Introduction to Camera Tracking

A complete introduction to one of Blender’s newest features: Camera Tracking.

Length:
57 minutes
Software:
Blender 2.62
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Rate:
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 4.9/5 (285 votes cast)

In case you didn’t hear, Blender recently came bundled with an awesome new feature called Camera Tracking. This tutorial will give you a complete beginners introduction to what it is and how to start using it right now.

In this tutorial you will discover:

  • The basics of camera tracking
  • How to track your very first video
  • How to create a sweet sinkhole hoax

Finished Result

Did I fool you? This video was posted on Youtube, Twitter and Facebook 24 hours ago. Many of you rightly called it fake, but a few thought it was real. So if that’s you, no hard feelings! Welcome to the wonderful world of camera tracking ;)

Download the Source Files  Download the Final .blend

What is Camera Tracking?

Camera Tracking is a process which involves taking a video that has been filmed with a real live camera and tracking it’s motion so that 3d elements can be added to it.

This process is used countless times throughout movies and tv shows to add special effects, backdrops, robots, you name it. A perfect example is the Transformers 3 trailer. Anytime there’s a moving camera shot, and there’s a cg element, camera tracking has been used.

Traditionally this process is done using a dedicated camera tracker like Syntheyes. But third party software is expensive, and also quite awkward to work with as you have to deal with the whole export/import issue.

But now, Blender has it’s own camera tracker… and it’s built right into the program.

Now you can track a video, add 3d elements and render it, all without ever leaving Blender.

At a Glance

Screenshots from the video:


Further Inspiration

Not sure where to go with this tutorial? Check out these videos for more camera tracking ideas:

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Create something cool? Post it in the comments below.
Introduction to Camera Tracking, 4.9 out of 5 based on 285 ratings

About Andrew Price

User of Blender for 9+ years. I've written tutorials for 3d World Magazine and spoken at three Blender conferences. My goal is to help artists get employed in the industry by making training accessible and easy to understand. I'm an Aussie and I live in South Korea ;)
  • Jesper

    Thanks for a great tutorial! I have two questions. When you show how the different nodes have just been added in the compositing window I don´t get them (?) and also my cube doesn´t move in 3D space. (it also appears much larger than your default one does) Any suggestions? (I´m using Blender 1.69)

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  • gfjfjg

    fgfhsdgs

  • http://GuitarraEn5minutos.com/ Alejandro RR

    In my blender (2.69) dont appear “add marker and move”, only “add marker”, and the mark remain in the same place without move with the video.

    • cgajm

      lot of things have changed in the tracker since this video. just click the add marker button then click in your clip to place the marker.
      or just hold ctrl and click in the clip.

  • shachar harshuv

    I made this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPtF4QaRztE&feature=youtu.be

    The same thing, I just added my country flag.

    • Martin James

      nice one!!!

  • Antoine Macfarlane

    Thank you!

  • Abdel

    Every time I press ‘Camera Motion’ it tells me “At least 8 common tracks on both of keyframes are needed for reconstruction”. What the heck does that mean??? Plz helppp!

    • Anoymous

      I think it means that you have to have 8 tracks that work from your first to second keyframe (ie. frame 1 to frame 30, you need at least eight markers that are tracked from frame 1 to 30) I got a solve error of about 1/3

  • Jerad

    Great video Andrew! Just playing around with the motion capture using white light reflecting off porcelain objects instead of using white tape gave a relatively good solve error. However when I apply the camera solver modifier, the trackers end up being too close to the camera and not applied to my whole blender scene. I can get around it by scaling down my objects and putting it near the camera but I don’t want this to be my only solution. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Geert Daelemans

    Thanks Andrew,

    My invitation to my Halloween-night looks a bit better thanks to this tutorial. Now I need some better processor and memory to power up the resolution… ;-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmGRMPvQrEA

    Cheers,

    Geert

  • Obliverate
  • Matthieu Barbié

    Great tutorial !!! just one question, if the video is longer than 250 frames, what I need to change ? I already changed in property editor the end frame but still lock at frame 250… Why ? help me please ;)

  • Dmitry Kravchenko

    How do you delete all markers and add multiple markers by one click on “Add Marker and Move”? You are explaining Ctrl-Left and Ctrl-Right, but does not explaining this!

  • Dmitry Kravchenko

    Tracking also does not occur as you showed.

  • Dmitry Kravchenko

    Does not work as you wrote. May be I do something wrong, but, (1) movie does not move if I press play button, (2) I have no “Add marker and move” button, but just “Add marker” instead, and (3) also while adding a marker, I don’t see zoomed image at right, but see only after I clicked LMB.

  • Sam Samson

    So, if you taped bright marker tabs around an actors mouth while they read character dialog, could data from this camera tracking technique be converted into animation movement assigned to facial bones? A challenge for the grey matter, oh mighty, Guru. :D #Peace2U

    • cgajm

      yes quite easily. well, not “easily” but it can be done just assign empties to the tracks and parent the bones to the empties. you’ll have to track as an object rather than a camera though

  • Jeffrey Roy

    awesome tutorial! Trying to make a hole in my living room gonna post on facebook. The only way I can see my plane and circle is through the camera view. I couldn’t hit 7 for top view to extrude the circle. Any ideas why I can view it?

