Which Camera Tracking Software is everyone using?

Hey guys,
I've noticed that Camera Tracking is a topic that frequently comes up and I would like to contribute a little of my experience (which is vast, by the way) by providing/creating some tutorial resources to help out.
Whether this will be a single tutorial using the most popular software to demonstrate the workflow of an entire shot/project, several tutorials covering several aspects of Camera Tracking and Camera Data or some kind of document - I haven't decided yet. Though it would help me out if you could answer the above questions and guide that decision.
What the actual project is - kind of shot & effect etc can be decided later. If there's a decent amount of interest in this, I'm open to doing a couple of tutorial requests provided they're both popular and interesting ideas. But be warned : my overall aim isn't to create highest-quality tutorials you can follow step by step to recreate exactly what I've done, but to provide useful information that will allow you to expand your creativity with your own projects.
Cheers
HybridHalo
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Comments

  • Looking forward to this. Always good to get advice from somebody that is working in the industry.

  • Looking forward to this. Always good to get advice from somebody that is working in the industry.

    I can't remember how that started, but I know that I'm never going to live it down. :)
  • I voted 'other' on question 1 and would like to see Voodoo covered. It is a decent program for those of us who are hobbyists. I also have the student version of MatchMover 2012 (same non-commercial limitations as Voodoo), but it has a much friendlier Help setup than Voodoo.
    thank you for your willingness to do something like this.
  • Hey rtowbridge,
    I've added Voodoo as an option now. I've never used voodoo before so I'd need to learn it myself first - though I'm reasonably confident that I can figure it out. Thanks for the suggestion!
  • Awesome. I can't think of anyone I'd rather have knock up a tutorial on matchmoving. Looking forward to benefiting from a tiny bit of your vast experience, HybridHalo.
  • This is a great idea, thanks Hybrid. :D
    I've been using Voodoo for the past few months with some awesome results when I import the camera data into Blender. It gets slightly weird in HitFilm though. I always use an image sequence at 30fps so everything always matches up. I'm pretty sure it's got to do with Blender using Z up while HitFilm uses Y up. I'll do some experimenting in the next few days to see if I can reorient the camera for Y up in Voodoo so that the data will match up in HitFilm.
    The camera data does import into Blender with an empty so that you can reorient the scene if needed. Not really sure if this is possible in HitFilm yet.
    Thanks again.
    Frank.
  • Looking forward to this one HH. We use SynthEyes for our 3D tracking.
  • So I messed around with 3 seconds worth of Voodoo tracking data last night for a few hours and it seems that I was correct about the Z and Y. :dry:
    The data imports really awkward into HitFilm. The camera, camera shapes and tracking markers can all be moved around Independently of each other. I parented everything to the camera and rotated it 180 degrees so that everything would be oriented properly "Y up". The weird thing that happened is, the tracking points were no longer on what should have been the location for the floor plane, instead they were up in the air... almost out of frame.
    I added a plane and parented it's position to one of the tracking markers just to verify. It ended way up in the air as I already stated. To fix this I simply moved the plane down on the Y axis to where it should be. This worked but as I scrolled through the footage... I'll be damned if the plane didn't jump around a little bit. :huh:
    I checked the camera data and footage in Blender which obviously fit perfectly. :D

    I'm thinking that it's not just an issue of the camera data being oriented really weird in HitFilm but... that it also has to do with the fact that after working on this for a few hours... I realized that Voodoo does not give you the option to adjust frame rates. Could this be the issue? You're damned straight. :(( I'll try and find some time later on to figure out what frame rate Voodoo is using. This should help to smooth things over. :D
    Oh... I also learned that Voodoo does have a user tracking feature option. :)) I haven't used it yet but will do some experimenting.
    And before I forget... I also tried exporting the camera data directly out of Blender using a script that Messen pointed out to me. The script exports out to AE .ma and Maya .ma which is cool because I tried importing both files into HitFilm.
    They import just fine but the moment they I try to place footage in the camera data comp or attempt to change the canvas to perspective view... HitFilm crashes like a coke head on an all night bender. :huh:
    So... I'm a little burned out from working on this right now but I'll experiment some more later in the day. :D
  • HybridHalo,
    'Full workflow including the 3D application part'.....
    For CG integration in Hitfilm, i think will benifit most Hitfilm Users, it would also open up a whole new world of effects some/most users hav'nt tapped into.
    It would also be interesting if you can help identify the known problem where a user has to use the Z-up system to link up to their 3D app which is causing an orientation problem in Hitfilm.
    I look forward to this myself
    :D
  • Cool, thanks guys. Now, time for me to go learn PFHoe Pro!

