Make 3D tracking work in AE

This morning, Peter Logarusic, a compositor from Germany and a member at fxPhd, posted a set of instructions to massage a .ma file so that the tracking data works properly in After Effects.

If you matchmove with Boujou or Syntheyes, you might not even be aware that there’s a problem, since both of those write .ma files which work more or less perfectly in AE once you accept that the camera is oriented around 0,0,0 and not the center of the composition. Other trackers, however, such as Matchmover, don’t export all of the data After Effects needs, so that source image size and frame rate (which are obviously crucial) default to useless standards (i.e. 320 x 240, 30 fps), andthe nulls don’t get named properly to show up (the names have to begin with “null” although you can freely rename them once they’ve been imported into AE). This stuff causes no end of frustration for which Adobe is (unfairly in this case) blamed.

The top level tips:

– don’t export 2000 tracks etc.. only export a couple hundred or the ones you need. Otherwise AE won’t be able to handle it.
– try to use the scaling with a coordinate system in the matchmove program to get a proper scene scale.
– try to set the coordinate axis in your tracking program to y-up and also set up a coordinate system for your solve.
Still if the tracks and camera aren’t positioned and oriented properly after import you can always parent all tracks and the camera to a null and rotate and move this around.

What follows are specific instructions to edit the file; I opened up a .ma file in TextWrangler and found that the specific items may be in very different order from what is described in Peter’s post.

If you have been frustrated by this workflow and find that this helps, or not, by all means leave a comment (either here or over at finthrow).

16 February 2007 | after effects | Comments

One Response to “Make 3D tracking work in AE”

  1. 1 Is Adobe After Effects a Pro Level Application? at FreshDV 7 May 2007 @ 10:13 am

    […] don’t include all the data AE needs when exporting .ma files. Here are a few tips on dealing with that issue. *The “Mythbusting” series of posts is a discussion on the viability of Adobe After […]