Price: 5995 . 2195
Pros: Auto-tracking and full multi-tracking facility. Can perform tracking of moving object with moving cameras.
Cons: A bit buggy under OS X and very expensive. Can be difficult to get to grips with at first.
Designed for high-end post-production work, MatchMover Pro is Realviz’s professional 3D camera-tracking system. It’s a robust and generally well-designed package, and it offers both automatic and full user control of the tracking process.
Match-moving is the process by which 3D camera data can be extracted from nothing more than film or video footage. The software analyzes each frame in the sequence, tracking easily recognizable features as they move frame-to-frame. This is done first in 2D, just as you would in a motion-graphics program to perform image stabilization, or for compositing a poster onto a building in a hand-held shot.
Once the 2D information has been recorded, a match-moving program performs an additional calculation by analyzing the relative motions of the tracked features, and through the phenomenon of parallax calculates the position the camera must have been in. As you can imagine, this is no mean feat, and once the 3D extraction is complete the camera data can be exported to a 3D program and used to render 3D elements that are perfectly matched to the original footage.
The problem is that every shot is different so you need a decent toolset that can tackle a wide variety of situations. MatchMover Pro offers a good set of tools for manually placing tracking points and fine-tuning the resulting data. There is a fully automatic system built-in as well. By choosing the Automatic Tracking command, the loaded footage is automatically scanned for features and tracked in 2D.
Once the software has calculated the appropriate points, exporting 3D data is quite literally a push-button process. You just have to wait a while (depending on the length of the sequence and how complex the motion is) before your 3D camera data is ready for use. For simple camera pans or still handheld shots this works quite well, plus it automatically adds new tracking points as they come into shot, which saves a lot of time. When you choose Automatic Tracking in MatchMover you get a small panel with just a few options.
You can choose to perform just the 2D tracking or the 3D calibration as well, plus you can decide to switch from the default (and faster) greyscale tracking, which utilizes only the average brightness of the pixels, to colour tracking which tracks the three RGB channels using a default weighting scheme. The latter option is slower but more accurate and can be useful when a sequence has low contrast.
On the right track
Autotracking is acceptable in some circumstances, but MatchMover can do a lot more. Using MatchMover Pro’s built-in masks, you can isolate certain elements in the footage and track them separately. This allows you to track a scene that has a moving rigid object (such as a moving vehicle), and even track both the moving background and a moving object – footage taken from a car following another car, for example. By creating moving mattes around the rigid object, you prevent it from interfering with the background calculation and vice versa.
MatchMover allows you to perform motion capture too. Using footage of a person filmed from different angles simultaneously, MatchMover can be used to extract the motion of the person in 3D. This can be done for facial motion capture too.
RealViz has improved the interface of MatchMover Pro in version 3. There is a dual-mode menu at the top that switches between a simple layout and a myriad of panels. It’s well-designed and laid out, but if you want to make changes to the interface it’s now possible to customize it. Other improvements include better OpenGL support including transparency, smooth shading, and backface culling.
This is particularly useful when importing complex models to aid in scenes that don’t have much parallax information. RealViz claims the calibration has been improved in version 3, but it’s not a noticeable leap. There doesn’t seem to be any speed improvements on previous versions either.
MatchMover Pro is great to use, and features just about everything a high-end motion-tracking system should. There are some glitches though – notably a little instability running under OS X. There was also a bug that caused the interface to collapse to an unusable state when changing back from full-screen mode to the previous layout, forcing you to quit and restart the program. It was possible to lose the 3D scene entirely when viewing a 3D window. None of the view commands such as Reset Zoom, Fit to Selection or Fit to Viewport would rectify the situation, either.
MatchMover Pro 3 is an expensive piece of software, so it’s reserved for large post-production facilities and those that can afford to pay the hefty price tag. Bugs aside, MatchMover is a great package but has some stiff competition from auto-trackers such as Boujou and PFTrack from newcomers The Pixel Farm. However, MatchMover is an established product and brand, and has the solid workflow and toolset that will satisfy video professionals.