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After Effects CS6 New Features
Illustration by John Hersey

Performing an initial 3D track


From:

After Effects CS6 New Features

with Chris Meyer

Video: Performing an initial 3D track

Let's walk through an example of how you use the 3D Camera Tracker. For this example, I am going to use a new piece of footage that's not included with the Creating Motion Graphics book. If you have access to the project files that came with this lesson, import from the AE CS6 sources folder, the file Artbeats_CAN119. It's Canadian aerials footage. I'll click Open and drag it down to the New Comp icon so I have a composition that exactly matches its length. In this particular shot, we have a lot of interesting buildings with the helicopter flying around them.

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After Effects CS6 New Features
2h 13m Appropriate for all Apr 11, 2012

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Get up to speed quickly with the new features in After Effects CS6. Join veteran After Effects user Chris Meyer as he explores the key enhancements to this industry standard visual effects and motion graphics software. Chris shares creative ideas and important production advice while covering the strengths of features such as memory optimization with the new global performance cache, 3D motion tracking with the 3D Camera Tracker, and the new 3D rendering engine for ray-traced 3D rendering.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the global performance cache
  • Using ray-traced rendering with beveling and extrusion
  • Working with 3D Camera Tracker
  • Performing rolling shutter repairs
  • Adding variable mask feathering
  • Working with CycoreFX HD plug-in
  • Touring Imagineer Systems mocha AE and Adobe SpeedGrade
  • Round-tripping between After Effects and MAXON CINEMA 4D
Subject:
Video
Software:
After Effects
Author:
Chris Meyer

Performing an initial 3D track

Let's walk through an example of how you use the 3D Camera Tracker. For this example, I am going to use a new piece of footage that's not included with the Creating Motion Graphics book. If you have access to the project files that came with this lesson, import from the AE CS6 sources folder, the file Artbeats_CAN119. It's Canadian aerials footage. I'll click Open and drag it down to the New Comp icon so I have a composition that exactly matches its length. In this particular shot, we have a lot of interesting buildings with the helicopter flying around them.

We have the buildings in the foreground, buildings in the background, et cetera. Let's say we wanted to post some sign or billboard or projection on these buildings. To do that, I'm going to import a still image. You can import anything you like. If you have access to the project files that came with Creating Motion Graphics, 5th Edition, go to its Sources folder, Stills, and pick something like, I like the DV_Beauty_eye image myself.

That's going to be a nice thing to put on the side of a building. Say it's for a cosmetics company or something. Okay, to place something on one of these buildings, we need to reconstruct where the camera was while flying around these buildings. To do that, we apply the 3D Camera Tracker. There are a few different ways you can apply it. You can just right-click on a layer and you'll see a new option called Track Camera. Not Track Motion, which means follow one object in this scene, but actually figure out what the camera was doing.

You can also use the Animation menu where you will find Track Camera. The camera is actually an effect, so you can search for "Camera Tracker" and apply it from the Effects menu, or you can open up Window > Tracker and you'll see that the Tracker window has been reworked-- I'll drag an extra comp panel here-- to include separate buttons for Track Camera, Track Motion, the Warp Stabilizer-- introduced in 5.5--and Stabilize Motion.

Previously, it was tricky to choose whether you got the Warp Stabilizer or the Classic Stabilizer. This makes it a lot easier in CS6. Anyway, unlike the traditional tracker and stabilizer which require you to be inside the Layer panel, you can apply both the Warp Stabilizer and 3D Camera Tracker directly from the Composition panel. I have my footage selected and I click Track Camera. You will notice a banner that it's analyzing it, and here in the Effects Controls panel, you will see information as it starts to step through the frames of this shot.

This is not a very fast process, because it does need to identify good track points in this footage, then follow them frame to frame throughout this entire shot. That is quite a bit of calculation, and that's why they allow you to go ahead and switch to other compositions, continue doing work in other projects if you want to, all while this happens in the background. The Info panel will update you on when the track is done. Let's go ahead and pull that forward, bring the Effects Control panel forward and you see it's already finished. Now it's just recreating the camera from the data it has.

This particular shot has a lot of things to track. And it's not necessarily a sure shot; that's why it took a while to solve the camera. And now After Effects has finished tracking the shot and solving for where it thought the camera was. But did it perform a good track? Well, that's what we are going to work on in the next movie.

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