that would be the case with morphing as well, you want to isolate the puppet so you don't distort the set behind it.  And I don't do that so I can save time by animating half as many frames, I do it to get a slower movement than I was able to manage with the puppet, usually to give it scale.  It works best at tracking the pixels when the moves are already small.  Even with no background, you can get issues when part of the puppet crosses over another part of the puppet, like arms and legs crossing during a walk.  I can see that being an issue with morphing as well.  

It might be useful for facial expressions though.   If morphing had been around when Ray Harryhausen did his fairy tales back in the early fifties, it would have helped.  He did a short dissolve from one head to another to change expression, and morphing would have worked much better.  

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