Manual Track and/or Adjust track breaks surface alignment

It’s not really a new problem, But ever version I hope this issue gets better, and this time around it seems to have gotten worse.
The problem:
Tracking a hand held device and the talent turns the device past 90 degrees.
Track works OK up to about the last 2-5 frames before the screen disappears.
No problem switch to manual track and fix the first and second frame before the final.
Then shit hits the fan on the last frame. Just about lined up and POOF… the surface flies off. Quick, undo. nope it’s f’d up through the whole shot.

Ok. I’ll just fix it, delete the manual tracked frames and try stopping tracking before the last couple.
Used to be able to use the Adjust track to get those last few, but that breaks things now, too.
ESPECIALLY if you haven’t actually tracked the final frames first.

This is the problem the way I see it, in a nutshell:
There are 3 things happening. 1. the shape and it’s key frames. 2. the surface alignment. 3. the ACTUAL tracking data.
I REALLY need to be able to easily manually transform the actual tracking data without affecting the the other two.
Currently I have to bail using mocha and use other software to make this work.

I strongly recommend looking at Syntheye’s 3d manipulation tools for placing objects for the “Geo Track” and even the manipulator for it’s Planar Tracker.
Unlike Mocha, Syntheyes shows the user the assumed FOV. Alt Click-Dragging a corner keeps the planar surface updates plausable, based on the assumed FOV by weighted slipping of the other corners.
I spent several hours researching Syntheyes today, and I’m thinking it’s going to be a direct competitor for this kind of stuff.

More and more of the footage I get is untrackable at all. I’m having to rely more and more on just manually lining stuff up.
I either need to find a tool that makes this process fast, or I need to change careers.

Finally. I’ve been using Mocha, Motor, and Mokey since 2002, maybe I’m missing something with dealing with tracks that go past 90 degrees. I’m open to seeing how other people deal with it.
(that still doesn’t help with all the rest of the untrackable crap I get these days)


Mocha works so good, directors no longer think they have to follow basic VFX guide lines.
I used to get shots with 5,000 red tracking markers for a locked camera.
Now I get none for a huge DOF and a Crash Pan over poorly lit green screens.
People juggling iPhones with no trackers and heavy moblur
don’t get me started on the new trend of using $5 zoom lenses with crazy distortion, hand held, zooming, with different distortion levels across the zoom range.

It all directly correlates with Mocha become the industry standard for tracking.


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Manual track really needs a manual keyframe before you start animating it by hand, so what I tend to do (and this is admittedly fussy and we have it on our list) is that I go to the last tracked keyframe and manually make a keyframe by moving the surface minutely and moving it back, then I animate and I don’t get that offset. Clearly, not ideal, but it’s a thing that saves me headaches during manual track.

Adjust track on top of manual track can get tricky, but you definitely need to finish manual tracking before you get ot the adjust track tab.

We can look into those tools. Thank you for the suggestion.

And… I think we are sorry about the tracking standards? Sortof? :wink: Sounds like more VFX sups need to be on set to me… :smiley:

Let me know if that manual track keyframing helps.


Seems like the surface and adjust track points separate frequently in 2020.
Not sure what’s happening with that.

The first couple minutes of this video he drags a cylinder and I believe uses the placement tools to manipulate, not only the geo, but the FOV of the camera, too.

I think a basic 3d rotate with the pivot based on a chosen corner point, a constrained to an edge, or the center of the surface. Maybe that is for the manual track. And then once the basic transforms of the surface are laid out, you could do fine tuning of the exact corners with the adjust track.

We have warping and offsets in the insert tab, but they could be more robust for sure. We can look at this when we look at the insert module, @martinb.

I have to deliver tracks to my clients in Nuke. Does the Insert warping and offset tools affect the track?


That highlight moves across the screen and he wipes the tracking area with his thumb several times throughout the 40 frame shot. Pretty much only tracked about 15 total frames and manually matchmoved the rest.
Pretty standard type of work flow for about the last year. It’s getting old. Could use some really robust manual matchmove tools.
…and some way to capture the higher freq vibrations and jitters I simply can’t manually put in manually.

They have to be rendered out or rendered inside of Nuke as a node, so it won’t help you much if you have to export to nuke with corner pins.

Oh boy, look at that reflection. That’s fun.

Can you use translation only on the wrist maybe to get those movements closer before you jump in with manual tracking or adjust tracking?

We have our wish list for manual tracking, so we get it.

and then there was this… zooming lens with heavy distortion, all of the lights scroll, smoke pushes tracks off, and the BG is completely blocked by the CU players every 5-10 frames.
There was 1000 frames of this footage.

It’s amazing how no one cares about the final track enough to deal with it on set, but then kick it back several dozen times in post cuz it’s not good enough.

Man, someone really needs to be checking that on set. Sorry. There’s very little to grab there. You could try upping the contrast on something like that and maybe making a matte for the smoke with a garbage key. Still, you’d definitely be making corrections.

That one was last year.

Of course they didn’t use the handles but kicked shots back when the handles weren’t solid.

It’s been a pretty frustrating year.
Pretty sure VFX sups are just cardboard cutout people with cartoon bubbles that say “Perfect” or “We can track that” and the evergreen standby “We’ll fix that in post”. Periodically a PA will swap out the text for a different phrase, just to make it all legit.

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I know some incredible sups, maybe we should introduce them? :wink:

But yes, as a total aside, I don’t know if everyone knows how much time and money they could save if they had someone keeping a real eye on set for “non-vfx-heavy” films. Everything has VFX now. Even movies about real people as you linked.

Hang in there, and in the meantime we will check out what we can do on our end to help folks like you get out of the office on occasion.