Full Guide to Tracking in Adobe After Effects | Final Form | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Full Guide to Tracking in Adobe After Effects

teacher avatar Final Form, Learn Design Tips and Tricks

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Point Tracking


    • 3.

      Planar Tracking


    • 4.

      3D Tracking


    • 5.

      Outro & Assignment


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

In this course, you'll learn all types of tracking in adobe after effects. We'll start from the very beginning and teach you the basics of using point trackers to track objects, planar tracking for surfaces, and 3D camera tracker for full scenes. While we go through each category, you will learn some tips on how to improve your tracking results so that your results are nice and clean. After you are done learning, I will provide you with example footage that was used in this course, so you can practice and match my results. Can't wait to see what creative things you’ll do!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Final Form

Learn Design Tips and Tricks


Welcome to Final Form. Founded by Mass and Nick, we are a social media and content creation agency based in NYC. Here you can learn many tricks and techniques to use in your design workflow. Become a student and start your design journey today!

See full profile

Level: All Levels

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hey guys, welcome to this course on Skillshare, where you're going to be learning everything about tracking in After Effects. So in this course, you'll learn all types of tracking. We'll just start from the very beginning and teach you all the basics of using point trackers to track normal objects, to planar tracking for surfaces, as well as a 3D camera tracker for full 3D camera motion. While we go through each category, you'll learn some tips and tricks on how to improve your tracking so that your results are really nice and clean. After you're done learning, you'll be provided with different examples of footage so you can follow along with the videos and kind of practice. What you've learned. Can't wait to see the creative things you'll do. So let's go ahead and get started with point tracking. 2. Point Tracking: So in this section of the course, I'm going to cover the point tracker tool in After Effects. Point tracking is exactly what it sounds like. It tracks points. One thing to note is what you want to use it for today. I'm going to show you two different ways that you can use it. In great way to start is with a single-point tracker, only to track the position of something. It's mostly used to attach text or graphics to a video without distorting its properties. Great way to kind of showcase it is maybe an AT tag for someone's Instagram or maybe some kind of specs. If you're talking about like a phone or like real estate videos. To get started, import your footage. I already have all the clips prepared for this course via four different things. So you have this one that we're going to use for point tracking. And the idea is that we're going to track this button on the shirt here. And we're going to kind of have a line connect out. And it's probably just going to say like Jennifer or something as if you're tagging this person on the video. In the second part of the point tracking, we are going to be tracking two points here. And adding may be some kind of station, like Street Station. For the planar tracking. We are going to be tracking this wall and adding a fig poster on top of it. And for this 3D tracking one, you can see that there's lots of camera motion happening here. And we're going to place some just some random objects in the scene to kinda showcase that there's a 3D camera motion happening. So let's get started and choose your point tracking clip and throw it into a new composition. And there we go. And I got all these clips from Pexels, which is a free, royalty-free website where you can source lots of footage to play with. And I'm just gonna go ahead and save this out. There we go. Make sure to always save your projects. So you never, never lose where you add your project. I'm going to make a new null and call it tracking. So to make a new null, you can either right-click here in the composition and go to New Null. Or you can do it the old school way by going into Layer New Null Object. So make sure to select or appointed tracking clip. And then right here at the bottom, you should have the tracking section. And if you don't see that you can always go to Window and choose tracker right here. So it makes sure your clip is selected. Click Track Motion. And now it's going to pull up a new window here. And here are all the options that you're going to have for your tracking. And you're going to see a little tracker point shows up. So I think a good way to get started is to kind of track 1. And then once you figured out how that works, That's when you can transition to tracking two points in the scene. So you can see we're doing our motion source is the video here. We have the first tracker because you could do multiple different tracking sequences in on top of one clip. And we're doing transform. So let's go ahead and zoom in. And if you click on the inside of the box, not on the plus, because you can see that the icon changes just inside of the square area. And you can click and drag it and you can move the