WinImages: morph. (graphics special effects software) (Software Review) (Evaluation)
by Steven Anzovin
Did you feel a thrill when T1000 oozed through the bars in Terminator 2? Did you record Michael Jackson's "Black or White" video so you could play it for yourself in even heavier rotation? Do you watch "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" just to see Odo reconstitute himself from a chair or a wine bottle? If so, you're a nut for morphing, the latest fad in computer graphics speecial effects with, as far as is known, no practical use other than to create startling eye candy.
Morphing comes in two flavors. Transition morphing is the process of smoothlyh combining two images into a third that has some of the characteristics of both. Distortion morphing takes an image and radically distorts it to create something weird. For example, if you transition-morph pictures of a lady and a tiger, you get a new image of a tiger-woman. Or you can distortion-morph a face to give it a Klingon forehead, a Pinocchio nose, Ferengi ears, and other bizarre features.
WinImages: morph does both kinds of morphs, and it does them well. This is a program for the true morph enthusiast. you can create single or multiple images in a single distortion-morph operation, precisely controlling which parts of each image will morph together. Distortion morphs are completely free-form, with precise boundary control. WinImages: morph reads most kinds of graphics files and creates animation sequences in full 24-bit color in AutoDesk FLI format. You can even break up an animation rendering and distribute it over many PCs--a useful feature, since a 24-bit, 30-frame morph animation can take hours to render on even a fast 486. You'll need 4MB of RAM to run the program, but Black Belt recommends 8MB of memory for optimal performance.
WinImages:morph is even easy to use, once you've grapsed the basic concepts. (The online manual isn't great, but you'll be able to figure out most features with a little experimentation.) The real skill is in knowing how to choose control points and define boundaries for the best morph effects. You'll gain that skill only through experience. I recommend working with 259-color, single-image output before trying your hand at animation.
Onc caveat: As a slick special effect, morphing was hot two years ago. Today, even though morphing is new to the PC, people may not be impressed. You'll have to come up with something really spectacular to evoke the same awe Terminator 2 did back in 1991. But WinImages:morph certainly gives you the tools and the power to do it.