Praxismodul IV

Before we start

Become a member of our Rocket Chat group by clicking HERE.

Get the class material

You find the main file for this class in your Base Folder in
Class-Files →

Please download the zip-file and unzip and keep it intact when working on your file, as all the Links inside it are in the same Folder inside (Footage).

Home Assignment

For handing in your Files please create a folder with your name in the base Folder Home-Assignments and put all your files into it.

Please upload 4 Videos. You can either use the provided videos or something you filmed yourself (can be a phone video too).

1st video: should show some single point-tracking with a graphic element that you created attached to it.
2nd video: some form of screen, image frame, or other rectangular surface that you track with mocha and attach a graphic element to it.
3rd video: a 3D tracked file with graphic element(s) attached.
4th video: an animation of 2D elements from Photoshop. Either like the cards, box or can

See “Know How” sections for tips on rendering and compressing Videos.

After you’re finished please write me an email so I can grade you.


PART I – Motion Tracking

Motion tracking is the process of following the movement of an object or recreating the motion of a camera with the help of software and to use this tracked movement and use it for masks, attached objects, retouched elements etc.

You can define a point or area on one point in time and the software then tries to follow this when your footage progresses.

Usages of Tracking

Amongst others you can use tracking data to

  • Stabilize motion by utilizing tracking data.
  • Add 2D elements such as text/solids/animations to a composition.
  • Insert 3D objects into 2D footage.
  • Apply effects or color grading techniques.
  • Replace screens on a TV, Computer, or mobile device. 

What and how you can track in AE

There are many ways you can do motion tracking in After Effects, and the method and workflow you follow depend on the nature of your clip, and what you want to track. 

Point tracker

You can track one or multiple reference

  • One-point tracking: Track a single reference pattern (a small area of pixels) to record position data.
  • Two-point tracking: Track two reference patterns in a movie clip and use the relationship between the two tracked points to record position, scale, and rotation data.
  • Four-point tracking or Corner pin track: Track four reference patterns in a movie clip to record position, scale, and rotation data. The four trackers analyze the relationship between four reference patterns, such as the corners of a picture frame or television monitor. 
  • Multiple-point tracking: Track as many reference patterns in a clip as you like. You can manually add trackers within the Analyze Motion and Stabilize behaviors. When you apply a Track Points behavior from the Shape behaviors subcategory to a shape or mask, a tracker is automatically assigned to each shape control point.

For detailed instructions on using the point tracker, see Tips for using the point tracker.

Mask tracker

Use the mask tracker to draw masks around your object to track only certain objects in your scene. 

For detailed information on the mask tracker, see Mask Tracking.

Face tracker

Simple mask tracking lets you quickly apply effects only to a face, such as selective color correction or blurring a person’s face, and more.

However, with Face Tracking, you can track specific parts of the face such as pupils, mouth, and nose, allowing you to isolate and work on these facial features with greater detail. For example, change colors of the eyes or exaggerate mouth movements without frame-by-frame adjustments.

For detailed instructions on using the face tracker, see Face Tracking.

3D Camera tracker

Use the 3D camera tracker effect to analyze video sequences to extract camera motion and 3D scene data. You can then correctly composite 3D elements over your 2D footage.

For detailed instructions on using the 3D camera tracker, see Tracking 3D camera movement.

Point Tracking

The Point Tracker is the most basic and the oldest tracker within After Effects, but it has some big advantages — one of which is allowing you to choose which features to track in a scene. It’s also the most flexible and versatile tracker in AE. Here’s how to work with it.

Some types of Point Tracking

Single Point tracking

  • Usage: Tracking or Compositing Footage with a Single Point of Focus
  • Pros: Works well for simple tracking
  • Cons: Needs a clear contrast point to be effective, no rotation or scale properties

Two Point tracking

  • Usage: Add simple elements to footage with little to no camera shake.
  • Pros: Tracks rotation and scale, unlike single point.
  • Cons: Doesn’t work as well with shaky footage.

Corner Pin Tracking

  • Usage: Screen Replacement or Sign replacement
  • Pros: Utilizes corner pins to set a box for tracking accuracy.
  • Cons: It’s Kinda Specific, All Points Must Be On-Screen

How to track a single Point

We’ll start with a simple example of following one point in our footage. In this case we’ll try the eye of the puppy. We’ll later attach stuff to it. Here is a preview of the final file.

