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VFX Techniques introduces common yet critical visual effects techniques that are used in film and television shows on a regular basis. This installment shows how to build complex composites with Adobe After Effects and mocha, where motion graphics are mapped to live-action footage of an actor. Author Lee Lanier starts by combining rotoscoping and effects to digitally apply makeup to an actor to disguise motion tracking marks. Then discover how to transfer footage into mocha and generate planar tracking data that you can use to motion track graphics to the moving face of the actor. Plus, learn how to build and adjust motion graphics to create the look of a virtual tattoo and a pair of holographic heads-up glasses.
We spent some time making sure that our X-Spline follows the shape, the four dots, as best we can, and also adjusted the planar surface. We're now ready to export the tracking data and get that into After Effects. There's an Export Tracking Data button right here in the Track Tab. I want to make sure I have the correct surface visible, in this case, I'm working on the cheek layer, so we're good to go there. Export Tracking Data, I'll click that. This window comes up, and there are several ways to export the data. What Mocha does is it exports text data that explains where those four corners are over time, and also information for transforms like Scale.
We just want the After Effects Corner Pin, which is a .text file. Now you do have the option to save it to text file and we'll do that later on, but we take a shortcut by copying to clipboard. That will copy all the data of that layer to the clipboard. So I'm going to copy the clipboard, click, closes that window. Now I can switch over to After Effects. This is where we left off in After Effects. I'm going to go back to the Spy composition. I want to bring in the work that I want to place on the cheek, File > Import > File.
This will be in the Artwork folder, and we have a file called Tattoo. It's a PNG file, so it has transparency in it. Open that. I'm going to drop this right on top of the composition. Now we do have to do a little bit of prep work in order to have this track correctly. What we really want is this artwork to be in the top left corner. I'd like to move this corner up to the top left here, at zero, zero in space for After Effects. That works well when pulling our data from Mocha.
What I can do here is change the anchor point's X to 640, and that pins it over in this top left corner. Now we can paste the data, because I copied it to the clipboard of the system, I can highlight the tattoo layer and paste. I can go up to Edit > Paste right here, and paste. Now I do have to make sure I'm on the correct frame. Actually, I pasted on the last frame, that's not going to help. I'm going to Undo.
Move back to frame zero, make sure Tattoo is highlighted, and then paste again. And then we'll zoom in and see if we can find it, and there it is. Now we can see how close it is to the original tracking marks by turning off the other layers. And it's pretty darn close. You can see that the corners, from the Corner Pin effect, are basically where the surface corners were in Mocha. Let's take a look and see what we got in terms of the layer.
We have a brand new Corner Pin effect, with the four corners and the keyframes for each of the four corners. We also have the position, scale, and rotation that have been keyed for us automatically. We now have the start of our motion track tattoo in After Effects. I'll play back just a tiny part of it, and there we go. Now there is an issue with the finger. Remember the data was not quite good with finger crosses, so we're going to edit that by hand inside After Effects.
We've exported the data from mocha by copying to the clipboard, then in After Effects we simply pasted that data onto the layer.
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