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After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Welcome

Learn two key visual effects skills: motion tracking and keying.
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  1. 9m 2s
    1. Welcome
      2m 38s
    2. The Tracker panel
      4m 24s
    3. Using the exercise files
      2m 0s
  2. 13m 25s
    1. Warp Stabilizer basics
      5m 59s
    2. Warp Stabilizer advanced parameters
      7m 26s
  3. 30m 6s
    1. Setting up a stabilization
      2m 57s
    2. Track points explained
      5m 48s
    3. Performing a track
      5m 11s
    4. Applying a stabilization
      2m 42s
    5. Cleaning up the results of a stabilization
      3m 0s
    6. Performing a motion track
      5m 57s
    7. Applying the results
      4m 31s
  4. 13m 48s
    1. The Radio Waves effect
      4m 16s
    2. Tracking the mountain
      5m 31s
    3. Compositing the effect
      4m 1s
  5. 24m 28s
    1. Perspective tracking overview
      2m 40s
    2. Tracking to a corner pin
      7m 1s
    3. Improving the composite
      5m 39s
    4. Tracking with mocha-AE
      9m 8s
  6. 31m 49s
    1. Tracking in 3D (new in CS6)
      4m 31s
    2. Creating 3D objects (new in CS6)
      5m 12s
    3. Hanging a poster (new in CS6)
      8m 8s
    4. Adding text (new in CS6)
      5m 33s
    5. Using shadow catchers (new in CS6)
      8m 25s
  7. 16m 46s
    1. Tracking dots
      5m 43s
    2. Dealing with obscuration
      5m 12s
    3. Cleaning up the stabilization
      5m 51s
  8. 12m 40s
    1. Basic keying
      7m 20s
    2. Refining the key
      5m 20s
  9. 13m 32s
    1. Quizzler challenges
      3m 35s
    2. Quizzler #1 solution: Stabilization plus masking
      2m 58s
    3. Quizzler #2 solution: Stabilization plus tracking
      2m 50s
    4. Quizzler #3 solution: Copying a camera's motion
      4m 9s
  10. 12m 28s
    1. Tracking for multiple effect points
      4m 44s
    2. Converting to ray-traced 3D (new in CS6)
      7m 44s
  11. 23m 59s
    1. Legacy tracker advice
      8m 14s
    2. Tracking interlaced sources
      5m 59s
    3. Using garbage masks for keying
      4m 51s
    4. Using the Rolling Shutter Repair feature (new in CS6)
      4m 55s

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After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying
Video duration: 0s 3h 22m Intermediate Updated Dec 12, 2012


Explore how to use the motion tracker and stabilizer built into After Effects and shows how to handle a variety of shots. Author Chris Meyer leads a quick tour of the third-party software mocha and demonstrates the workflow for The Foundry's KEYLIGHT, both bundled with After Effects. The course also covers tracking a greenscreen shot with a handheld camera and replacing its background.

The After Effects Apprentice videos on were created by Trish and Chris Meyer and are designed to be used on their own and as a companion to their book After Effects Apprentice. We are honored to host these tutorials in the Online Training Library®.

Topics include:
  • Understanding motion stabilization and keying
  • Performing a track
  • Applying tracking to effects
  • Keying with KEYLIGHT
  • Replacing images
  • Improving the composite
  • Garbage masking
  • Dealing with interlaced footage
After Effects


Hi! I'm Chris Meyer of Crish Design and welcome to the After Effects Apprentice Lesson on Tracking and Keying. Tracking and Keying are two essential cornerstone skills for creating visual effects. Tracking is the ability to follow objects in already shot footage so that you can add new objects into that scene and the final composite looks realistic. Keying is the ability to take footage shot against a colored background, typically green or blue, remove that color background and now take your remaining foreground object and put it in front of a brand-new scene.

First we'll cover the Warp Stabilizer, which was introduced in After Effects at CS5.5. This is a highly automated way of smoothing out what might otherwise be a rough camera move. We'll then cover the so-called Classic or Legacy point-based tracker and stabilizer that has been in After Effects for ages and it's an essential tool to track and stabilize existing footage. We'll show you how to use Mocha AE, an advanced planar tracker that makes it easier to do screen replacement, change out billboards and already shot footage, etcetera. And then we'll play around with the brand-new 3D Camera Tracker added in After Effects CS6.

Instead of tracking objects in a scene, this recreates the camera's original position on a shot so that you have a new 3D world that matches the original world. Once you have mastered these tools and skills, you can stabilize movement in a shot; attach another layered tool feature in a shot; have an effect point to follow that feature, so for example radio waves emanate from it; replace an object with a brand-new layer, we'll be doing some screen replacement later in this lesson; and create fantastical new worlds where objects hang in 3D space. For Keying, we'll be taking action shot with a handheld camera against a green or blue screen; make that background transparent; make sure that you actually want to keep is nice and opaque with some nice smooth edges; and then place result over new background.

We'll combine that with stabilization to either remove the camera or add the camera's original movement to a new background. This lesson also includes Sidebars with advice on Tracking and Keying, plus how to use a brand-new Rolling Shutter Repair effect to remove artifacts introduced by many current generation cameras. Now, Tracking and Keying are very deep subjects that require a lot of practice to master. Our goal here is to get you introduced to them, get you familiar with them, feeling more comfortable with them, so as you can go ahead and tackle jobs, practice, and get really good at these, so you too, can create Visual Effects in After Effects.

Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying .

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Q: This course was updated on 12/12/2012. What changed?
A: We added new chapters on the Warp Stabilizer and the exciting new 3D Camera Tracker, and new movies on the Tracker panel, converting to ray-traced 3D, and rolling shutter repair, all new features introduced in After Effects CS6. In addition, there are new sets of exercise files designed for After Effects CS5.5 and After Effects CS6 and a companion movie that shows our premium subscribers how to use the exercise files.





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