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Now that I have successfully performed a track of that second wildebeest in line, next I need to apply this track to other layers, question is, what layer should I apply it to? Well, I have two separate layers that make up this little thought bubble I want following the wildebeest. I am going to bring my Comp panel back for temporarily. I have got this little pointer underneath, and this text, which one should follow the wildebeest. Well, quite often when performing the tracking operations, I find the best thing to do is not commit to what layer it should be attached, but instead attach a new Null Object.
This gives me a good intermediary to go ahead and apply the track to, then later on I can arrange layers in relation to this Null without worrying about going back into the tracker. I am going to create the Null Object. I am going to go ahead and open its Layer > Solid Settings to rename the Null, head track null, you can call it whatever you want to. Okay? At this point I don't need to worry about moving the null over to the wildebeest. That will happen automatically when I apply the track.
Now I can reselect my Wildebeests Layer, go back into my Layer panel, make sure I'm looking at the Motion Tracker Points; if I wasn't, my Tracker will disappear, so to the back of that pop-up, and now I can go ahead and apply this track. The Motion Target is defaulting to the Pointer Layer, but instead I want it to be the null. So I click the Edit Target button to change which layer will receive my track, select head track null, this is the list of all layers inside this composition, click OK, and then click Apply.
As before, I get Apply Dimensions of X and Y, and this is a perfect case where I need to make a decision. Do I want the bubble to very closely follow this beast or do I want it just to follow the left and right motion and not include this minor up and down Y motion? In this case, I am going to choose to go ahead and use both axis to give me more of a handheld look as it bobs along. But this is a creative decision you can make at this point to go ahead and say X Only. I'll click OK. After Effects throws me back into the Composition panel, and I can see my null outline is now over the wildebeest's head.
If I can't see that null outline very clearly, I just need to change its Label Color to something with more contrast, perhaps something like a bright Pink will really stand out. I'll drag my Time Indicator, my null object now moves along with the wildebeest. And if I press U to reveal its keyframes, you will see it has received Position keyframes that correspond to my Tracked Feature. Now that I've done that, this is some fairly simple parenting work. I am going to select my pointer, Shift+ Click on my Text Layer, I have no idea, so I can move them as a unit, Position them where I want them to be in relationship to the wildebeest head; in this case line up the bottom of that pointer to the Anchor Point on my Null Object, reveal the parenting column.
The shortcut is to press Shift+F4, but I can also right-click on any Column header name and choose Parent, and with these two layers selected, I can use the pick whip or the pop-up to choose my head track null. Once I have done that, these two layers have been attached to the null's animation. And there we move across the screen. The reason I use this Null Object is I can go ahead and move the position of these layers at any point in time and not worry about screwing up the Position keyframes created by the Motion Tracker.
The Null Object got the Tracker's keyframes, now my actual tracked layers are going along for the ride with the null. Press 0 to RAM Preview, and there is my track thought bubble, complete with the wildebeest, turning his head at us, then turning his head back away again. Tracking isn't that hard once you know how to do it and once you know the essential options. Setting up the Feature and Search Regions are important, but also the Options dialog in the Tracker panel are equally important to getting a good track.
Now that I am done with this composition, I can go ahead and close all to clean up my display.
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