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Tracking a video with Mocha AE for After Effects

It may not be readily apparent, but for the last several versions After Effects has shipped with a 3rd party tracking tool called Mocha AE from Imagineer Systems. Look on your hard drive where you install AE, it’s there.

Mocha is a really nice tracking tool, but when you first open the app the interface can be a bit intimidating in that it looks nothing like what you’re used to if you’re used to After Effects.

Mocha is not a 3d camera tracker, but instead it’s strength is a method of 2.5d tracking known as planar tracking. It’s far superior than AE’s built in point tracking, it’s more accurate, can deal with motion blur and doesn’t always stumble when one of the tracking points ventures off screen or out of the camera’s view.

Here are some samples I worked up yesterday while studying how to use Mocha AE. In these examples I took some handheld HD footage of a picture frame and comped in a photo of my good friend Indiana Jones. Before shooting the source footage, I removed the actual photo from the frame and inserted a piece of black paper. This way, once I track the footage and add in the new photo, I can set the transfer mode of the photo to screen thus preserving the original reflections in the glass. This subtle effect goes a long way in increasing the realism of the comp.

At the start of each example you will see a few seconds of the original source footage, then a wipe to reveal the final comp.