  • So I messed around with 3 seconds worth of Voodoo tracking data last night for a few hours and it seems that I was correct about the Z and Y. :dry:
    The data imports really awkward into HitFilm. The camera, camera shapes and tracking markers can all be moved around Independently of each other. I parented everything to the camera and rotated it 180 degrees so that everything would be oriented properly "Y up". The weird thing that happened is, the tracking points were no longer on what should have been the location for the floor plane, instead they were up in the air... almost out of frame.
    I added a plane and parented it's position to one of the tracking markers just to verify. It ended way up in the air as I already stated. To fix this I simply moved the plane down on the Y axis to where it should be. This worked but as I scrolled through the footage... I'll be damned if the plane didn't jump around a little bit. :huh:
    I checked the camera data and footage in Blender which obviously fit perfectly. :D

    I'm thinking that it's not just an issue of the camera data being oriented really weird in HitFilm but... that it also has to do with the fact that after working on this for a few hours... I realized that Voodoo does not give you the option to adjust frame rates. Could this be the issue? You're damned straight. :(( I'll try and find some time later on to figure out what frame rate Voodoo is using. This should help to smooth things over. :D
    Oh... I also learned that Voodoo does have a user tracking feature option. :)) I haven't used it yet but will do some experimenting.
    And before I forget... I also tried exporting the camera data directly out of Blender using a script that Messen pointed out to me. The script exports out to AE .ma and Maya .ma which is cool because I tried importing both files into HitFilm.
    They import just fine but the moment they I try to place footage in the camera data comp or attempt to change the canvas to perspective view... HitFilm crashes like a coke head on an all night bender. :huh:
    So... I'm a little burned out from working on this right now but I'll experiment some more later in the day. :D

    Voodoo is exporting its data at 25 fps (PAL). This thread
    http://community.hitfilm.com/index.php?/topic/535-motion-tracking-and-framerate-issues/
    has a great tip about editing the .ma file to get the correct frame rate.
  • Thanks rtrowbridge,
    Yeah I figured that Voodoo's camera data was at 25 fps because that's what it imports as into Blender. Thanks for that link. :D I tried it but the camera still jumps around. :(
    The only other work around that I could think of is to render the footage as an image sequence at 25 fps then import that into Voodoo and track it. Haven't tried it yet though.
    I've got a bunch of stuff to do right now so I'll try it sometime tomorrow and post my findings.
  • edited August 2011
    I use also Blender. Now I'm not just talking about Blender 3D abilities,Blender can also be used for camera Tracking and for compositing 3D object into a scene. Blender Camera tracking has almost the same abilities as many comercial program.
    check it out:
    http://graphicall.org/271
  • Hey there HitFilmer154432!
    I think Blender's camera tracker looks like it already has all the tutorials it needs! I would prefer to keep the tutorial to wide use, dedicated camera trackers. Otherwise I'll be here all day!
    At current, I'm going to focus on PFHoe Pro and provided I can figure it out to a degree that I'm happy with - Voodoo. Most of the other trackers (PFTrack, Syntheyes) are covered pretty well online as they're often implemented in studios. If it makes sense to include a tip on getting their data into Hitfilm, I'll make sure to mention it.
    Cheers!
  • Can't wait for your tutorials Hybrid. :)
  • Obviously a fistful of Users are desperately waiting for Tutorial about PFHoe... me included - i got the PRO-Version and it does not work at all for me. :-(
  • I was planning on spending a fair amount of time putting together a decent/polished set of tutorials. The impression I'm getting is that something rough/simple first would be useful to get people going, with fuller tutorials following later.
    Is that reasonable?
  • edited August 2011
    I just bought PFhoe Pro some days ago. Still got some issues that makes me a headache. Got 2 tracking tests videos online now and it seems to work. But my biggest problem is "understanding the basics" behind tracking. Watching the PFhoe tutorials was ok, but they were only clearing the point how to use the software. All useful information to the "left & right" showing something behind the scenes were missing unfortunatelly.
    Yes - some tutorials would be a very big help indeed.
  • Nuwanda,
    Take a look at the following video called "How To Place Tracking Markers", it covers much of the important 'foundations' with ref to Matchmoving itself as a process. Keep watching though as the video does'nt only discuss placing markers. ;)
    http://www.hollywoodcamerawork.us/vfx_sampleclips.html
    Hope it helps with the basics
    :D
  • I purchased a Syntheyes Licence just recently.. so i use that of course.. or started using it.
    @Tutorials: What would make sense in my opinion is a tutorial about the "interworking" between Applications (Tracker, 3D Software, 3DCompositor), the Problems that could happen, and WHY they happen... what is the root of that problem, and how could it be fixed. I´m not that deep into that topic, but i bet there are some usual problems that occur often, and every experienced User know how to fix.. i for example experienced it with different Tracker Softwares that in the Tracker everything looks fine and stable, but loaded into another Program the track is way to short (5 frames instead of 400), or doesn´t match at all with the movement of the clip (too fast or slightly off etc..) and so on. If these problems would be explained, it would help a lot of people, no matter which Tracker they use.
  • edited August 2011
    @metalfish: Full ack !
    @pscamm: Many thanks for the link - it helps a lot indeed !
  • A problem with PFHoe is that it is so simple, that there's very little you can do to overcome problems with the tracking that you would usually do with other pieces of software. I've got to say, I'm a little enraged by its over-simplification as there are some fundamental features missing that guarantee to improve the quality of your tracking.
    Syntheyes however, is a bloody great piece of tracking software. I could teach you a lot more about the basics of tracking using a piece of kit like that. Though as things go - PFHoe is very heavily reliant on the footage you give it being ideal to track.
  • edited August 2011
    Then how come the HitFilm video showcase on 3d tracking looked so perfect !
    It was shaking , but the track looks perfect , and they used PFHOE for the tracking!
    maybe because of the day light?
    is it harder to track HD than SD?
    I tried with many clips/ remove/edited the red dot / bad point to get a better track data.

