Motion-tracking is an increasinglyimportant part of the editorial toolkit. If your workload is anything like mine, I'm sure you've had to replace something in a shot, like a sign, logo or billboard. Or perhaps you needed to do screen-replacement on an iPhone or tablet computer in a scene. Motion-tracking tools track those objects as they move through a clip, allowing you to make the necessary changes to the footage.
Most of us turn to thebuilt-in point trackers in apps like Adobe After Effects to get these types of shots done. These tracking tools require a user to select pointsin the frame that remain consistent relative to the object being trackedthroughout the entire shot. Point-tracking often runs into problems when an object is out of focus or obscured, or if it leaves and re-enters the frame. Often, getting good point tracks requires a mix of experience and luck.
You might also need to employmore advanced tracking techniques, such as using a 3D Camera Solver tointegrating 3D characters or objects into live footage and set extensions, removingunwanted elements, wires, rigs and tracking marks, doing digital beauty work, camera and image stabilization or calibration andcorrection oflens distortion. Regardless of the type of tracking work you do, planar-tracking technology has many advantages over point trackers, and it requires less experience on your part to get a successful track.
Planar-tracking technology was invented by Imagineer Systems in 2001. It has a long and successful history of useon big featuressuch as theHobbitfilms,The Amazing Spider-Manand theHarry Potterseries. Notably, in 2013 Imagineer’s team was awarded a Scientific and Engineering Award bythe Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the development of mocha
Built upon Imagineer'splanar-tracking image engine, moch
a follows “pixel patterns” through the most difficult conditions and accurately follows translation, scale, rotation, skew and perspective. Thenewest version of the engine powers mocha Pro 4
and mocha Plus
(formerly mocha AE). These new releases feature a slew of new tools to helpwith motion-trackingand rotoscoping. A new stereo 3D workflow adds stereo support to planar tracking, andPython scripting support allows facilities to further customize their workflows. Other features includea new customizable keyboard shortcut interface, support for Adobe Premiere Pro masks, Nuke 7 Tracker export and improved Nuke Roto exports, and an improved user interface with high-resolution retina display support.
Pro vs. Plus
and mocha Pro
are separate, independent apps. mocha Pro
is the flagship product with advanced modules for Object Removal, 3D tracking, Stabilization and more. It can exportto most industry-standard formats including After Effects, Nuke, Flame andC4D. mocha Plus
(formerly Mocha AE v3) is a standalone utility for tracking and masking withextra new features includingsupport for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, Motion, and Boris FX. You can find a full comparisonon Imagineer's website
The user interface is easy to navigate. You start by importing your footage. You’ll need to have the video clips you want to work with ready to go,and best practices dictate that youonly import as much as you need. Long files can be time-consuming to process, slowing down the tracking.
In mocha Plus
or mocha Pro
, you first define the area you want to select by drawing a selection with X splines or bezier shape tools. In general, X splines work better for tracking, especially with perspective motion. You can be fairly loose with your spline — the Planar Tracker is intelligent enough to discard pixel movement that doesn’t conform to the movement of the majority of the pixels within the shape. When you work with the mocha
tools, you will need to look for planes in the clip. More specifically, you will need to look for planes that coincide with movements you want to track.
You then track forward or backward to capture its position throughout the clip, and mocha
will automatically follow the object as it moves. If the track isn’t quite right, there are many tools to help solve tracking challenges with pixel-perfect accuracy.
You can also access some additional tools related to screen replacement, object removal, advanced rotoscoping tools, stabilization, a 3D camera solver, the lens module forcorrecting and removinglens distortion, and powerful stereo 3D support.
Finally, you export the tracking information to the format of your choice. The software can export tracks to Adobe After Effects CS4 throughCC;Apple Final Cut Pro, Final Cut Express, Motion, and Shake; AutodeskCombustion, Flame, Flint, Inferno, and Smoke; Avid DS; Boris FX plugins; Eyeon Fusion (Eyeon became a wholly owned subsidiary of Blackmagic Design in early September); The FoundryNuke and Nuke X; HitFilm 2 Ultimate; and Quantel’s generation Q systems. It can also export masks into Adobe Premiere Pro CC, export shapes into Final Cut, export rotopaint nodes to Nuke, export shapes into Final Cut and After Effects, and export clips and shapes into QuickTime formats. There’s also support for Maya, Assimilate Scratch, Maxon Cinema 4D, and Red Giant.
on the Imagineer web site are really well done and offer in-depth lessons on almost every one of Mocha’s many parts. The online manual is also really good, with step-by-step instructions with pictures.
The impressive list of new features in this upgrade and the speed and accuracy at which mocha can improve tracking and rotoscoping makes it a must-have addition to your editing toolkit.
If you’re a Premiere Pro user who wants tracked opacity masks or an After Effects user looking for a new 3D camera solver, then take a look at mocha Plus. If you’re using a higher-end finishing package or need one of its other features, then check out mocha Pro instead.
Not sure whether mocha
fits the bill for your workflow? Check out the Imagineer Systems site. Both versions are available as free trials.
Nino Del Padre is a music video and commercial director and DP who has been shooting music videos, commercials, shorts and promotional spots professionally for over 20 years.