point over. And I'm middle clicking the mouse in order to kind of hover in the sequence. Or you can also hold space and click and move. So I'm gonna go ahead and place this on the button. And there's two things that you should know about the point tracker. And it is the two squares that are in here. So they, they serve a purpose. They're not just a visual thing. So the inside square is what tells the computer the area that you're trying to track. So I'm just going to go ahead and make this in the shape of a button. There we go. You see I'm covering the entire button in this square. And then this bigger square is the area to search in. So if you have a really fast moving shot and there's buttons like flying across the screen. You're going to have to make your search area much, much bigger. But that's going to take more computing power. So since this video is kind of shot and slow motion, you could probably go with something like this. And just to save time, I'm going to go ahead and just trim this video to be like 20 seconds or so. And that way you don't have to track the entire thing. And at the bottom here you're going to see just a play button and it says Analyze forward. So once you click this, you're going to see that computer is going to go frame by frame. And. Best-case scenario, it's going to stick to the button as you can see here. So let's just give it some time to play through. And I'm going to fast-forward this next bit. Okay, so I'm just going to pause it right here. I think this many frames as good enough for our example. We're just going to trim comp to work area. And now the next step and you get to see kind of the path that it went along and tracked on. And the next step is to edit our target. So once you hit Edit Target, it's going to pull the menu for you to choose. And you're going to choose the null object that we created. Tracking, hit Okay, hit Apply over the x and y. So these are the dimensions. So if you wanted to track something that is only going, let's say up and down, you can actually apply the y direction. But we're doing both because you're trying to track this button. So hit Okay. It's going to take a second. And as you can see, there's a lot of keyframes now for the actual tracking. And then if you check out the actual track or null, you're going to see there's a position keyframe because that's exactly what you're tracking, is just the position, no rotation or anything. And now this null object is actually sticked to the button, as you can see here, it's following the motion of the button. So the next step that I'm just gonna do for this tutorial is I'm just going to add text. Let's add just enough for us the texts that's just add make it black, left-aligned it. So now that you have the textarea left aligned, we're just going to bring it over above her and just parented to the tracking. And now as you can see, it's taking to where she is. So you can even track like maybe little arrow or something and It's going to point to her. So you can see now it's a double red and it's always facing in one direction. Like the band, because we just tracked a position. There's no rotation, no skill involved. So that was tracking a single point. Now that you've learned the basics of 1 tracking, it's easier to learn the rest. So with the other two options, rotate and scale, it works the exact same way as it does with the single point tracker, but now you have two different points. And After Effects can understand the distance and the orientation of those two points. Make sure to choose two points that are on the same plane. So if you're tracking something, let's say you just want to track the orientation of, let's say, something on a wall, make sure you are selecting the two points on the wall and not something like the wall and then the table that's like five feet away because the distance of those two things are going to be different. To get started on the 2 tracker, you have this footage here of somebody just standing by some kind of pillar. It looks like there by train station. And we're going to be tracking some of these features here. To kind of track the position and rotation and scale. We're going to once again just take our point tracking to put it into a new composition. Let's go ahead and make a new null object again and call this track King. And like before, we're going to click on our footage, go into the tracker, track motion. And similar to before we're going to take your little point and make sure whatever element you're tracking, they're not going to get covered by something else. So you can see her head is here. So I'm going to try to choose something that is out of the way. So I'm just going to choose this bolt is bolt here looks pretty good. And now this is where it's different than before. We're going to make sure to rotation and scale. So here you can actually choose the second. I'm just going to use another one of these bolts here. There we go. And this should be good enough search area. And once again, I'm just going to crop my seed to something like 200 frames. Just that way we don't have to spend too much time in this tutorial. And let's go ahead and hit play. So as you can see, we're getting some, some weird jagged motion here. So if you're actually going to reset this, and let's give it another try. Maybe try to find a feature that might work a little bit better. I'm thinking V could try maybe this section