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Tip: Track a Mask in After Effects with TrackerViz

Average bad tracks instead of retrying for perfect ones, attach them to mask points

By Mark Christiansen | April 19, 2009


It's Script Sunday, and today's script is so useful it made the cut and was included in the latest edition of After Effects Studio Techniques. TrackerViz was written by Charles Bordenave, the guy behind NABscripts (no apparent relation to the conference beginning this weekend), based on requests and ideas from artist Sean Kennedy. Here's an excerpt in which I describe it.

If you are having a difficult time getting an After Effects track to stick, there's an alternative to continually reworking a single track; several not-so-accurate tracks, averaged together, will often be more accurate than any alternative approach. The setup involved is a slight pain, however, which is where the script comes in; it automates the averaging process.

TrackerViz also lets you interchange tracked nulls and mask points, making it possible to effectively track in a mask (which is otherwise more or less impossible in After Effects). You first track a set of nulls, each with a unique name, corresponding to vertices on the shape. Select them in the order that you would draw them, and in TrackerViz choose and apply Layers to Shape in the Function menu. The result is not a shape layer but much more usefully, a solid with a keyframed mask applied to it. The mask can be used to replace any equivalent hand-drawn masks applied to layers.

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Brett802: | April, 19, 2009

TrackerViz is a cool script and was really a necessity in my book before Mocha came along. Andrew Kramer at videocopilot also had a nice technique for using seperate nulls and overlapping their tracking data that he demonstrated in his “set extensions” tutorial. Where would we be without all the sharing out there? Thanks to you all.

Mark Christiansen: | April, 20, 2009

Brett, I’ve tried the new shape tracking features in MochaAE 2.0 and I’m not sold - it’s a great plane tracker but for points/edges… not so much.

Brett802: | April, 20, 2009

    I agree with you about Mocha to some degree. It’s a little clunky to work with since it’s integration with AE isn’t as smooth as I would like to see. I always take into account the principles of AE’s native tracker when I know I’ll be using it on a shot. It makes things go more quickly in AE. However client supplied video is another story alltogether. Nabscripts is a cool site. Everyone out there should check it out as well as AE Enhancers (another great expressions and script site). The bottom line is the more “tools” at your disposal, the easier your life will be as a motion artist. Thanks Mark for your insight.

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