Puzzle PIeces, asking about workflow

Hi, just trying to brush up on some things as i always forget when i have to jump back into mocha ae.

So i’m doing a few scenes with puzzle pieces, and i’m going to track stuff into them that will be like partial videos playing back. As you can see from the image, i have a track, which is rock solid. I duplicated that layer for an align to surface track as well, i forget if i’ll need that or not. I have a finger hold out, and i have the actual shape tracked. All of this work in mocha seems like it’s all good.

Now my first thought was i was would make a solid, same size as comp, and precomp it, yes? Then i would Create Tracking Data from my Aligned Surface Layer. That’s when this happens. And this happens all the time, and i forget what the reason is for why it completely jumps away from where you think it’s going. The other thing is that i can’t figure out what the collapse transformation block should be set to, when it’s off, the solid contained shows up, when it’s checked, it seems to disappear.

After I get the surface correct, I SHOULD just be able to drop what i want in the video comp and then apply my mocha puzzle shape mask to it, correct?

Is the tracking data always better off applied to a null? I feel like i’ve done that before and it’s still jumped away.

Sorry to be thick, I just always feel like i’m running into a new thing that i thought i was confident with every time i have to do it.

Also if there are any other approaches you all would take, i’m down to here them please!

As long as your surface tool is aligned in the right place, it should just work. Collapse transform should be off, you really only need that when the insert is oversized, like with MegaPlates.

Where are you aligning your surface tool? What frame? AND have you precomped your footage on the timeline before you tracked it? Looks like no, so that might be the issue. AE Really like to compartmentalize data if you’re going to have things start on different frames.

Hello Mary, as always, you are the queen. So let me ask something I need a little elaboration, this is the first that I have ever heard that you should be pre comping your footage before tracking. Are you tracking on the pre-comp or are you tracking on the footage? I did not pre-compose before tracking as I have never done that before.

As far as the align surface copy paste, I was doing it from the first frame.

So for this process, are you suggesting that I should:
Pre-comp my plate
Track the comp in mocha
And when I go to bring that tracking data in, what should I apply at to? A pre-comp solid? And as far as the mask, I could just apply that to any other layer as well because I will likely be reusing it?

Alright, so i just tried Pre-Comp footage first, track pre-comp, align to surface, and applying the track data to the precomped grey solid. Still get this result:

Dave, to reiterate what Mary asked, what frame are you aligning the surface on? I can see your track points in the main AE window but they are offset from the surface, so it’s difficult to see what’s happening there.
Are you able to share the project with one of us?

I’m only seeing roto data and not the surface itself in the images, so it’s hard to see what’s going on specifically.

If the aim is to replace what is on the puzzle piece, applying the corner pin result to a pre-comp is best, because it means you can edit what’s inside the precomp and have it automatically update.

  • Is there much movement in the piece itself?
  • Are you using AdjustTrack, or is it a straight track without any addtional modifications?

Hi Martin. I’ve also enjoyed many of your tutorials, so thanks ahead.

So i think i replied to the original question of what frame am i aligning the surface on, but maybe incorrectly. I guess it was whatever frame i did the initial shape on, which wasn’t the first frame, but i thought that if i just linked it to the track and pasted the data back in AE from the start, it would paste it from where mocha started it as well…I’ve restarted many times at this point so i don’t think i could give an accurate answer. I just always knew to paste it from wherever your mocha data is starting from, which would be the very first frame in the AE project.

If the aim is to replace what is on the puzzle piece, applying the corner pin result to a pre-comp is best, because it means you can edit what’s inside the precomp and have it automatically update.

Ok, That’s what i thought, so i was correct on that.

  • Is there much movement in the piece itself?

Other than the initial lift up, it’s quite still. The track itself in mocha is rock soild.

  • Are you using AdjustTrack, or is it a straight track without any addtional modifications?

Straight track, very simple. I have three other shots involving the puzzle piece gag, they may be of varying difficulties, but i tried to shoot it with ease of tracking in mind.