    Thanks for the Tips, HybridHalo/metalfish
  • Which video are you referring to, tron_808? And are you sure that they used PFHoe for the track?
  • That link isn't working for me; is this the video you are referring to:
    http://youtu.be/o0twIkXPAq4
    If so, the track was indeed done in PFHoe. Though I wasn't directly involved. Perhaps Josh can add some insight, but I suspect it has a lot to do with the contents of the clip. It is well-lit, with lots of geometric shapes and hard lines, which makes tracking easier. Add some moving objects into the shot, or some foliage and a slight breeze, and everything is going to get a lot trickier.
  • edited August 2011
    A little help to get better footage into PfHoe (or any other matchmover for that matter) @-)
    1. It will always be a lot harder to get a great tracking result with SD footage, theres a lot less fine detail in SD when Compared to HD footage, always go for HD regardless of your final output if your camera can do it.
    2. Grain and motion blur are some of your biggest enemies for good tracking results, unless you have ideal lighting conditions like the footage Axel shows in the video, get your camera off Auto and into manual.
    3. Aperture: Get it as small as you can get away with for what you are filming & the lighting conditions, this will get as much of your scene in focus as possible from forground all the way to background aiding the tracking process, heavily blurred backgrounds are hard to impossible to track reliably although it looks great in your final film. Blur the background in Hitfilm if thats the look your after but be kind to your tracking software. :huh:
    4. Shutter speed: Get this cranked up from the normal setting to avoid motion blur when the camera is moving in any other way appart from semi-smooth. The 'camera motion blur' effect can easily be added by Hitfilm later in post. :D
    5. Sometimes you can get much better tracking results by upping the contrast of your clip (careful of grain/noise though, slight bluring the clip will help this issue if it happens), or, make a copy of your footage as a Green, Red, Blue or Luma channel only and track that instead of you origonal footage.
    6. All tracking software relies on Parallax, if you aint got any or aint got enough in the scene, matchmoving may fail.
    7. As HybridHalo pointed out - 'Rolling shutters' most commonly used in our modern CMOS based recording devices will virtually destroy the geometry of the plate when using left/right panning motion - This can completely fail a matchmove before you even start, although, Syntheyes does have an internal script for dealing with rolling shutter issues i doubt PfHoe will do this.
    8. Good tracking results can only be achieved if your trackers are tracking completely static objects. If you see trackers on any of the following things then delete them: Grass, plants, tree's, folliage, animals, human beings, moving vehicles, reflections, glints and highlights etc.
    9. Be very cautious of repeating patterns like parallel fense panels, mossaic tiles, wallpaper patterns - Trackers like jumping from one repeating pattern to another across a plate as you clip progresses.
    Hope this is helpful to someone
    :D
  • Might be worth adding that any rolling shutter is liable to mess up your tracking, so whilst higher resolution tends to be favoured - 720P at double the frame-rate will have less rolling shutter and as a result track more accurately.
  • Edit : So I've been fiddling around a fair bit now and I have an idea as to which stages of the tracking process might be tripping people up and resulting in bad tracking data/difficult to use data. My plan is to have an "quick tips" up within a week or two, then to follow on with a project length tutorial.
    Cheers!

  • A problem with PFHoe is that it is so simple, that there's very little you can do to overcome problems with the tracking that you would usually do with other pieces of software. I've got to say, I'm a little enraged by its over-simplification as there are some fundamental features missing that guarantee to improve the quality of your tracking.
    Syntheyes however, is a bloody great piece of tracking software. I could teach you a lot more about the basics of tracking using a piece of kit like that. Though as things go - PFHoe is very heavily reliant on the footage you give it being ideal to track.

    btw, that´s why i choosed (32bit)syntheyes instead of pfhoe. Its not that easy to use andmore expensive, but its worth every penny, and it can do a lot more (at least when you found out how to use it :D).
    I like pfhoe though, and with that hitfilm discount its even better...
    Really looking forward your tutorial work HybridHalo...

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