of the bolt. And this one looked pretty fine when we were tracking. Because the goal is to try to make it a stick as good as we can do the surface. This is looking much, much better. And I think we started tracking only halfway in. Yes, So we're also going to track this backwards. So it doesn't really matter where you start your tracking as long as you cover the entire scene. So there we go. This looks pretty solid. Never going to go to Edit Target. Go to the tracking here, okay? Apply over x and y. And if you've already got some experience with this, so this makes it easier. And let's go ahead and call this Street Station. Very original. This is fine. I think I can go with white text and we can also make a new solid. Just for this example, I'm usually there was a dark green station colors and I'm just going to make a rounded off sign. This is once again, just for an example, you don't have to follow this at all. So now you have this green station. Let's kinda try to place it nicely. Same thing with is great. I'm actually going to align it to the middle. Bam. And I'm going to take the Street Station parented to this solid here. And I'm just going to scale the solid down just so it looks a little bit better. And we're actually going to rotate it a little bit to match the perspective somewhat. Yeah, that looks about right. So now you're adding this here. And now the best part is you can take this solid track it parented to the tracking null. And when you play you see it sticks to the position and rotation of how this pillar moves. This is kind of like the lazy way of 3D tracking because we're planar tracking where you just need it to be in the same place. And then if you want to start making the scene of the cooler, you can try to blend it in and add some shadows. You can even rotoscoping head to kinda make it go in front of the sine, especially if you drop the sign down. And the great thing with tracking is you can move all the things afterwards. So you can move it here and it's still going to stick. You can move it here. And it's still going to stick as long as it's in the same plane as the element that you are tracking. So if you wanted to stick it there, you're going to have to track this item. You can't really use this scene for it. So that's kind of the basics of the 2 tracker inside of After Effects. Congratulations, now you know how to use the point tracker, it After Effects. In the next section, you're going to learn how to use a planar tracker to track things like screens, walls, phones, all, all sorts of things. I'll see you in the next section. 3. Planar Tracking: Welcome to the plenary tracking section of the course. We're going to be using Mocha for this, which is a tracking tool that comes inside of After Effects. And it's mostly used to track surfaces. Unlike the point tracker which uses points this well, you just plains, it's in the name. So to get great results, make sure that the service you're tracking has a consistent texture. A grid helps tracking points really help and make sure that the texture isn't moving. So if you're trying to track the screen to replace it later, make sure there isn't a video playing on that screen because that's kinda mess up with the track. So now you're going to be exploring planner tracking. And it's kind of similar to the 2D tracker with the points, except it's a lot easier to track, in my opinion. So this is the clip you're going to be using. So you can see there's a camera moving around. Good amount. But there's a really great texture here of a brick wall that's going to be really easy to track. It's very consistent the entire time the videos really sharp. There's practically practically no motion blur. I'm pretty sure this was shot on a phone. So average is going to take this throat into a new comp. I'm just going to, you know, maybe you once again just take 200 frames to keep this pretty, pretty short. And the way we are doing cleaner tracking is inside of moca, which comes with After Effects. So all you're going to need to do is go to animation. And you're going to click track in Boris Effects mocha. And once you do that, it's actually going to apply an effect to your clip. So you're gonna go to Effect Controls. And if you don't see that window, you go to Window. And it's going to be at the bottom here, Effect Controls. And you can see there's mocha AE, and a big button that says mocha. So what you're gonna do is you're going to click on that and wait for a new window to pop up. So usually when it opens up, it's going to ask a million questions, but I just always ignore them. Let's just give it some time to load the side later. And let me scale this window so that you can actually see what's going on. Great. So the layout might be confusing at first, but you'll really get used to it after awhile. So the timeline is here at the bottom, and you've got a clip. Click this little mouse tool, and scrub through the timeline. It is definitely much, much slower, but none of that matters because the only thing is you're going to be using is this little spline tool. So this is x. This is similar to the same way as I think it's called Roto Bezier or something in After Effects where when you click around it, auto, auto curves things. So what we're gonna do is we're just going to click and click here. Click here, click here. And then once you left-click, it actually just exits out. And we're just going