  • Blendroid

    thank you Andrew for this tutorial (and all others indeed…).
    A really nice and usefull introduction to camera tracking.

  • D.B.

    Hello Andrew. Awesome tutorial , like always :).

    I wanted just to point out that when u specify the lens u shot u need to take in to account the crop factor of sensor. 18mm on a 550 D is in fact 18×1,6=28,8mm so is notl 18 mm but the FOV is for a 28,8mm on Full frame sensor, because the 550D sensor is 1,6 times smaller then full frame and the specification of lenses are written for full frame. The ”fake-ines” people say, is because lack of gamma correction and lack of grain. If u notice the dirt outside is a bit washed out and the hole has to high contrast :). PS: is only constructive criticism, i love your tutorials.

    More information on crop factor here : http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Canon-Lenses/Field-of-View-Crop-Factor.aspx

    • Stikstofman

      No, he doesn’t have to take in account the DX sensor size with the calculation (1.6x with Canon and 1.5x for the rest of the DX cameras) as the size of his sensor is specified in the settings.

  • http://www.clippingpathzone.com/ Sila Mahmud

    Awesome tutorial thanks.

  • http://goldingdamien.blogspot.jp/ Damien Golding

    Looks only very slightly fake. Wouldn’t notice at all if I wasn’t concentrating hard for weird areas. Good job.

  • Clint Hobson

    I believe the only reason people would call it a fake is your behaviour and NOT the special effects, which looked damn near perfect!

    Your reluctance to get near the hole and look down it (possibly explaining the ground nearby might be unstable would’ve helped) and at the end, your comically theatrical “That’s a hole in the ground!” sounded a bit too much like you were trying to “sell” it, rather than maybe a comment about how you’re going to report it to the authorities when you get off camera or something.

  • tonnerrealg

    You all talk more than you explain. You do not show in detail from the beginning. I’m new with blender,and I do not know how to start anything with it. Same as the guy who used MGM logo replacing the lion with his cat; he didn’t even say how he imported the video shot first. I checked with other people and always the same thing. Guys WWWWE AAAAAre beginers, rookies. Do not explain the same as if you were explaining it to yourself.

    • Walnięty Walęty

      dude, watch all the tutorials from the first one and you’ll get it. If you would have done that already you would propably find basic instructions as annoying as I do.
      And seriously if you are looking for tutorials for beginners why don’t you google something like …. “blender tutorial for beginners”?
      You know … just calm down your troll and listen to your brain…

    • Jacco van Leeuwen

      Difficulty:
      Intermediate

    • http://goldingdamien.blogspot.jp/ Damien Golding

      I partially agree about explaining properly for beginners, but this also quite an advanced area. In general, I think explaining in terms that anyone can understand is good advice for developers as it is something that can be forgotten when you understand something so well.

  • swastik bagra

    Hello Andrew,
    I am currently tracking a 12 sec footage from ‘tears of steel’- 4K scaled down, HD1080p. So far i have added 125 markers over 295 frames. I learnt that Tears of steel was shot using sony F65, and have set the focal length and sensor width parameters accordingly. Focal length – 52mm and sensor width – 35. Tracking setting: Average pattern size – 40, search size – 60. Motion model – Loc, and Match – previous frame.

    I have also added two key frames, where i could see drastic change in camera angle.

    I got a solve error of 2. One thing I have noticed is not all of my tracking points are green. The ratio of green : red is 40:60.

    I would like to know:

    - how to overcome my solve error,
    - importance of green vs red highlight of markers
    - Regarding key frames: in detail, esp why is that one has to choose just two key frames from the entire footage.

  • Minde

    hey, I tryed to push the button “Setup tracking scene” but i cant. What can I do?

  • Afzal

    what key you actually pressed at the time 42:43 in this tutorial… pls help !

    • Walnięty Walenty

      If you mean how to toggle propotional editing, its [O]

  • swastik

    could please let me know the creative commons for the footage

  • swastik

    I would like to knoe the creative commons foe the footage

  • EMILIO CRUZ

    ok so solved a scene but the distances are too big and are too far away. how can i scale them down? any ideas?

  • shastro

    can you please add some kind of text totorial or just some steps at the bottom because my internet takes hours to load a ten minute video and ive been waiting all day and ive only watched half of it. Great video so far.

    • Joseph

      I too have the same problem as yours ! It would be pleasant if guru have included a PDF or text version of video tutorial !

  • quantenfirk

    hmm ty but y cant u write pdf files? i just had to watch 35 min of a video and only needed like 2 of it

  • Anatoly Skugarov

    Hi! Here is my recent tryout of camera tracking model animation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3aSynEwrlI

    • Jasper V

      NICE!

  • Mike

    Awesome tutorial mate :)

  • Jason Bain

    I was also learning from this tutorial and everything went fine. The Average solve error was about 0.8 so I’m guessing that’s good. But when I put the camera solver on, the tracking points were scattered everywhere around the scene in 3D view. Any help?

