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Camera Tracking

Lesson 22 from: Adobe After Effects CC Quick Start

Chad Perkins

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Lesson Info

22. Camera Tracking

Lesson Info

Camera Tracking

Oh, this is fun. This is fun, you ready for this? I'm gonna open up camera tracking because we're gonna talk about camera tracking. Again, this is the intersection of visual effects and motion graphics, cause we have live action footage and we're gonna put stuff in the live action footage. That's visual effects. But, we're gonna put text in it, so it's gonna be like motion graphics. And this is becoming very very common. So, just infinite number of tools you can use in After Effects to do all kinds of crazy stuff no matter what field you're in. So, I have this footage that I shot and I think what I'm gonna do, I'm kind of hesitating because I think what the best thing to do- I'm just gonna get this started. This takes a long time, so I'm just going to get this started and then talk about it while we're going- So I'm gonna look for the 3D camera tracker effect and also you can just right click on it, I believe they still have this as an option, and choose "Track Camera". Yeah, so you do...

n't have to remember the name of the effect, you can right click on a piece of video and choose "Track Camera". So that's what we're gonna do. And you can see right here, it's taking a while to initialize and we can still do stuff in After Effects, but right now this layer is kind of being taken up by this 3D camera tracker. And what's happening is, is that After Effects is actually going through- this is a moving camera shot, which we'll see in just a second, I had a camera and I tilted it and panned- I don't know what I did, but just moved it around. And so, After Effects can actually go in to the footage, and keep in mind these are just pixels, just random pixels, but After Effects can go in and see all these pixels moving and ascertain, oh okay, the camera was out actually here. These objects were here, these objects were here, and this is what the camera was doing. So it can kind of recreate the camera that was there in the scene. And if it can recreate the camera that was there in the scene, then we can put text on the window, as we will in a second. We can do some really cool stuff, because After Effects understands what the camera was doing. That's a little bit of a- messes with your brain a little bit, it's a little bit tough to wrap your head around, but what's happening is is that After Effects is actually looking inside of the data and figuring out what's going on in this shot, so you can put other things in that shot. It could be a visual effect, it could be whatever. In this case we're just gonna do something very very simple and just put some text on the window. But, in other instances this could be really potent. And, this blessed fast computer just finished, which is great. So once it's done tracking all the data ... Man, this is like a cooking show, this is like so- it's perfectly timed. It's amazing. So what I'm gonna do is if I start moving this you can see that these little things called track points that show up. These little x's, you seein that? These little things? And what this is, this is showing me what After Effects recognized as movement. And so, as I scrub this, you see these points are just rock solid, just stuck to that. That means After Effects recognizes the motion, which is great for us. It can tell what's going on. All those little points are things that it found and tracked to, which is, again, which is great. Now, some of this stuff ... Actually wanna put some text like right there. Right there on the window. So I'm gonna zoom in, and this green one seems like a winner because as it moves, it seems like that green one just stays there. This green one right here, it just stays there. So what I can do ... Well first thing I wanna do is ... Create a camera. So basically, right now the data is all stored in the effect, and in order to get it out in my After Effects scene, I need to create a comp camera that moves in the same way as the camera did when I was filming this window. And one way I can do that is right click- I can click this button here, but I can also right click on this and choose "Create Text and Camera". And the difference is that when you create a camera, the camera just exists and you have to figure out where I'm gonna put stuff, but if I know that this exact spot is where I want that text to go, I can right click on that point and choose, "Create Text and Camera". So I chose "Create Text and Camera" and the text is ridiculously huge. Tone it down a little bit ... Select the text, tone it down a little bit. And I'm gonna double click this text field which you can do to change text. I don't know what's happening in this piece but it feels like he could be saying "Peace be with you". I don't really know what's happening, but this works. Now, one thing to be aware of ... So my text comes in and it's tracked but it's not oriented right, right? I gotta rotate it a little bit. One thing you do not ever want to do is move this in z space because then it's not gonna line up. So don't ever move this in z space if you want it to be tracked. So now I can go in here, I could use the rotate tool, I think a lot of people do that, so here's how to do that. So I could click on the z, rotate it, rotate it along that axis, and I think I want to scale this down even smaller. And then I could go back to the selection tool, just kinda moving this into place, just trying to get it set in the spot that I like it, and there we go. And now, when I hit the home key ... Let me maximize this panel so we can see it. Preview this. "Peace be with you" is tracked. And that's the power of camera tracking. Because After Effects understands the camera, then I can put stuff in this image and make it feel like it's part of what's happening. Probably wouldn't use the same font, but ... And I might like, dial back the opacity and not make it super bright white, I mean there's a lot of things we could do to make this composite a little bit better and feel like it's more believably part of this scene, but that is the ins and outs of camera tracking. It's a really powerful thing. You see this a lot in videos, explainer videos, people are like walking through a hall and you can see text just kind of showing, and just like moving with everything. If you ever saw that movie Stranger than Fiction, they do this kind of thing a lot when they track the camera he's brushing his teeth, Will Ferrell's brushing his teeth. It's a really great movie if you haven't seen the movie, but the motion graphics are also really incredible. So, yeah. Tracks stuff to the camera, and there you go. Now be aware that with cameras with the footage that you have, you kinda have to, you don't have to, I certainly didn't with this, but it's a good idea to be aware of if that's what you might use this for because there are some shots that are untrackable. So like, if my head was taking up most of this frame and you couldn't see really what's going on, After Effects isn't gonna be able to figure out what the camera is doing. Or if I was kind of hand holding the camera and there was a bunch of ballet dancers just going through, it might see all of that motion and be confused by it and think that that's the camera motion. So sometimes that can throw off the track. So you want- or, if it was gonna shoot at this wall- this wall has a little bit of texture so bad example, but just pretend there's no texture on this wall and you shot this wall and you're doing handheld stuff, it's not gonna be able to figure out- like it needs data to track, it needs information. So you to make sure things are fairly well lit, there's enough texture, that stuff isn't obscured so it can tell really what's going on with the camera.

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Ratings and Reviews

Grace Duong

I really enjoyed this course! As a self-taught After Effects user, this was great if you want to cover the basics and understand the program even more. I also enjoyed Chad's obvious enthusiasm for After Effects and his energy. Definitely felt like I took away some useful tips for my workflow!

a Creativelive Student

If you want to get into learning AE. Watch this video first. I've watched many AE tutorials and I still had many 'why' questions. Chad is great and explaining things and even uses great analogies​ so you understand what is going on. I highly recommend it. Thank you.

Pauly Wright

I bought this over a year ago when it was over $50 and it was still worth every penny then. I'm a videographer that knows Adobe Premier Pro and I wanted to understand After Effects more to make information, figures, stats in videos more engaging. Chad is really enthusiastic, passionate about what he does and he doesn't waffle. After watching this i'm now confident to put this in practise. Highly recommended.

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