to, you see these blue, blue lines. So these are actually two angle and curve your edges. So we're just going to completely pull these out because you have a pretty flat plane. Most of the time it doesn't really matter because it's just analyzing what's inside of this box, which is why this tool is really great. And in the Track Motion options, I'm going to turn on perspective because the person is moving around but the camera. So you're not just only trying to skew and rotate, scale and transform the also want to change the perspective. Because you're going to be sticking maybe like a fake poster for something on here. So once this is set, you can just go ahead and hit this track button. You see track forward and it's going to do all the work for you. Okay? So it's done doing its thing. And if you play back, look at that, it sticks pretty solid to it. So we're gonna go back to frame one. And there's a button over here. You see this blue and with an S. So that actually shows you the plane. So you can choose and angle it to wherever you want. So for this instance, I'm just going to put it to the exact area that he tracked. And what that's basically going to do is once you want to place things into the scene, it's going to Corner Pin things. So whatever composition It's going to be corner pinning it. So we're gonna go ahead and show planar grid. So things that are going to stick right there. And if you want, this is also another great way to do it, depending on how you like to work. So you can either take this and kind of be done with it, or you can actually expand it to the edges. Okay? And this way you can use this as a reference frame for how to position things. So I'm going to show you. It's way easier once you get to see it in action. So I'm just going to do that and make sure to save. So hit Control S if you're on a PC or Command S if you're on a Mac. And you can basically close this window and it's going to import all your settings into aftereffects. So we're just going to save the project. Once again, you don't want to lose anything. And before we import any of the tracking data, you're going to actually make a new solid. So I'm going to go to New Solid, make it comp size. The color does not matter at all. It's just going to keep it green. Hit, Okay. And then you're going to right-click on it and go to pre-compose. And I'm going to call this corner and frame. You can really call it anything you want, but it does not really matter. And I'm going to hit Okay? So what this does now is you have a solid inside of this composition. And this is going to be great for when you're going to be, if you want to let say, replace a poster in the future, whatever you're tracking, if you want to be able to change things that are tracked to that wall, this is a great way to do it without having to underpin things like all over again. So I'm just going to hide it for now. And I'm going to click on my plane tracking. And I'm going to open down the tracking data. We're going to hit Create Track data. And this is where it's going to load in the info that we tracked from mocha. And we're going to be able to choose which tracking data we want to import. So you can track a million things in the scene. And then every single time you can actually choose which which tracking NPO you want to bring in. Here, it's going to be easy since we only have one layer. So we're just going to choose Layer one. Click OK. And you can see it's bringing in all the keyframe to Info. And we are going to actually do quarter pin supports motion blur so that it's, Let's say it was shot with a shaky camera and there were some motion blur involved. You can actually recreate that same motion blur inside of algebra. So we're going to choose the layer to export to and choose our Corner Pin frame. And you can just go ahead and hit Apply export. You're not gonna see anything because our Corner Pin frame is turned off. But if you turn it on, it doesn't look like anything is happening. But once you click on the corner pin frame, you can see that it actually has key framed things already happening. So I'm going to just copy the plane tracking video. And I'm going to go into or corner frame right here, this pre-comp that we made with the green solid inside. And I'm going to paste it in. And I'm going to right-click on it and choose guide layer. So what this is going to do is when you're not in this composition previewing it. It's never going to render it out. So this is just used as a guide. Now I'm going to need to add some kind of poster here because this is just being used for reference. I'm just going to go ahead and just choose something from my desktop. Probably just take a picture of me or something. Work. And I'm going to drag it in. And let's go ahead and scale it. Let's put it here. And I'm gonna go ahead and use a Corner Pin to place it to how I want. So kinda try to match the perspective a bit. That looks decent, doesn't have to be too crazy. And I'm also going to go ahead and just add a drop shadow to it. Just to kind of make it stand out a little, make it a little cool. Family. You know, you've got a little drop shadow on there. Looking pretty neat. So let's go ahead and just turn off all these layers. And you can see now we just have this, this picture. And now we can go back to planar tracking. You can actually see that it is now on the wall. And if you play through, it's going to be on