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.

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.

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!

39 Comments

User avatar
3 Years Ago
August 8, 2016 @ 11:05 pm
I come to find that blog posts worth more that your youtube channel. yhank you!
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Surfaced Studio@ Simon Kaliro
1 Week Ago
June 22, 2020 @ 0:54 am

Everyone learns differently Glad to hear you enjoy my written tutorials!

User avatar
prithiviraj
3 Years Ago
January 28, 2017 @ 7:12 pm
Sir while running tracker after effects stopped working what ido
User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ prithiviraj
3 Years Ago
February 3, 2017 @ 11:14 pm
What do you mean with 'stopped working'?
User avatar
Chris@ Surfaced Studio
3 Years Ago
April 25, 2017 @ 0:31 pm
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.
User avatar
3 Years Ago
May 12, 2017 @ 0:14 pm
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
User avatar
jm
3 Years Ago
March 31, 2017 @ 1:02 am
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
User avatar
3 Years Ago
May 12, 2017 @ 0:13 pm
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.
User avatar
Feipe@ jm
2 Years Ago
December 14, 2017 @ 2:49 pm
Same problem, did you solve it?
User avatar
3 Years Ago
April 19, 2017 @ 10:14 am
thank you Tobias
User avatar
1 Week Ago
June 22, 2020 @ 0:54 am

You're welcome!

User avatar
Hamed
2 Years Ago
August 11, 2017 @ 5:48 am
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?
User avatar
2 Years Ago
August 11, 2017 @ 11:42 pm
Have you created your camera? Does that move along properly with your footage?
User avatar
Hamed@ Surfaced Studio
2 Years Ago
August 12, 2017 @ 2:15 am
I have created camera but it doesn't move!
User avatar
2 Years Ago
August 12, 2017 @ 9:17 am
How did you create your camera? And do your track points follow the footage correctly?
User avatar
Tony C
2 Years Ago
September 16, 2017 @ 6:29 am
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!
User avatar
2 Years Ago
October 12, 2017 @ 7:48 am
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
User avatar
Magnum
2 Years Ago
October 13, 2017 @ 0:00 am
Hi my track points are not showing but when i click render track points they are there what is wrong?
User avatar
2 Years Ago
October 22, 2017 @ 9:10 am
Make sure your 3D Camera Tracker effect is selected or the track points won't shot
User avatar
2 Years Ago
October 25, 2017 @ 9:01 pm
Man the "mask" trick just saved my life. Thanks a lot! This article is incredibly important for all 3D tracking AE people !!
User avatar
2 Years Ago
October 26, 2017 @ 0:33 pm
No worries at all, glad to hear you found it helpful!
User avatar
Ranjith
2 Years Ago
January 23, 2018 @ 1:44 pm
When I had text after tracking it won't attached to the footage. It change its position like normal text.. can u pls suggest what's going on???
User avatar
2 Years Ago
January 24, 2018 @ 11:04 pm
Sorry I do not understand. How did you attach the text to the footage?
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FRITZCUERDA@ Surfaced Studio
2 Years Ago
April 28, 2018 @ 0:04 am
Hi tobias, I've got a lil' problem, I succesfully tracked my target where I wanted to be tracked,then when I preview it, it went well but when I pair the blood splat layer to the null object, the blood effect was just floating around the scene.It was bad kids man...bad kids.how do I fix it?
PS: I watch the "PANNED bullet hit tutorial with a moving camera"and it is where the I knew about the tracker thing.I thing I still need to track Camera my footage.
User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ FRITZCUERDA
2 Years Ago
June 28, 2018 @ 0:43 pm
Hi, sorry for my slow response. Have you resolved your problem by now? How are you linking the blood splatter to the track? Have you ensured that the solid you created along with the camera is properly following your footage? If not, your track might not be very solid. Also, a good place to ask your questions is on my Forums
User avatar
Rouben
2 Years Ago
February 17, 2018 @ 2:55 am
AE works fine for me most of them time but is there a better program to more accurately 3d camera solve? I have a big project coming with a lot of after effects camera tracking so the time its takes is also a factor.
User avatar
2 Years Ago
May 18, 2018 @ 1:01 pm
You can look at some more dedicated tools such as Mocha Pro (now available as plugin for Adobe) or Syntheyes (not too expensive) and you can even track within Nuke
User avatar
Aldrin
2 Years Ago
February 26, 2018 @ 5:01 pm
Red target marker is not showing up. What should I do? Thanks in advance
User avatar
2 Years Ago
May 18, 2018 @ 0:59 pm
Maybe it's just so small that you can't see it? Sometimes the 3D Camera Tracker's scale can be way off depending on your footage
User avatar
Mike@ Surfaced Studio
1 Year Ago
February 17, 2019 @ 1:21 am
Same here....no matter what I try I just dont seem to be able to get the red target to appear, even though the footage seems to have tracked OK???
User avatar
1 Year Ago
March 29, 2019 @ 8:53 pm
Do you see the track points correctly follow the visual elements in your shot?
User avatar
Kevin
1 Year Ago
January 17, 2019 @ 3:59 pm
Have you ever encountered a problem where in Mocha Pro, you solved the camera and copy its data into AE CC2019, but when you try to paste the mocha camera, it doesn't give you the option?
User avatar
1 Year Ago
April 4, 2019 @ 11:21 pm
I've only ever had that issue with old version of the standalone version of Mocha which required a separate plugin for AE to copy/paste the data across. What version of AE and the plugin are you using?
User avatar
Moses Moshe Sharma
11 Months Ago
July 17, 2019 @ 5:24 pm

Hi after I have tracked the footage I don’t see the track points !

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ Moses Moshe Sharma
11 Months Ago
July 18, 2019 @ 3:51 pm
Make sure you have the footage layer and the effect itself selected once you've completed the tracking
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Ian Shields
2 Months Ago
April 4, 2020 @ 5:55 am

Howdy -- Sooo, I apply the 3d Camera Tracker to just about any straightforward, 30 secs or less video I have, but no matter what, the tracking points it creates simply do not MOVE with the video, like they're supposed to. I've seen a ton of Adobe and YouTube tutorials, and it's clear I'm doing the right thing. They just sit over the image, stalled in the air, as though all they did was track one frame.

I feel like I understand exactly what AE is SUPPOSED to do here, it's just NOT DOING IT. WTH?

Why are my tracking points not moving with the video?!!!

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ Ian Shields
2 Months Ago
April 18, 2020 @ 0:45 am

Howdy,

Are you able to share a video of what you are doing and what is happening on YouTube or on my forums ? It's hard to tell what exactly might be going wrong (or whether it's a technical issue) without seeing the steps you take to get there.

Cheers,
Tobias

User avatar
Aashu
3 Weeks Ago
June 10, 2020 @ 9:45 am

hello, i hope you reply.does the vid size and comp size must be same and we cant change layout settings in 3d tracking

User avatar
1 Week Ago
June 22, 2020 @ 0:55 am

You won't be able to track your shot unless your comp and video size match. If in doubt pre-compose your video

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