Motion tracking used to belong within the domain of high-end post production and compositing solutions. And even though earlier versions of Adobe After Effects (AE), a popular compositing application, contained its own motion tracking engine, results were less-than-stellar results and oftentimes required much operator assistance. These disabilities turned users away from realizing the huge potential that motion tracking affords a compositor.
AE CS4 included a copy of Mocha for AE, an industrial-strength application from Imagineer Systems. Mocha has been around for a few years as a standalone application but the bundling of Mocha for AE with CS4 has ensured that motion tracking, as a truly viable post-production solution, is now part of every CS4 users arsenal. Whether you're a broadcast designer, a visual effects artist or an AE all-rounder, you will do yourself a huge favor by incorporating motion tracking techniques into your skillset. And in Pete O'Connell, you have a Hollywood-calibre trainer at your finger tips, ready on divulge industrial-strength techniques that will certainly help you to attain the required skills that ensure you know what it is you're doing and why you're doing it so that you will be able to solve problems in the real-world.
Pete O'Connell's latest training DVD, Motion Tracking and Stabilization in Adobe After Effects, covers various topics within the field and is a must-have for beginners and intermediate users of AE's or Mocha's tracking toolset. Although Mocha isn't mentioned in the title, Mocha for AE is used for most of the tracking projects that Pete works with on the DVD.
The training entails working with supplied footage and watching Pete go through the steps required in AE and Mocha for AE to complete the tracking solution. If like me, you're not using CS4, but own Mocha's standalone application, then you will also benefit from the video tutorials. Mocha for AE is identical to the standlone version of Mocha except for the export of shapes which is readily available within Mocha but only available as an add-on with Mocha for AE.
Although Pete supplies includes AE CS4 project files, you really don't need to work with them as it is best that you watch the videos and then proceed onto AE or Mocha on your own, with any version of AE that you own. Should you track with Mocha and want to export out its tracking data to AE, then you'll need at least AE 6.
The DVD starts of with the basics of 1-point tracking and then works its way towards 2-point, followed by 4-point tracking. With 1 and 2 point tracking, Pete uses both AE and Mocha for AE but with 4-point tracking, Mocha for AE is the only tool he uses for 4-point tracking. This is ideal as Mocha's tracking engine excels for such tracking situations.
Pete covers the nuts and bolts of motion tracking such as object removal, object insertion, inverse transformations after stabilizing, managing tracking data for use in other applications other than AE and using 2-point data to manage mask shapes in AE. Pete also covers poweful techniques that allow you to retain the natural highlights on tracked surfaces after inserting new footage, insert artificial shadows using Red Giant Warp, use Expressions to manage the tracking data, work with Mocha for AE's Adjust Track Tool, create induced parallax and correctly work with interlaced source and insert footage.
Pete has also provided a few tracking-related Animation Presets. Although these are CS4-specific, the training videos cover their creation in a step-by-step routine so youshouldn't have any issues following them.
One note of caution is that Pete uses Expressions a fair bit in this traning DVD and he doesn't cover the basics. Although the Expressions are quite basic and easy to follow, those with EAS (Expression Averse Syndrome) may baulk at using them and hence delimit the full potential of Pete's training. I suggest that those afflicted with EAS take a look at JJ Gifford's excellent introduction to Expressions here. You should do well if you start from the top and work your way until you reach Vectors and Dimensions. Then take a look at the Vector Math section. Once, you've covered these, you shouldn't have any issues with most of Pete's Expressions. The exception would be the training video on trigonometry but Pete covers this quite well and JJ Gifford also has a section on the topic.
Although I've completed a few tracking jobs in the past, there is never sufficient practice and Pete provides a range of tips, techniques and workflows that will help beginners and intermediate users of AE and Mocha's tracking tools reach a higher level of proficiency and confidence.