Common 3D Camera Tracker Problems in Adobe After Effects

User avatarApril 29, 2014 by Surfaced Studio

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!

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33 Comments

User avatar
Simon Kaliro
3 Years Ago
August 8, 2016 @ 6:05 pm

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

User avatar
prithiviraj
2 Years Ago
January 28, 2017 @ 12:12 pm

Sir while running tracker after effects stopped working what ido

User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ prithiviraj
2 Years Ago
February 3, 2017 @ 4:14 pm

What do you mean with 'stopped working'?

User avatar
Chris@ Surfaced Studio
2 Years Ago
April 24, 2017 @ 19:31 am

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
2 Years Ago
May 11, 2017 @ 19:14 am

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
2 Years Ago
March 30, 2017 @ 7:02 pm

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
2 Years Ago
May 11, 2017 @ 19:13 am

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
1 Year Ago
December 13, 2017 @ 19:49 am

Same problem, did you solve it?

User avatar
Roei
2 Years Ago
April 18, 2017 @ 17:14 am

thank you Tobias

User avatar
Hamed
2 Years Ago
August 10, 2017 @ 12:48 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 @ 6:42 pm

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

User avatar
Hamed@ Surfaced Studio
2 Years Ago
August 11, 2017 @ 9:15 pm

I have created camera but it doesn't move!

User avatar
2 Years Ago
August 11, 2017 @ 16:17 am

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

User avatar
Tony C
2 Years Ago
September 15, 2017 @ 13:29 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 11, 2017 @ 13:48 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 12, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

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 21, 2017 @ 15:10 am

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

User avatar
Vincent
2 Years Ago
October 25, 2017 @ 3:01 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 25, 2017 @ 18:33 am

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

User avatar
Ranjith
1 Year Ago
January 22, 2018 @ 18:44 am

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
1 Year Ago
January 24, 2018 @ 4:04 pm

Sorry I do not understand. How did you attach the text to the footage?

User avatar
FRITZCUERDA@ Surfaced Studio
1 Year Ago
April 27, 2018 @ 7:04 pm

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
1 Year Ago
June 27, 2018 @ 19:43 am

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
1 Year Ago
February 16, 2018 @ 7:55 pm

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
1 Year Ago
May 17, 2018 @ 20:01 am

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
1 Year Ago
February 25, 2018 @ 22:01 am

Red target marker is not showing up. What should I do? Thanks in advance

User avatar
1 Year Ago
May 17, 2018 @ 19:59 am

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
9 Months Ago
February 16, 2019 @ 6:21 pm

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
7 Months Ago
March 29, 2019 @ 2:53 pm

Do you see the track points correctly follow the visual elements in your shot?

User avatar
Kevin
10 Months Ago
January 16, 2019 @ 20:59 am

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
7 Months Ago
April 4, 2019 @ 5:21 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
4 Months Ago
July 17, 2019 @ 10:24 pm

Hi after I have tracked the footage I don’t see the track points !
User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ Moses Moshe Sharma
4 Months Ago
July 17, 2019 @ 22:51 am

Make sure you have the footage layer and the effect itself selected once you've completed the tracking

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