Motion tracking is an extremely useful tool when it comes to video production. The ability to follow objects and work with them is a vital skill for any aspiring video editor.
And when it comes to motion tracking software there are a number of different apps available that can help, taking it from a challenging, difficult procedure to a simple one that can make a big impact on the quality of your video.
What is Motion Tracking?
Motion tracking is a process whereby you can use motion tracking software to track an object that is moving in a video clip. Once you have tracked the object you can start to apply all sorts of other visual effects to it — motion blur, add text, overlay images, stabilize a shot, or even delete what you are tracking — the possibilities are endless.
However, before you can do any of those things, you need to accurately track the object you want to apply those things to with your video editor's motion tracker tools. This process is motion tracking.
And there are plenty of video editing software packages on the market that can help you do it.
Best Motion Tracking Apps in 2023
The best motion tracking software makes the motion tracking technology process simple, intuitive, and easy. These are some of the best motion tracking software packages in 2023.
Boris FX Mocha Pro
As part of the Mocha Pro package of tools, Boris FX’s motion tracking software is second to none.
There’s a huge range of tools available for your video clips to track motion of different types, including Merge Tracking, Grid Scale, and Set Tracked Layer Range.
Mocha's planar tracking is unmatched in its accuracy and can export tracking, roto shapes, 3D data, and lens calibration. You can also rotoscope with fewer keyframes than ever before. The fewer manual keyframes you need, the quicker you can get your work done — so Mocha Pro is a real time-saver too.
Power Mesh allows the tracking of warped surfaces and organic objects, as well as being a powerful sub-planar tracking process.
And with compatibility across any number of NLEs (non-linear editors) you can be sure that whatever software you are using for your editing will be supported.
For the very best in motion tracking, you need Mocha Pro.
Operating System: Windows, MacOS, Linux
Cost: $49.58 monthly subscription for the entire Mocha suite including motion tracking.
- Unparalleled quality.
- Rendering improvements make this best-in-class.
- Compatible with vast range of NLEs.
- Easy to use compared to many other motion control systems.
- Streamlined workflow.
- Not the cheapest option on the list, though you get what you pay for.
If you want to dip your toe into the world of motion tracking and video editing apps, it helps to have some free software so that you can learn the tools of the trade without having to have a big financial outlay. That’s where Blender comes in.
Blender is free, open-source software and is a fantastic VFX video editing piece of software in its own right.
The latest version features automatic motion tracking and it is capable of working in both 2D motion tracking and camera tracking.
Once you’ve managed to get some tracking points from your video, the software will let you perform a variety of tasks, including removing shakiness from the original footage so things appear smoother. It will also let you build a 3D scene, based on tracking markers.
Blender is a remarkably powerful tool when it comes to motion tracking and it’s a great way to learn how to motion track — alongside all the other features it offers!
Operating system: Windows, MacOS, Linux
Version: 2.79 and later
- Great way to learn motion tracking.
- The best price of all — free.
- The 3D video compositing tools are powerful and advanced.
- Motion tracking is accurate and powerful.
- Learning curve is steep.
- Rendering isn’t the fastest.
Another example of just how powerful free video editing software can be, DaVinci Resolve is remarkably impressive given the fact that you can access its advanced editing features for nothing.
If you are editing RAW footage, doing multi-camera edits, and motion tracking then Resolve has you covered.
There are two different motion tracking modes available, Point Tracker and Planar Tracker. These give you different levels of control over your motion tracking and can be used separately or together on an object.
And Resolve allows you to track multiple objects as well, so you aren’t limited to doing one object at a time. You can set up multiple tracks to save time and effort.
You can track object frame by frame or allow the system to do it automatically. And there are plenty of motion tracking options available — up to 250, according to BlackMagic.
Free isn’t always great, but with DaVinci Resolve there’s no question as to how powerful its tracking software really is.
Operating System: Windows, MacOS, Linux
Cost: Free, $299 for DaVinci Resolve Studio
Version: DaVinci Resolve 18
- The free version is fully featured and powerful.
- Great control over motion tracking.
- Multiple tracks possible.
- Face tracking is excellent.
- Complex for newcomers to learn.
- Processing and rendering is slow unless you have powerful hardware.
Adobe After Effects
Adobe is a huge name when it comes to any kind of image processing and when it comes to motion tracking, After Effects can really deliver.
Adobe Premiere Pro is powerful but After Effects adds a whole new range of tools for any prospective video editor. It has sophisticated motion-tracking capabilities which allow you to motion track practically any object you can think of.
There are both basic and advanced editing tools available. Point Tracker, Spline Tracker, 3D Tracker, and Planar Tracker are all available, giving real flexibility and a range of approaches. You can even make inanimate things appear to be moving objects.
And because Adobe is an industry-standard, you can be confident that there are plenty of great video tutorials and learning opportunities out there.
Adobe has made a name for itself in video editing — After Effects proves why that name has been earned.
Operating System: Windows, MacOS
Cost: $20.99 monthly subscription.
- A wide number of sophisticated motion tracks.
- Extremely accurate outcomes from tracking.
- Excellent stabilization.
- Perfect integration with the rest of Adobe’s suite.
- 90-Day free trial lets you dip your toe in the water without commitment.
- Uses the usual Adobe control layout — great if you like it, awful if you don’t.
If there’s one thing that marks Filmora out among larger names like Adobe, it’s ease of use.
Filmora's motion tracking feature makes motion tracking a much more simple process and keeps a lot of the tracking data and complex settings hidden from the user and will track motion and deal with the data for you.
Simply draw round the object you want to track, start the tracking process, then choose what kind of effect you want to follow the track.
There’s a preset folder that lets you get started quickly and export anything you need or you can use Filmora’s own presets. The preset titles, texts, and mosaics make getting up and running a swift process.
However, it’s also fair to say that Filmora isn’t as fully-featured as some of the other apps on this list. The simplicity of the tool does make it a great place for learners or anyone who only needs to motion track occasionally, but if you are looking to develop your skills further then Filmora is more of a first-stop than a one-stop solution.
Operating System: Windows, Mac, with mobile Android, iOS, and iPad versions available.
Cost: $49.99 annual subscription (free version available but includes watermark)
- One of the simplest motion-tracking pieces of software available.
- Easy to learn, quick to get up and running.
- Very good tracking on objects.
- Extremely affordable compared to the big industry names.
- Easy to learn but fewer options available than other motion trackers.
- You can’t export videos without a Filmora account, which is strangely old-fashioned.
- Multiple tracks in a single clip can be difficult to arrange.
There are many different motion tracking apps on the market and they vary widely in both price and features. Choosing the right one will depend on what it is you want to achieve, as well as how far your budget will stretch.
However, armed with the right information, you can now make your choice, whether you’re a beginner setting out on your video-editing journey or an expert in the field looking for something more advanced. Just make your choice and get tracking!