The other piece of info i think i uncovered, this is a 4k clip, and i think i was originally tracking in 4k, and even when i pre-comped it i forgot to “move all attribute”, so i was still getting a scaling problem

I can share this project, yes. Honestly, I would pay for like an hour of consult time to try to get the system/process going for these so i can knock it out quickly. I feel like every time i make a discovery, something else pushes me away. Will upload after restart.

I had to turn the red file into a proxy, and it is trimmed, so i hope that’s not compromising the instructions. I also deleted all previous tracks. The mocha project included is a track of the pre-comp, and a puzzle shape bezier.

This will end up something like this, which i’m sure is obvious.

Thanks, this helps.

So when you apply the corner pin and scrub to the frame where it is aligned, does the precomped solid fill the screen?

For example, here is my window when the corner pin is on the frame I aligned the surface:

And here it is at the starting frame, moving with the track:

I’ll check this first thing in the AM, but this makes a whole lot of sense. I think I had a fundamental misunderstanding. I always thought that you were supposed to copy and paste all mocha data from the beginning of the layer, as I thought mocha communicated that way. So you’re saying that I have to go to the frame that I aligned in mocha in my AfterAffects project and then paste the corner pin data from there? Even if I have a corner pin data from frame one?

To be clear, if you’re using the “Apply export” option, the data always pastes to the beginning of the comp, regardless of where your playhead is.

Precomps aren’t always necessary, but since After Effects is a bit fiddly with frame offsets in plugins it’s easier in the long run to prep this way so you’re not backtracking a lot.

I’ll record a brief outline on how I’d approach the shot just in case you’re missing anything.

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Hi Dave,

If ever you have footage with heads that go off the timeline, you should precomp them in AE and move all attributes into the new composition AND check the checkbox for trimming the comp to the work area. This makes zero room for error and essentially turns the shot into a singled out clip. It can prevent a lot of frustration, and it has to do with how AE handles comps and clips and how tracking data applies to layers that aren’t exactly the same as the footage you are tracking.

I second everything Martin is saying but it looks like he’s got it working for you.

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Thanks again for your help mary and martin. Should I be doing this whole thing at 4k and then just bump it down by scaling in premiere? I feel like the 4k-1080 business might be causing some issues, and if i’m not mistaken, isn’t a higher res better for tracking anyway?


So good news, the surface is sticking now

But when i apply the mask to the solid comp, pasting it (from first frame, one layer to another) is giving me this.

But at frame 49 (where i aligned the surface) the mask is right on. Does this mean my track is actually not right?

I’m getting so close!! You guys are great!

Interesting, I wonder if there was a proxy issue.

@maryp @martinb You guys are so great. I got it, but i need to do a recap to see if this is how i should approach these next three shots. Here is the shot in context (the shape on the puzzle is a little ratty i know, i just needed to get this out) Frame.io

Here is a screen of the setup now. I figured out what was happening with the mask shooting off, and i feel like such a dunce. I was applying the mask (2d info from the footage) onto the corner pinned layer, which is why it was of course lining up when it was aligned, but no other times. The Top Pink Alpha matte is just a 2d solid with the mask pasted on, and it travels with the footage, as it’s supposed to, and cuts out the video layer. The video layer is just a PreComp with the track data applied. I did NOT use align surface, just a surface patch that covered the puzzle piece.

Is there a better way to do this?
Do I need align surface for this?

I’m going to be pre-comping all footage first, and then it should all follow this same method, correct?

Thank you thank you again.

The correct way is the way that works for you. :slight_smile: if you don’t need align surface for these shots, then don’t use it.

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This masking example looks like you’re applying the mask to the corner pinned layer directly.

When you apply an AE mask to a layer with a corner pin effect in After Effects, the corner pin applies to the masked area, not the original area, which can throw it out because the area is now smaller than it was.

In general, it’s better to mask over the top of the pinned layer (with a holdout matte layer or an alpha matte layer) because then you have control of the mask and the track separately.

In the second example you posted where it was working,you approached it with the alpha matte, which is why it is moving correctly.

@maryp @martinb
This is a near finished version of what you guys were so graciously able to help me with. Thanks so much, after dusting off my mocha chops it reminded me how much i love this program and i’m almost finished the essentials course that you all put up and it’s a phenomenal resource. Thanks!


We are really happy you are learning and enjoying the tools!