Watch a child magically materialize in the background of this BBC News clip

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Oh boy, right-wing trolls will have a field day with this tool…




As if I didn’t have enough reasons to consider TV broadcasts a worthless way of getting one’s news. That BBC News has decided to use (and thus give its stamp of approval to) this technology is especially disturbing.


Curse you, Morph! Go back to your outpost!

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Like we’re supposed to believe that? Everybody knows England has fairies.


In the voice of Alan Partridge:

“To British audiences there will always only be one Morph”



Riiight, because you can change what happens in a video, but you definitely can’t change what someone said in like, a written news story by, typing and erasing stuff…


Is editing like Godard no longer cool?


There’s a McLuhan-grounded expectation with television news that what the viewer is seeing is unaltered except for obvious editing.* My first career was in TV news and I know that any of the staff I worked with would be horrified by this development in presenting what some in the business call “actualities” (which don’t usually involve kids materialising mid-clip).

[* ETA: the obvious editing in and of itself allows less scrupulous news outlets plenty of room for dirty tricks]


It’s not that disturbing.

If you have ever watched an interview and there is a cut away from the subject to other footage (b-roll) while the subject keep talking, it’s literally the same thing. What happened is that the interview subject started to sound like a complete idiot and the editor had to go edit the audio into complete sentences and coherent thoughts. They cover all that audio editing with a cut away to b-roll. This morph is just a refinement of the the really dirty cuts, like a three or four frame cross-fades that an editor will use when they really need to cheat. Those cross-fades would only work when the interview subject didn’t move their head much. The shitty part is that this new morph will be adopted as a wider tactic by news organizations to save money. If you don’t have to shoot b-roll, why waste the time and money. You will probably start seeing this a lot more on local news to start with. (this is part of a much longer rant for me about TV news getting cheap as fuck and screwing over workers)

Anyway, like all techniques, this can be abused. However, he ability to cut-fuck someone, change the meaning of what they said and cover it with b-roll has been around forever. The worst I’ve ever done was purposely leave in a poorly timed “um” or bad turn of phrase so a interview subject would look dumb. Honestly, sometimes with the footage you have, it really can’t be helped, but I have done it on purpose once or twice. Maybe just as bad, occasionally I would hold a cut a little longer then necessary if an interview subjects body language gave away that they were lying. Normally, I spend way to much time trying to make stupid people sound smarter then they actually are in interviews.


Waiting for someone here to add the Star Trek “beam” sound. I’ll check back later.


See, that part doesn’t sound like “journalism” to me. Call me naive if you wish, I’m going to have a hard time getting behind this. I don’t think print journalists should weave together a bunch of disjoint utterances into “quotes,” either.


Like it or not, that’s how the sausage is made.

Really innocent example, doing a story about a charity doing Christmas gift wrapping to raise money to buy Christmas presents for kids in the hospital on Christmas. You have interview footage with the Director of the charity and a volunteer gift wrapper. Both interview subjects talk about the mission of the charity and how they use the money raised. Well you almost have to use the charity director talking about that instead of the volunteer. So you look at the volunteer footage. The gift wrapper talks about recycled paper, how much fun it is, how the tape keeps sticking to their hands, a story about a person getting their gifts wrapped and so on and so on. Most of that is unusable and there is only so much time for the story. In that five minutes of footage of the volunteer you don’t really have one good soundbite. So you make one. You start on a shot of them saying how much fun it is, cut to b-roll, pull the part where the interviewer got them to say what hours the gift wrapping was happening, then cut to an entirely different part of the gift wrapper saying how many types of paper they have, and then another part of how long it will take to wrap a persons gift. You take out all the “umms”, “ahs”, and “like, you know’s” and structure all of that info into something that sounds like it was all said at once, coherently, even though it wasn’t. Then after you build that, you cut back to to footage of the gift wrapper saying something heart warming about the charity. You do it right, and the gift wrapper see’s it and thinks they sound great on TV. Are you manipulating what people are saying, sure, but mostly it’s separating the wheat from the chaff. People don’t always express their thoughts in a linear order and you don’t have time on TV to let them ramble. The audience doesn’t want to see them ramble either. So you fix it. That’s just how it works.


The part that is disturbing is that most people are ignorant of video techniques. Education needs to start early so people, generally, have a clue as to what they’re seeing.



I bring that up and get shot down all the time. I’m almost 50 and I grew up watching TV just like everyone else. Watching a shit ton of TV growing up doesn’t make you “literate” about TV or video techniques. But you start suggesting that we need to teach kids how some of this stuff works and people accuse you of being ridiculous. Then in the next breath they want to complain about TV news not being objective enough while not understanding that the entire process of making TV (or any news) is subjective. Apologies to
AllegedSausageRoll, I’m not dunking on them. I’m thinking about a ton of bar and party conversations I’ve had when I tell people what I do.


It sounds impressive, but the actual clip looks fake as hell.

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