    • Anatoly Skugarov

      Press “0″ at the numpad to switch between cameraview and freeview.

    • EMILIO CRUZ

      solve straigth from the reconstruction tab in the movie clip editor. and also check that your FOV is correct, so the tracked points make more sense

  • Jesus Pereira

    Awesome tuts man, um, when I put the clip into Blender 2.66 the playback is choppy and the video starts to stutter something fierce. How can I avoid that and what am I doing wrong?
    Oh yeah I set my sequence cache to max.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Jesus Pereira

      I got it I was using another clip and it wasn’t the quality that your source file had. Thanks for the tutorials man you are the best. Cant wait for another Academy course from you. Still trying to get me funds together to get the first one you did, Nature Academy. The exchange rates are killer in my country and I am a suffering non-artist. :) Thanks again for the awesome tuts!

  • Gordon

    I really liked that tutorial a lot, downloaded the source files (because I don’t have my own footage yet) and tried repeat it. By the end of the clip almost every marker is lost – and the ones still there don’t point at the right place anymore even after a few frames. It doesn’t seem to work not even a little bit as good as in your video. So without getting the tracking I don’t have to bother for the rest of the process. I have no idea why I can’t get even close to your tracking result although all settings are like yours.

    Unfortunately as I have Blender 2.66a there is no “Tracker” setting like “Hybrid”, as someone mentioned before. There’s only “Motion Control”, and none of the possible options seem to work as good as shown in the tutorial. So what did I do wrong, if it’s not just because there changed a lot in the new Blender version?

  • Cassandra Valente

    So I don’t know what i did wrong, but when I went back to 3d view it just showed the cube and camera you see when you start the program

  • Cassandra

    Hey! great tutorial! I used an Insignia camcorder and online for the Sensor width it just says “electronic sensor” so what should I set it at?

  • Faridlox

    Can someone help me? When i put the track at the pixels the track doesnt follows like my other track.
    And how do i export it as video?

  • acaonweb

    there is someone who read this? I’ve a video taken with an iphone5. What are the right camera settings? Thanx in advance to all

    • Julien

      google: datasheet iphone 5

      • http://www.acaonweb.it/ Fabrizio

        thanx i’ve resolved, btw i needed how set Blender with the camera data…

  • kalimeroo

    Thanks for this great tutorials. They all are very well done and easy to follow.
    I was just wondering if this scene could be rendered in cycles (for shadow casting) ?

  • Chris

    Can you do a video on object tracking?

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.plewa Rich Plewa

    I am using 2.66a the camera tracking video I made has a slight problem the object near the end of the video slides. I tried several times to fix the problem, reloaded the video from clean start and made sure the track stayed where they should be but it still slides the object near the end of the video. Great tutorial thanks.

  • kalimeroo

    Great tutotial. Thanks Andrew.
    Do you know if there is any possibility of rendering the scene with cycles ?
    I set the film to transparent but then my models fade away.

  • raf

    I found that having two perpendicular surfaces yields quite a good track. I got something around .6 with only 14 tracking points.

    Thank you so much for your tutorials Andrew. Here my vid(may be inapropriate for children): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=seSFIsJxY_A

    • Halsen

      Creepy, nice job!

  • Spy93

    Hi,I’m a NEWBIE in Blender and this is my first attempt in using Camera Tracking. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=irB8Nh_0oPM

    Thx a lot for the tutorials!

    • Jasper V

      nice! i am newbie too, but don’t think i can make this yet :-)

  • christian finne

    Wauv, great tut…;) Now Ive been trying to use the same teqniques with several different videoshots and the tracking goes ok…my problem is with “plane” (background) and “cylinder” (foreground)… when I render plane, it looks like a light square that just barely blends in with the ground and not like in your vid… Ive triede checking/unchecking various boxes, but havnt got a clue what to do…

    • dave niewinski

      I’m running into exactly the same problem. Has anyone figured out how to fix this?

      • dave niewinski

        After enough trial and error, I got it figured out. Not sure why, but under the Background render layer, Sky is checked off. Deselect this and everything works great!

  • Brandon Okert

    Great tutorial! One thing that really helped me when tracking more complex scenes: You can change your markers on any frame, and it’ll basically ‘keyframe’ that change for you. Say you’re tracking successfully, but then your marker is close to the edge after 300 frames. You can change the height of the marker on frame 301, and it’ll keep that width for the rest of the frames, but retain it’s old width for the previous frames.

  • Ray

    Hi,i’m using Blender 2.64(i’ve also tryed with older versions of Blender like 2.62/2.63/etc)and i can’t play my video in blender,when i press play,the green line moves,it shows that the video is playing but i can see only the first frame in my movie clip editor window…i’d be verry gratefull if u could help me with this issue…thx a lot xD

    • Julien

      Same with me.. i think our RAM is too low to load the whole clip properly .. u need to hold leftclick and move the mouse over the bottom panel

    • Julien

      Same with me.. i think our RAM is too low to load the whole clip properly .. u need to hold leftclick and move the mouse over the bottom panel