Let’s start

  • open the Tracker Window
  • Select the footage you want to track and choose Track Motion
  • This will open the footages Layer Panel

The Tracker Window

Motion Source

is the selected layer.

Current Track

tells you which tracker is currently active, because you can have multiple trackings in a single layer.

Track type

For one Point tracking choose Transform.

Position, Rotation, Scale

You can track Position, Rotation and Scale. We’ll only track Position for now as Rotation and Scale need more than one point. We’ll cover them later.


In Options define either Luminance if the
Lightness defines the contrast of the point to track or RGB if the
color is more contrasting. In our case I’ll go for RGB.

I’ll also set the Options to adapt the Feature area after every frame and to stop if After Effects feels unsure if the next frame tracked is still correct.

The Track Point

This info shows you what area of the footage will be tracked and defines how After Effects compares that area to its surrounding during tracking.

Feature Region: The Feature Region defines the element in the layer to be tracked. This should surround a distinct visual element, and it should be clearly identifiable in the duration of the track, even if there are changes in light, background, and angle.

Search Region: The Search Region is the area that After Effects will search to locate the tracked feature. The element you are tracking should always be within this region, but it can be resized to accommodate large movements of your element. Making the Search Region smaller results in faster tracking, but also runs the risk of the tracked feature leaving the search region entirely between frames.

Attach Point: The Attach Point is where the target layer or effect control point will be placed. By default, this is positioned at the center of the Feature Region, but can be moved if needed. 

In this Example:
Try to set the Attach Point to the middle of the eye and make the Feature Region a little bit bigger than the eye and the Search Region should reach till the ear and nose.

Start Analyzing

Go to the beginning of your clip and press the “Analyze Forward” button. After Effects will start analysing frame after frame and you will see the motion tracker points appear.

Something went wrong? If your tracking stops or the Feature Area moves somewhere else see the Know How section for “Trouble Shooting Point Tracker”

Attach Object to Tracking Motion

We’re now able to attach any other Layer to these motion points.

Info: To work further you need to change back from the Layer Panel to the Composition Panel.

Create a Circle

Go to Layer → New → Shape Layer name it “Circle” and then create a white circle with ca. 20px stroke and no fill.


Click the Circle layer and show ist Position property by pressing P.
Click the footage Layer and show all animated keyframes by pressing U.

Attach the circle to the eye by property pick whiping its Position to the either the trackers Feature Center or Attach Point.

Read more about Pick Whipping and Parenting in the Know How Section.

Then adjust the Anchor point (press A) of the Circle Layer and tadaa!!

Videos – Single Point

All the main videos on this Page are also in the Base Folder:
→ Class Videos
So if you have troubles watching them on this site or with your connections, got there and download them.

Single Point Tracking

Attach Elements

Animating Circle, Line and Text

Videos – Two and Four Point

Two Point Tracking

Four Point Tracking – Corner Pin

Videos – Mocha AE

Videos – 3D Camera Tracking

Video for first two exercises can be found in Base Folder:
Class-Videos → 3D-Tracking → production ID_4613369.mp4

Preparing bigger material for exercise

3D Tracking Intro

3D Tracking Food Truck Type

PART II – 3D from 2D

Videos – 3D animation of 2D Elements




coming until the 28th of January. Sorry for the delay 🙂

Trouble Shooting

Errors while Tracking –
manual adjustment

Mocha Troubleshooting

Here’s a quick video of the 6 top things that go wrong when using mocha.

Know How


This is a very big part of animating in After Effects and gives you so so many opportunities to animate easier and quicker.

Here is the expression from class to let things hover and a few others:

Hovering – Expression

x = transform.position[0];
y = Math.sin(time*4)*10+transform.position[1];

Create random numbers

random(minValOrArray, maxValOrArray);
gaussRandom(minValOrArray, maxValOrArray);
seedRandom(seed, timeless = false);

maxValOrArray and minValOrArray means you can randomise either a number or arrays.
random(25, 40); → creates a random number between 25 and 40

Learn more here:

Attach a 2D Null to a 3D Null

Position Expression of 2D Null:

T = thisComp.layer(“3dNullname”);

If you are into After Effects animation you should have a look at Expressions and learn at least the very basics. And you’ll get to know some basic Javascript on the way. Win win!!