there the entire time. We try to preview this theorem. And you can take a look. There we go. Look at that. It is on the wall. So you can go crazy with it. You can, you know, start matching the lighting. You can start adding other effects. Do it. You can make it look like a digital billboard. You can get some footage of Times Square and then pretend that you've had your face on every single screen. You know, there's lots of ways you can use this. And it's really great for doing things like screen replacements, you know, putting things onto computers and post, or just, you know, things like this, tracking walls, tracking surfaces. There's literally endless possibilities to use this. That's the basics of planar tracking. Next, you'll discover my favorite type of tracking, which is the 3D camera tracker. It can help you create some amazing effects, but it can also be problematic depending on how your footage was shot. I'll see you in the next section. 4. 3D Tracking: You're almost at the end. In this section, you'll learn how to use the 3D camera tracker and how to optimize the footage for best results. If the shot you're trying to track has moving elements in it, it's a good idea to pre-comp the footage and mask the moving sections out. That way when you're actually running the 3D track. It's not trying to figure out and use the moving elements in the scene to figure out the camera track. All right, now VR at my favorite report, 3D camera tracking. When I say unlimited things you could do with this, I am not joking. So this video you can see we have the camera moving, but we also have an issue that I mentioned in the intro. And it's, you have a moving object. And this object happens to be this dude walking around. So we're going to need to do is mask them out. And after that, it's going to be a one-click deal. So let's go ahead and choose our 3D tracking clip and throw it into a new composition. And I'm going to go ahead and pre-compose it because you're going to need to add a mask to it. So I'm gonna go to pre-compose and call this masking out guy. And you can leave all the attributes does not matter. Double-click to open it. And now VR in our 3D mascot, I mean, 3D tracking. I'm just going to choose the pink, the pen tool, have roto bezier, so I never have to make any curves. And I can just go ahead and click here and just select this guy. Bam, I'm going to hit M on my keyboard. That way I can pull up the math cop mask options, and I'm just going to choose none. So I can kind of see what we're working here with. It's ever going to go ahead and track him. So we're going to hit this keyframe here. And let's just go to the end here. Bam. And it looks like the very last frame actually disappears. So we're going to want to get rid of that. You don't want to deal with that. There we go. So last frame, I'm just going to, you know, just kinda since there's a lot to work with, it doesn't need to be perfect. There's lots of elements in the scene. If whatever you're masking out is really, really huge, let's say it takes up a third of the entire screen. I would say you should probably go in with a little bit more detail. Because the more things that you have on the screen, the better your tracking will end up being. So I'm just kinda doing a rough job here. Just kinda making sure that anything that's in motion does not will not show up. So here he makes a pretty big move. So I'm just gonna make sure to make this mascot bit bigger. Up. He swings as our mat here, so I'm just going to swing this out. Cu It's pretty decent here. Let's go back. We get that. We were flying through this pretty quick. If you're doing an edit, this isn't, this isn't too bad of a deal. Okay? So you kinda basically mapped them out. That's pretty good. Let's save our project. And now under the mask options, choose Subtract. There we go. This guy is cut out. And just to kind of help the computer out a bit, I usually add a black solid and throat underneath that there's no Alpha channel to mess anything up. So let's go back to our 3D tracking here. And you can see we have a video and the dude is missing, that he's gone. So that's pretty good. Now we are getting to the best part, which is to go to our tracker, window, tracker, and first button, track camera. So click on that. And you can go to Effect Controls if you want. And it's going to give you a percentage of how much time is left to track. And all you gotta do is sit back, get a cup of coffee, relax, and just wait for the computer to do its thing. Perfect. So I don't know if you can see here, but there's lots of little tracking points all over the scene. And for this example, let's, let's pick out some different items that we want. So I think it'd be kind of cool to maybe choose these three points and create a solid and camera. Great. And let's stay on this 3D camera tracker. Let's say on this 3D camera tracker here. And let's see what other, other things you can pick out. So I think another good place you could put a tracker on is maybe kinda like these pots. So let's go ahead and choose three things and do create null. So kinda via placement for that. Let's see. And then maybe you've got maybe something far away. Yeah, maybe a node right here, create null. So now we have three different things where we can put things into and as well as use some 3D effects like particles. So I'm going to start with something simple first. So we have