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  1. 3D & Motion Graphics
  2. 3D Studio Max

Understanding 3D Camera Tracking: Part 4



1. Project Setting

Step 1

Open After Effects.

Open After EffectsOpen After EffectsOpen After Effects
Open After Effects

Step 2

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.

Composition  New Composition Composition  New Composition Composition  New Composition
Composition > New Composition 

Step 3

I've 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, press the Ctrl-I keys. With the first image of the image sequence selected, turn on JPEG Sequence option. Click on Open.

File  Import  FileFile  Import  FileFile  Import  File
File > Import > File

Step 4

With the image sequence selected, drag and drop it inside the composition. You'll see the footage in the comp view.


2. Camera Tracking in After Effects

Step 1

With the image sequence layer selected, go to Animation > Track Camera.

Animation  Track CameraAnimation  Track CameraAnimation  Track Camera
Animation > Track Camera

Step 2

The 3D camera tracker system starts analysing the footage. It analyses the footage in two steps, hence it might take some time to complete.

Analyzing the footageAnalyzing the footageAnalyzing the footage
Analyzing the footage

Step 3

After a couple of seconds, the analyse process ends. Now you can see several track points in the scene.

Analyzing completedAnalyzing completedAnalyzing completed
Analyzing completed

Step 4

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.

Track pointsTrack pointsTrack points
Track points

Step 5

With the indicated points selected, secondary-click the mouse and select Create Null and Camera.

Create Null and CameraCreate Null and CameraCreate Null and Camera
Create Null and Camera

Step 6

You'll 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.

Null layer and 3D cameraNull layer and 3D cameraNull layer and 3D camera
Null layer and 3D camera

3. Exporting Camera Data to 3ds Max

Step 1

AE3D is a great script to export the camera data from After Effects to 3ds Max. The script has been supplied with the tutorial. Copy the script and paste it in the Script folder of After Effects.


Step 2

Restart After Effects. Open the same composition again. With the null object and 3d camera layers selected, go to File > Script > AE3D_Export.jsx.

File  Script  AE3D_ExportjsxFile  Script  AE3D_ExportjsxFile  Script  AE3D_Exportjsx
File > Script > AE3D_Export.jsx

Step 3

In the AE3D window, select the 3ds Max option, set the file name to camera tracker.ms and then click on Export. It saves the 3ds Max script file on the desktop.

camera trackermscamera trackermscamera trackerms
camera tracker.ms

4. Creating Scene in 3ds Max

Step 1

Open 3ds Max.

Open 3ds MaxOpen 3ds MaxOpen 3ds Max
Open 3ds Max

Step 2

Go to MAXScript > Run Script.

MAXScript  Run ScriptMAXScript  Run ScriptMAXScript  Run Script
MAXScript > Run Script

Step 3

Select the camera track.ms script which was exported from After Effects. Click on Open.

camera trackmscamera trackmscamera trackms
camera track.ms

Step 4

You get a 3d camera and one dummy in the scene. In the perspective view, press C key for the camera view.

Camera viewCamera viewCamera view
Camera view

Step 5

Right now the camera is upside down. You need to correct the coordinate of camera. With the camera and dummy selected, group them together.

Group the camera and dummyGroup the camera and dummyGroup the camera and dummy
Group the camera and dummy

Step 6

After grouping, jump in the left viewport. Select the Rotate tool and rotate it to the right side. Your goal should be to put the dummy on the grid line.

Rotate toolRotate toolRotate tool
Rotate tool

Step 7

Jump in the camera view. Press Alt-B keys to open the Viewport Configuration window. Turn on Use Files and Animate Background options. Click on Files.

Viewport ConfigurationViewport ConfigurationViewport Configuration
Viewport Configuration

Step 8

Select the image, turn on Sequence option and click on Open.

Sequence optionSequence optionSequence option
Sequence option

Step 9

Turn on the Show Safe Frame option in the camera view. Alternatively, press the Shift-F keys.

Show Safe FrameShow Safe FrameShow Safe Frame

Step 10

You can create several dummy objects in the scene to check the camera match with the live footage.

Create dummy objectsCreate dummy objectsCreate dummy objects
Create dummy objects

Step 11

Press F10 to open Render Setup window. You can perform test render of the desired range. Once you are satisfied with the camera match and tracking, you can move ahead with the main 3D object.

Render Setup windowRender Setup windowRender Setup window
Render Setup window


In the next part of the tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a crater in 3ds Max using both procedural and non-procedural method and then composite the rendered footage in After Effects to get the final result.

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