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!

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33 Comments

      1. 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.

  1. 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

    1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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!

    1. 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 :)

  4. 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???

      1. 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.

        1. 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 :)

  5. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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???

  6. 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?

    1. 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?

  7. 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?!!!

    1. 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

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