this null here. And this is great because we can basically get the orientation. So when you place a solid, when you place this all out like this, you can see that the face is connected to two to the actual surface. So what that can help us do is if you do new text. And let's type in store, for instance. And let's add a black stroke to it. And the fill over stroke, bam. So let's make it just another typography is going to look ugly, but that doesn't matter to me. We're going to make it 3D by clicking this little cube icon. And we're going to hit P for position. Same thing with the solid. And we're going to click on the position, copy it, and paste it. And then we're going to hit R to bring up the orientation on both and copy it from solid, paste it. So let's go ahead and turn off this. And we need to orient it a little bit, little bit more, correct. So I'm just going to rotate the z-axis, bam, and then I'm going to hit P and the y I need to, I just want to bring it down. So I'm just going to move it on the y-axis. So now you can see the have a sign that says store and it sticks to the wall here. And then we can also, let's take a look at the null with the GPS. Once again, there's one frame that was just an empty frame, so I just got a height this. Okay? And then we have a null here so we can actually make another text and straight plant P. And then with this node we're going to go copy the position and put it on the plant. And let's just move it out and the x-axis a little. And I can see the plant sticks to where the plant is. And then we have this last one here. We can once again just make some text and just call this mountane. Oops, misspelled that mountains. P. Let's get this position here. Oh yeah, you gotta make it 3D. You see we made a mistake. 3d hit P, and then he got mountains. Let's go ahead and just bring it up a little so it's on this wall and maybe scale it up so you can kinda see it better. And now if you look at the scene, we have everything tracked to their exact positions. And the best part for using something like this is you actually have the exact camera motion. So I'm just going to save this. And if you want to bring the guy back in, we can actually go back into the composition. Turn off the black solid, and go to mask, hit None. And now when you go back you can see it. Actually everything happens. And the guys back in the sea and doing, doing its thing. So my favorite part for this is actually creating a solid. And let's call this particles. And you can use something like anything from the red giant sweet. So I'm just gonna go ahead and go to particular. So obviously, you don't have to follow this because this is a paid plug-in. This is just kinda to show you the idea of what you could do with 3D tracking. So I really like using this to kind of add a little spice to the scene so you can add. Fog, you can add snow, you can add smoke, fire elements. There's lots of different things you can add. And it will work with the 3D cameras. So, you know, as the camera is going through the scene, Let's say you have a shot of somebody sitting at the computer and the camera is slowly, slowly going through the scene towards the person. You can add lots of cool things and they're going to interact with the camera. So I'm just gonna open up designer and just choose one of their presets. Something simple. Probably just going to choose, like snow or like falling leaves. Falling leaves would be cool. Let's go into the there we go. We've got leaves. Yeah, leaves could be cool. Yeah. Okay. Apply. Great. So you're gonna see that if I just solo the particles. And so the 3D camera, you can see that they're actually moving. This is just so we can render it faster. Actually moving the same way that the camera is. And it's going to be more, more apparent if I slow down the time on it. So let me go ahead and extend the life of six seconds so you can see all the leaves. And in the global controls, Let's rerun it so you can have kinda have some leaves already starting AP. Physics time factor is 2.2. That way. Everything is happening in slow motion. Yeah, Perfect. So there we go. Let's un-solo these. And you'll be able to see that the leaves are actually interacting with the camera. Let's add some more depth to it. Let's do XYZ individual 630. And let's really crank this, crank this up. So you get lots and lots of depth in the scene. Now regard so daily this and we got and see camera motion sticking into the leaves. This rotation. There we go. So and then, you know, once, once you add depth of field to mine, you can add a little more post effects. You can make the leaves look better. You can admire smoke or its scope, the guy, so that the leaves are behind them as well. There's lots of cool ways you can utilize the 3D camera tracker. This is just one of the examples. So hopefully you guys learned something from this 3D tracker, and I'll see you guys in the, in the outro. 5. Outro & Assignment: Congrats, you made it to the end. I hope you learned a lot in this course and I can't wait to see what you're gonna do with all these brand new skills. So I've included the example footage that I've used in this course. So feel free to experiment with it, upload your own results. You can use it in any way that you want. If you ever forget how something is done, feel free to go back into the course and watch any of the sections again. So have fun and enjoy this new skill.