1. Project Setting
Open After Effects.
Go to Composition > New Composition to make a new composition.
Set the Width and Height values to 1280 and 720
respectively. Set the Frame Rate to 25 and Duration to 12
seconds. Click on OK.
I have provided the live action footage, which can be found in the attachment of the tutorial. Go to File > Import > File to import the image sequence. Alternatively, you can press Ctrl-I keys. With the first image of the image sequence selected, turn on JPEG Sequence option. Click on Open.
With the image sequence selected, drag and drop it inside the composition. You can see the footage in the comp view.
2. Camera Tracking in After Effects
With the image sequence layer selected, go to Animation > Track
The 3D camera tracker system starts analysing the footage. It analyses the
footage in two steps, hence it might take some time to complete.
After a couple of seconds, the analyse process ends. Now you can see
several track points in the scene.
These track points would help to generate the dummy 3D plane/null and the camera. You need to select several points as shown in the following image.
With the indicated points selected, secondary-click the mouse and
select Create Null and Camera.
You get a Null layer and 3D camera in the timeline. This Null layer is the placeholder and sticks with the footage and follows the camera.
3. Creating Object in Element 3D
I hope you all are aware with Video Co-pilot's Element 3D. This is a robust plug-in of After Effects which lets you insert 3D models in After Effects composition.
I would urge to go to the link to know more about it. https://www.videocopilot.net/products/element2/
To start with Element 3D, go to Layer > New > Solid.
It creates a black solid layer. The Element 3D object will be applied to
Go to Effect > Video Copilot > Element.
Click on Scene Setup to open the Element 3D interface.
There are several default 3d objects in Element's directory, so you can choose any one of them. I have imported the truck wheel mesh in the view port. Click on OK.
The truck wheel object has come into the scene but you need to align it according to the camera.
With the element layer selected, go to Element effect and under Group
1 roll-out menu, click on Create button. It creates Group 1 Null
Copy the Position value of Track Null 1 layer and paste the
same in the Group 1 Null layer.
You need to tweak the X Rotation value a bit to match the
orientation of the truck wheel.
4. Applying Lights and Shadow
Once again go to Element 3D Scene Setup and create a plane beneath the
truck wheel in the view port.
Apply Matte Shadow material to the plane. Click on OK button.
Go to Layer > New > Light.
Create a Spot Light with Shadow option enabled.
With the element layer selected, go to Element effect and under Render
Settings roll-out menu, enable Shadow and turn the Shadow Mode
to Ray-Traced. You will immediately see the shadow in the view port.
Go to Spot Light 1 layer and lower the values of Shadow Darkness
and Shadow Diffusion parameters to soften the shadow darkness and blur
the shadow to match it with the rest of the scene.
Hit the Play button and you will see the truck wheel has merged with
the live action scene perfectly.
Tracking with Element 3D is a great fun. It is not only easy but it also minimises the dependency on 3D animation software. I will be writing some more interesting tutorials on 3D tracking in this series.