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MorphBuster has features that enable you to quickly and easily morph, warp, and pan images into impressive animations. These features can be used either on a standalone basis or together. MorphBuster is excellent for beginners, yet intriguing and practical enough to satisfy professional designers.
Still wondering what morphing is? It’s derived from “metamorphosis.” Yep, just like a butterfly: the profound transformation from one stage to another. The concept behind "technical" morphing is to produce a series of images, which when merged together create an animation of the transition from the start image to the end image.
I can’t take complete credit for this review; I had some help from my ten-year-old son, Izaac. I wanted to see how kid-friendly MorphBuster was. I opened the application and let him go at it. He was able to produce some pretty remarkable animations in only a short period of time. Izaac had no problems reading through the tutorials and teaching himself how to use the application.
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Installation & SetupRating What's Hot:
Installation and set up was a snap. I installed MorphBuster on a computer running Vista and didn’t have any issues. MorphBuster works with Windows 2000, XP, and Vista.
MorphBuster allows you to try before you buy and the trial version remains fully functional for seven days. I like this because so many applications that provide a trial of their product have many features that are limited or disabled, preventing you from getting the full feel of the software.
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Price to ValueRating What's Hot:
I think MorphBuster is probably the hottest product on the market in terms of price to value. At only $25, it’s cheaper than the competition but is loaded with extras that are absent in similar products.
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User InterfaceRating What's Hot:
In the Real Time Preview panel, you can view your project playing forwards and backwards, or in a continuous loop. The option selected determines the manner in which your project is saved and subsequently displayed.
There are three view modes: Full View, Edit Only, and Preview Only. I found that I always worked in Full View, but it’s certainly nice to have the other options available.
[Insert screen Full View]
To create a morph, you start by placing Control Dots on key parts of your image, such as around the eyes and mouth. When you have your project in Full View or Edit View, the Start image is on the left and the End image is on the right. Simply select the "Add/Edit/Delete Control Dots" button (yup, that’s what it’s actually called!) from the main tool bar, and then click the Start image in the location that you want to place the initial dot. This action will also result in a dot being applied to the End image. You’ll then need to drag the dot on the End image to the position that matches the dot’s location on the Start image (the corner of the left eye, for example). You continue placing dots until the key areas have been outlined. When a lot of dots have been placed, the screens could start to look cluttered and confusing. Thankfully, MorphBuster keeps everything clear and easy. The dot on the End image flashes until the next dot is placed, making it easily identifiable in the sea of other dots. You can also alter the size and the color of the dots so that they always remain clear--irrespective of the color of the image onto which they are being placed.
[Insert screen Control Dots]
There are three ways to import images: via the Open Image button on the toolbar, via File -> Import, or via drag-and-drop from an external program.
Images cannot be copied and pasted into MorphBuster. To my mind, this is only a very minor setback, but it’s a feature that other people may like to see introduced.
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Product FeaturesRating What's Hot:
MorphBuster not only lets you morph images, but you can also warp and pan (zoom). You can use these features separately or combine them to create an interesting and quite impressive animation. When combining these techniques, your dull family photo from last year’s Christmas dinner suddenly jumps to life. Your grumpy teenage son is finally smiling, your husband’s hair is finally the way you’ve wanted it for years and, when the photo pans in on Grandma, she morphs into creepy Uncle Larry and winks at you--all right before your eyes!
MorphBuster supports all the common image formats (BMP, GIF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, and TGA), which can be selected from a drop-down menu when opening an image. You can also export your project to a variety of formats--image sequence, GIF animation, AVI movie, Flash movie, web page (HTML), standalone EXE, or screensaver.
There is no need to use other applications to edit your images beforehand. MorphBuster has all the tools you need to touch up your images . You can crop, resize, rotate, and flip both horizontally and vertically and add art media effects. You can also add text to your images--something that many other applications do not enable you to do. Another added bonus is the ability to edit the light and color of an image or to apply a filter that, for example, softens or blurs the image. The following screenshot show a morph in which a colored chalk effect is applied.
[Insert screen Colored Chalk Morph Effect]
MorphBuster lets you view and play your animation in real time without needing to export or save your project. This feature is an excellent timesaver--it allowed me to easily preview changes and to make whatever alterations I felt necessary.
A feature which impressed my son was MorphBuster’s ability to print individual frames. After he created a morph, he could pause the animation mid-morph and simply go to File -> Print and, voila, he had a photo of himself as half-boy/half-dog that he could show off to all his friends.
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PerformanceRating What's Hot:
Because MorphBuster uses OpenGL, it’s able to reap the benefits of hardware acceleration to smoothly render animations at several hundred FPS (frames per second).
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Help & SupportRating What's Hot:
I emailed MorphBuster’s technical support twice, and both times I received very prompt and helpful replies. MorphBuster comes with a well-constructed Help section that includes FAQs, tutorials, how-to articles, and a Quick Reference Guide. Everything is very well put together and tells you everything you need to know about how to use the program. I especially liked the Quick Reference Guide. This is a single page that shows you the program’s main interface. Simply click on any part of the interface, and you’ll be provided with an explanation of the function of that button or object.
[ Insert screen Quick Reference]
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Suggested FeaturesThe only major omission from MorphBuster is its lack of an undo feature. You can undo dot placements, but that’s about all. Once you’ve made a change, you’re pretty much stuck with it (unless you start over). If you apply an art media effect, you can restore the original image only while the editing window remains open. Once that's closed, you're stuck with the effect. The only way out of this is to close the program, opt not to save, and start the project afresh.
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ConclusionAs you can see from my review, MorphBuster certainly didn’t give me any cause for complaint. In fact, there’s very little that’s negative about MorphBuster. I think the product is an outstanding morphing application for all walks of life: its friendly UI, easy-to-follow instructions, and many, many wonderful features make it graduate top of the class, in my book.
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