Motion tracking allows you to track the movement of an object and then apply the tracking data for that movement to another object. With text, graphics, and/or 3D elements you can add objects to an environment that look natural and flow with the motion of the video.
Motion Tracking Examples
This video from Joseph Herman of Legend Multimedia shows a few good examples of 3D motion tracking to give you an idea.
Programs like Cinema 4D, 3DS Max, Blender, Houdini FX, and other modeling/rendering softwares allow you to create 3D elements for motion tracking. You can also get started with simple text and flat images as well.
Below you can find video tutorials and helpful guides for learning how to motion track in Adobe After Effects and stabilize text, footage, graphics, and more. These start with some basic single-point tracking techniques, and move up to more advanced techniques used by professional filmmakers.
Basic Motion Tracking in After Effects
This video from Michael Tierney is a fantastic video to get you started on the basics of motion tracking text/graphics in AE. It is only two and a half minutes, but gets right to the point to help you learn the correct settings, layers, and keyframes to get going.
Trevor from Wistia shares a great and easy tutorial for tracking text in After Effects with the single-point tracker.
Get a better understanding of tracking camera movement with 3D effects in this AE tutorial from Cinecom.
A great overview of various motion tracking techniques in After Effects. In this video Jonas, from Untamed Science, covers tracking points, position adjustments, 3D tracking, and more.
To create advanced visual effects that track your shot, you can use Mocha in After Effects. This beginner tutorial from Surfaced Studio helps you get started with the planar tracker in AE.
Advanced Tracking and Stabilization Techniques
For more advanced techniques involving 3D elements, camera stabilization, and special effects view the tutorials below.
School of Motion Guide to After Effects Motion Tracking
This is a fantastic guide from School of Motion sharing 6 ways to motion track in After Effects. In their article, they cover the various types of motion tracking starting from single-point tracking all the way up to planar and spline tracking.
Trey Morgan covers advanced tracking features with Mocha for After Effects in this tutorial. It starts with basic techniques, but moves to a challenging clip that involves obstructions, tracking off screen, and more.
Whether you are looking to add some simple text to your footage or you’d like to add complex visual effects that track your scene, I hope this roundup of tutorials and guides was helpful to you.
How do you motion track in After Effects? Leave a comment below with your techniques and special tricks!
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Special thanks to JESHOOTS for the background image used in the cover photo.