Film School: Motion Tracking & Text

Panic Room | Title Sequence by Kevin Tod Haug Panic Room | Title Sequence by Kevin Tod Haug

Examples and short tutorials on motion tracking and text in After Effects.

Kevin-Tod-Haug‘s title design for David Fincher‘s film Panic Room (2002) comprises text floating above, while seemingly connected to, real-world buildings, as the camera pans and tilts across cityscapes (via Art of the Title):

2D motion tracking

The opening scene of Stranger Than Fiction (2006), designed by VFX house MK12, tracks nested compositions to create complex-looking results from the basic motion tracking process:

Every Frame a Painting looks at ways motion tracking and type are used to make texting more visually interesting in the series Sherlock:

Ms Marvel (2022) playfully incorporates texting into the environment:

Motion tracking can of course be applied to other objects – such as nested compositions, sequences, or footage, as in clppng’s music video ‘Summertime’:

Try It Yourself – 2D motion tracking

Some better-known examples of motion tracking and graphic overlays in modern movies can be found in the MCU. MJake breaks down the combination of static images, effects and nested compisitions that goes into Doctor Strange‘s shield effect:

Using slightly more advanced techniques, Cinecom recreates Iron Man’s “HUD” (Heads-Up Display):

Try It Yourself – 3D motion tracking

Kyler Holland‘s super-short, three-minute tutorial offers a concise overview of how to move from tracking in 2D space to 3D space:

Peter McKinnon‘s quick guide to creating text which tracks in a 3D space builds on the 2D tracking principles explored above:

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