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Common 3D Camera Tracker Problems in Adobe After Effects

The 3D Camera Tracker in Adobe After Effects is a powerful tool that lets you analyse your footage and extract information about the movement of the real life camera used to film the scene. Assuming the tracking data is spot on, you can then place other visual elements in the 3D space of your scene and they will follow the movement of the camera correctly.

After Effects 3D Camera Tracker - 10 Positioned 3D Text

I have a full tutorial on how to use the 3D Camera Tracker in Adobe After Effects as a part of my 3D Integration VFX tutorial series.

As great as the 3D Camera Tracker is, there are a number of common problems that people encounter when trying to track their footage and this tutorial will explain what is going wrong and how you can fix it.

How the 3D Camera Tracker Works

Before we look into why the 3D camera tracker does not work, we first need to understand how it does work.

The 3D Camera Tracker works by analysing your footage frame by frame and detecting features that it can track. A feature is a clearly distinguishable visual shape in your clip that represents a fixed location in space. Moving objects like people and cars are not features and tend to interfere with the 3D camera Tracker.

The tracker will try to find as many features as possible in your footage and track their movement from frame to frame. This generates a cloud of 2 dimensional track points on your footage.
Using this cloud of 2D track points, the 3D Camera Tracker then tries to ‘solve the camera’. It will try to infer the 3D position of these track points based on how they move as a group and then derive the movement of the camera from this data.

In the screenshot below you can see that the 2D track points are all the same size as they have no 3D position. On the right side the size of the solved 3D track points represents how far they are from the camera.

3D Camera Tracker Problems 14 - 3D Tracker Solved

Now that we understand the basics of how the 3D Camera Tracker works, let’s look at the most common scenarios of why it might fail!

19 comments for Common 3D Camera Tracker Problems in Adobe After Effects

  1. I come to find that blog posts worth more that your youtube channel. yhank you!

  2. Sir while running tracker after effects stopped working what ido

    • What do you mean with ‘stopped working’?

      • I’ve had the same issue… it goes into “solving camera” and, after 20 or 30 seconds, a window pops up saying that After Effects has stopped working and will close out.

        • Try tracking a shorter clip just to see if that works at all. If not, you may have to contact Adobe to get some technical support

  3. why does mine get stuck on “solving camera”?
    my footage is on 60 fps so its not that blurry and it has plenty of stuff to track and no one is moving except the camera

    • Maybe your footage is too long or too complex? Try bringing it down to 30 fps (you can pre-compose it so you can speed it back up later) or tracking only a part of it to see if that works.

    • Same problem, did you solve it?

  4. thank you Tobias :)

  5. I created null object and camera when ‘No depth from a tripod pan solve’ is shown but null object dosn’t move with the track points It looks like that It isn’t attached to the track point.
    What should I do?

    • Have you created your camera? Does that move along properly with your footage?

      • I have created camera but it doesn’t move!

        • How did you create your camera? And do your track points follow the footage correctly?

  6. Hi Tobias, I am curious how to adjust camera tracking once an error occurs. Example, I am tracking two separate objects (both applied as two solid camera layers), everything is set up and tracking fine, then all of a sudden “Error”. Now on replay I have this red bar over some of my footage and one of my tracked layers is floating off it’s original path. Is there a way to go into the camera tracking and fine tune it back? Thank you!

    • Unfortunately, the 3D Camera Tracker is not a perfect tool and, depending on your footage, may encounter parts of your video that it simply can’t track. You can try to adjust its setttings (e.g. try Detailed Analysis) or delete some of the track points that might throw it off, but if that doesn’t help you may have to think of a different solution. You could try Mocha (I have a few tutorials for that on my YouTube channel) or break up your video into different sections that you can then track separately :)

  7. Hi my track points are not showing but when i click render track points they are there what is wrong?

    • Make sure your 3D Camera Tracker effect is selected or the track points won’t shot

  8. Man the “mask” trick just saved my life. Thanks a lot! This article is incredibly important for all 3D tracking AE people !!

    • No worries at all, glad to hear you found it helpful!

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