If you want to learn a few more Expressions here are a few links as starting points.

Six essential Expressions you should know – School of Motion
Amazing Expressions tutorial – School of Motion
4 Advanced After Effects Expressions Made Easy – Motion Design School

gif from motion design school

Parenting, Rigging

Parenting is the process of setting up multiple layers so that the movement of one layer follows the movement (rotation, scale, anchor points and position) of another layer. In animation it’s also called Rigging.

Parenting whole layers

Use the parent pick whip tool to parent one layer to another.


Click and drag it from layer A to layer B.
Layer A then follows layer B.

Parent single properties

If you for example want only the rotation of layer A to be the exact same value of layer B’s rotation you can do this by dragging the property pick whip

This adds an expression to layer B’s value that tells it layer A’s value.


You can even pick whip one properties value to a completely different property.

F.e. try this with two layers and pick whip one’s rotation to the others x-position.


Also called Slow-In and Slow-Out

In Animation, the term for motion that starts slowly and accelerates is “slow out,” and for motion that starts quickly and decelerates is “slow in.” The terminology also used for these are “ease(ing) out” or “ease(ing) in”.

CAUTION: There’s a potential for confusion in this terminology. If you read a traditional animation book such as Disney’s The Illusion of Life or The Animator’s Survival Kit, they’ll tell you that, when an object starts slow and then picks up speed, it’s called ease-out, as it is “easing out” of its pose (or keyframe). This is also how After Effects treats it. But, in more web based software and programming (CSS animation, Adobe Animate, etc), it’s opposite and this is called ease-in! I’m not sure how this difference came to be, but unfortunately, that’s how it is.

It seems classic animation is more focused on the poses/keyframes as in “easing out of a keyframe” and CSS & co more on the motion as in “easing out of the motion”. At least this is how I remember.

These images from Principles of Animation show what we’ll work with in classic animation lingo.

And this is what the corresponding motion and graphs will look like played in pingpong:

Slow Out
Slow In
Slow Out & Slow In

Filming your own material

Here are a few things to consider:

  • avoid shallow Depth of Field as it makes things very tricky
  • no quick movements
  • avoid zooming in and out
  • avoid to many moving objects in scene
  • no objects passing or in front of insert
  • surrounding should have planes for tracker to use – a hallway, desk, etc.


If you want to create a movie file out of your animation you must render your file. There are several ways to do this and Adobe provides basic explanations on them here. Or watch this tutorial for a more detailed look into the topic.

Render to mov

If you want to render a high quality .mov file, that you’ll compress later (see HandBrake) do the following:

Add your composition to the Render Queue by going to Composition → Add to Render Queue and choose → Render Settings: Best Settings→ Output Module: Lossless.

Render to mp4

If you will use your file for Web and Social Media you’ll need an mp4 and the easiest and quickest way is this:

Add your composition to the Media Encoder by going to Composition → Add to Adobe Media Encoder (Option + Command + M) and choose → Format: H.264 → Preset: Match Source – High bitrate.

You can read an in depth article about mp4 and H.264 here. If you have no clue what a codec or a container is and want to know → read it.


is a really good free compressing software. The mp4 and mov file that will result from the rendering described above can still be quite big so to keep file sizes low please download and install HandBrake.

Once running go to Import and find the “H.264 – fast – same as source.json” preset in Class Files → HandBrake → Class-Presets. This preset is set to H.264 with very good compression while keeping frame rate and dimensions of the original file.

You might also want to use this one with other files, if you want to put them on a website ore even e-mail them.

For comparison:

mov straight out of AE → 17.8MB
mp4 with Media Encoder – High Bitrate → 2,1MB
mov or mp4 compressed with HandBrake and Class-Preset → ca. 420 KB

INFO: This is also how you should render and then compress for your Home Assignments.

Tutorials and Know-How:

After Effects 3D Text Animation Tutorial NO PLUGINS! | Greyscalegorilla

Material Design Layers & Shadows in After Effects (Light Tool Tutorial) – T013

50 After Effects Tips, Tricks & Secrets for Beginners

After Effects – 2D Track from 3D Camera Tracking

How to use Camera Tracker in After Effects


Video about special effects