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intro 3D tracking

The use of tracking for placing titles in scenes has become very popular. Final Cut Pro X editor Matt Holder gives us an introduction to the different types of motion tracking and how the techniques can be used to put 3D text or graphics into a scene.

The last time we published an article from Matt, it was his FCPX user story on the breaking of the skinny dipping world record. No nudity in this latest video, he is back with a tutorial that looks at the different types of tracking. He's also written a few tips below to help you achieve good tracking results.



We all work so hard to create production value in our work. We light, frame,mic and lens as cinematically as our budgets will allow. Motion tracking is another effective way to add perceived production value to your work. If you use the tracking to tie in with your story the effect can be very powerful.

I know for a fact that there are a lot of video producers that want to learn how to incorporate motion tracking into their work, especially with camera movement being so fashionable these days. But many of you don’t know where to start. I made this video to give you an intuitive feel for the concepts of the 3 types of tracking. Single point tracking, 4 Corner / Planar tracking and finally 3D Motion tracking.

However there are some considerations when you are shooting for motion tracking.

Motion blur is the enemy of motion tracking. The software needs nice clean pixels to track. This means any rapid movements are pretty much a no no. Supported and considered camera moves are your friend. Hand held can really make your life difficult - unless you shoot high frame rates to give the software more temporal data to work with. If you use a dolly, steadicam, gimbal (hand held or on a drone) then you will be right.

Shallow depth of field is also not great for motion tracking unless you are tracking what is in focus. Shallow depth of field is particularly bad for 3d tracks -so stay away from long focal lengths and fat apertures.

My personal arsenal of motion tracking software consists of Apple Motion’s built in point tracker, a stand alone Mocha tracking package as well as the dumbed down but super convenient TrackX and SliceX plug ins from Coremelt. These plug ins license Mocha’s tracking engine for a time saving basic planar tracking that works within Final Cut Pro X.

For 3D tracking I use the super awesome PFMatchit which tracks clips and exports incredibly handy Motion projects. And the ability to throw the AMAZING 3D Text with matched scene lighting and animated environments is quite frankly science fiction come true.

Unfortunately PFMatchit has been EOLed so there is a huge hole if the market for a clever operator to jump in and build a plug in or stand alone tracker (I’m looking at you Imagineer, Boujou and Syntheyes!) PF Track it can still be had but at a hefty price ($1650 US).

After Effects has some Mocha technology built in as well as some 3D camera tracking technology built in - but I don’t use it as I am not in that ecosystem - but I know many of you are.

So thats it for Motion tracking - for some extra inspiration have a look at these 2 fantastic examples of Motion tracked title sequences.


Panic Room

Now go out and create your own!


matt holderMatt Holder runs Reflex Films Australia in Perth, West Australia.

Like many of you he is a freelance shooter and editor. Through Reflex Films Matt creates video productions for business and local government organisations as well as those all important personal projects.

You may find him editing a multi-cam TV Pilot, chasing 50 motorbikes across Australia or dodging waves on a surfing shoot.



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