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Screen Replacement with After Effects and mocha AE

with Chris Meyer

Video: Welcome

Learn how to replace what's shown onscreen by inserting different images or video, using the tools in After Effects and mocha AE.
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Screen Replacement with After Effects and mocha AE
Video duration: 0s 1h 40m Intermediate


One of the most common visual effects tasks is to replace an image or video in a shot with another—be it a computer screen, a picture on a wall, a bumper sticker on a car, etc. This project-oriented course walks you through the major steps of replacing screens in After Effects, including tracking a screen in mocha AE, matching the new display to the depth-of-field blur and lighting of the original shot, and then cutting out a hand obscuring the screen using the Roto Brush and Refine Edge. A bonus movie at the end of the course discusses alternative approaches, including a demonstration of using reversible stabilization in Warp Stabilizer VFX for the tracking portion of the shot.

This course was created and produced by Chris and Trish Meyer. We're honored to host this content in our library.

Topics include:
  • Tracking in mocha AE
  • Corner pinning in After Effects
  • Rotoscoping with Roto Brush and Refine Edge
  • Matching color and depth of field
  • Reversible stabilization with Warp Stabilizer VFX
After Effects mocha


Hi, I'm Chris Meyer of Crish Design, and in this course, I want to teach you the steps required to perform one of the most common visual effects tasks you may encounter, whether you're doing corporate videos or feature films, and that's screen replacement. Replacing what is on a computer screen or other rectangular object, be it on someone's desk, on the wall, etc.

Even though the camera may be handheld, and therefore that area may not be stable, and even though actors may be moving in front of that area. In this particular case, we have a shot of an actor using a laptop computer, shot with a handheld camera from behind, so their hands are partially obscuring the screen. Let's go take a look at this shot and see just what's involved with this particular task. As I mentioned our mission is to replace the screen on this laptop computer. There are two things that are going to present challenges while doing this.

Let me cue up a running preview so you can see. One is that the camera is handheld and is drifting in position. So we can't get away with just a simple corner pin and four positions. We need to track how this computer screen is moving. Two is that this person's hands are in front of the computer screen. So we need to cut out or rotoscope out those hands so they appear in front of our brand new computer screen. We'll tackle each of those tasks in order. Now even though in this course we will be working on a very specific shot, the goal is not to show you how to solve one problem, but to give you an idea of what's going to be required to solve almost any problem that comes your way.

Therefore, I'm going to be discussing general workflow, things that I'm looking for, and general guiding principles, more than specific magic values that you should be entering into a given effect. Treat this as knowledge to apply to jobs, rather than a magic spell to use in this one particular case. So with that, let's tackle the first half of the job, which is tracking that computer screen.

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