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After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying
Illustration by John Hersey

Tracking the mountain


From:

After Effects Apprentice 12: Tracking and Keying

with Chris Meyer and Trish Meyer

Video: Tracking the mountain

The next step is tracking one of those mountain peaks. Now, remember, to use the Tracker, you need to be in the Layer panel for the footage you are tracking. So go back down here to the Timeline, double-click my footage, and open it up inside the Layer panel. Now, initially I'm just seeing my Radio Waves along with my dummy Producer Path I created, but remember, you have a View pop-up in the Layer panel to determine where in the rendering order you are seeing the results. Right now it's showing it to me after Radio Waves. However, if I click Track Motion, you'll notice that the view has changed to Motion Tracker Points, which happens before the Radio Waves effect is applied.
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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
3h 22m Intermediate Nov 23, 2011 Updated Dec 12, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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 lynda.com 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 lynda.com 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
Subjects:
Video Motion Graphics Visual Effects
Software:
After Effects
Authors:
Chris Meyer Trish Meyer

Tracking the mountain

The next step is tracking one of those mountain peaks. Now, remember, to use the Tracker, you need to be in the Layer panel for the footage you are tracking. So go back down here to the Timeline, double-click my footage, and open it up inside the Layer panel. Now, initially I'm just seeing my Radio Waves along with my dummy Producer Path I created, but remember, you have a View pop-up in the Layer panel to determine where in the rendering order you are seeing the results. Right now it's showing it to me after Radio Waves. However, if I click Track Motion, you'll notice that the view has changed to Motion Tracker Points, which happens before the Radio Waves effect is applied.

This way I get to track my footage without being distracted by the waves. Just as before, I am going to drag the Current Time Indicator through the shot and I am going to look for a peak that is in the shot for its entire duration. I am also going to be paying attention to anything that has a good contrast and a good sharp edge or something with well-defined features for me to track. Now, I might like to use something at this peak, but keep an eye on it as I drag the Time Indicator. It starts off nicely there against the green trees, but as I move further along, you will see it starts to move across this other various similar mountain peak with a very little contrast.

That will cause you trouble later on to track. You might want to pick something like this bit of snow here. That's going to contrast that mountain or just this particular peak here. I can start at the end and track backwards, or I could start at the start and track forwards. Either way will work. I think I am going to start here at the start of the clip, as I have really good contrast to start off from my track. I'll put the cursor over my Track Point till I see the four-headed arrow. Move my set of Track Points to go ahead and locate that peak.

That's a nice bit of contrast between the green trees and the red mountaintop. I might tighten up my Track Point a little bit to focus on just this contrasty area, like about that, nice dark area in the corner there, nice bit of color. Now, which way is this mountain moving? It's moving to the left. So now I need to edit my Search Region to take into account my motion is going off in this direction. I can hover the cursor over one of its edges until I see that square box at its bottom and move the entire Search Region by itself in that particular direction, or hold down Command on Mac, Ctrl on Windows and edit these individual points to indicate which way this shot is moving.

That's a pretty good direction there. Again, I don't want this to be too big, because I might accidentally pick up another peak I don't want to track. I'll crowd that down there and push this down here. Finally, setting the Attach Point. The Attach Point is going to be the center from which my Radio Waves are going to emanate. So I am going to Zoom in temporarily and move that Attach Point. Look for that four triangle cursor at the bottom of the arrow, indicates you are moving just the Attach Point, and put it right here at the peak of my mountain and Zoom back down.

I can press the Spacebar to get the Hand Tool and reposition it. Another good shortcut is Shift+/ will also recenter your footage in the current panel. Okay. I have set up my Track Point, what's next? Options, and in this case, I don't have really good Luminance contrast, but I do have some color changes between the red of the rock, the green of the trees, and the dark shadow. So I am going to pick RGB to track. I'll leave Process off. There is no Fields to Track. Always leave Subpixel on.

The Feature does get smaller over time, but doesn't change so much like the wildebeest horns I need to worry about Adapting On Every Frame, so I'll leave that off, But I will set this pop-up to Adapt Feature in the event my Confidence does drop Below 80%. So if it does change a lot as that mountain behind moves across, I do have the option to go ahead and change what feature it is we are tracking. I'll click OK and again Analyze forward. As I do so, I see that it is indeed following this peak, and I will keep an eye on it? Yup, it followed it for the entire shot.

And there is the track for this entire duration. Good! Now I have a point to attach my Radio Waves to. Just like we did with the thought bubble over the wildebeest's head, I am going to check on my Motion Target, and notice that After Effects automatically detected that I had an effect applied to the footage and that it does indeed have a Position type value, the Producer Point that I might want to apply my track to. After Effects does make some intelligent decisions that way, but if it's not guessed correctly, you can then go to Edit Target, choose either a Layer, if you had multiple layers in this Comp, or in this case an Effect point control and choose which effect and what parameter you want to apply it to.

In this case, I do indeed want that Producer Point. I'll click OK, click Apply. I do indeed want both axis, so I am moving in X and Y, and click OK. I have gone back to my Composition panel, I'll RAM Preview, and now you see I have my waves moving slowly across the Comp. But there is a problem here, I can't see the underlying footage, I need to composite those two together, but we'll tackle that in the next movie.

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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