Match Motion Tracking

Sometimes your footage falls flat. It’s a reality of the video production business. When that happens, do you panic? Do you give up? No. You try to liven things up. Now, you might think we’re treading dangerously close to that hated phrase, “We’ll fix it in post.” But, hear us out. You always plan everything meticulously and never let mistakes slide on set because you think you can fix them later. You never hope to address things in post when there’s a better solution within arm’s reach. THAT BEING SAID, the reason that old cliche exists is because you can fix a lot in post. Not everything, of course. Contrary to popular belief, editors are (mostly) not wizards.

Among other things, you can incorporate graphics, logos, and even text to existing footage. When you do, one tricky part can be ensuring everything works together seamlessly, so your audience doesn’t feel bombarded. Match motion or camera tracking helps combine animated elements with real footage in a way that makes everything line up throughout the video.

How match motion tracking works

When inserting any graphical or textual element into footage, it’s key that the content follows the right path in order to not interfere with what you originally shot. Match motion tracking allows you to put your animations on a path to keep up with what’s really moving in the video, while appearing natural the whole time. Match motion tracking takes two separate elements and merges them together. The effect is that of a single element moving through the scene.

On a fundamental level, this is accomplished in post by taking live footage and placing it on a virtual, 3D set. In this environment, a simulated camera lets you look at the footage in just the right way to insert 3D objects, created in an animation suite, into the real space you shot. Enhancing your video production project with a little 3D magic (again, not real magic) can bring more realism into a scene, making a greater impact on your audience.

Case study: MoistureShield

We’ve got a lot of love for this video. It turned out great, and in it, you can see how match motion tracking works, incorporating graphics without stopping the movement of the live footage. In this case, it’s the text which glides through. Eight seconds into the video, the text follows a person walking across the deck, reminding the viewer of all the activities they can do outside with the right space. Inspiration continues 20 seconds in, as a family walks down their deck stairs. Valuable product information then smoothly coasts across the frame around 31 seconds to reinforce the spot’s message.

Each shot combines the smooth movement across a MoistureShield deck with enticing text. We  draw the audience in and get people thinking about redoing their backyard. It’s a dynamic and informative video that firmly establishes the brand.

The right software to seamlessly track

Following patterns in a shot in order to add digital elements to the scene means converting the video into a 3D space. The math can be… complicated. Motion is tracked in existing footage, which is why having the help of the right software is so important.

Successfully implementing match motion tracking requires a two-step process. First, the software collects data. We then import the data into an editing application to integrate the graphic, object, or text into the footage. Our team at ECG Productions uses Syntheyes to generate tracking data, which is then brought into Maya or After Effects.

This enables us to create some dynamic video content! Projects with:

  • Special effects
  • Unique backdrops
  • Animated characters

You can also place CG into a real environment shot with an actual camera, and add a whole other layer of character. For all their faults, you can see this in action in the Transformers movies, anytime the Autobots and Decepticons destroy a very real city (poor Chicago).

To learn more about how match motion tracking can enable you to add 3D elements into your footage for more dynamic effect, contact us today!