Yesterday, this clip from BBC News popped up on Twitter, in which a small child appears to materialize in the background of a woman-on-the-street interview.
WTF… does anyone else see the child teleport? pic.twitter.com/P0ju9J9cby
— @realTewkesburyBC (@TewkesburyLeak) December 12, 2018
If you watch the woman’s face at the same time the boy appears, you can see her expression morph into a smile.
This technique is known as a Morph Cut, a feature added to Adobe Premiere Pro in 2015, intended to smooth transitions in interview footage, removing unwanted pauses, stutters, and filler words (“like,” “um,” and “uh”) without hard splices and cuts.
The results, when used appropriately in interview footage without a changing background, can be nearly seamless.
It’s likely that BBC News used a morph cut in the clip above to tighten up the interview without changing its meaning. But it’s also ripe for abuse and fully capable of altering the meaning of an interview, and in many cases, undetectable.
I’ve known radio interviews were edited like this for years, but the BBC News clip is the first time I’ve seen the technique used in a video interview… or is it?
How many times have you watched footage that was subtly modified using off-the-shelf software, and never knew? Would you ever notice? Would you care?