By Neil Bennett | on November 22, 2007
Company: Imagineer Systems
Pros: Excellent automatic tracking. Huge number of manual tools. Inexpensive.
Cons: Fiddly workflow with AE. 2D only.
Mocha-AE offers high-end motion-tracking tools to users who don’t require – or can’t afford – the £1,500 full version.
Mocha is based around a 2.5D tracking system. It can output data to all of the major compositing systems. Mocha-AE offers the same toolset, but can output to After Effects only.
The workflow within Mocha-AE is relatively simple considering this is a full application with a large toolset. Users import footage, draw on an area to track using splines and let the software do its thing.
We were very impressed with Mocha-AE’s automatic tracking – especially as it’s not phased by parts of the tracked area disappearing off screen or behind other objects. Changing lighting can cause problem with automatic tracking, but these can excluded using a garbage matte.
Fine tuning the track can be achieved manually by keyframing points, with a full curve editor offering the finest level of control.
You can use the collected data to stabilize a shot, or apply a surface to match an element to the scene (as with the ‘billboard’ in the screen below). To avoid ‘drift’ – which can often occur if the surface’s corner points aren’t easy to track – you can tie the corners to more obvious elements using Reference Points.
Getting your data to AE requires exporting your track as a text file, recreating the scene in AE and then pasting the file’s contents onto the foreground object. There’s no single-click way to output layers from Mocha-AE to AE – or vice-versa.
Mocha-AE would work so much better as a plug-in, rather than a cut-down version of the full software. It also doesn’t do 3D tracking like The Pixel Farm’s innovative-but-flawed PFHoe. However, if you spend a lot of time tracking in AE, Mocha-AE is an inexpensive workflow boost.