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Advice on Stabilizing & Aligning a Manual Multi-Pass Stop Motion Camera Move?

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Spencer KatzAdvice on Stabilizing & Aligning a Manual Multi-Pass Stop Motion Camera Move?
by on Jun 5, 2015 at 1:32:48 am

I'm a bit new to After Effects but I'm working with CC v. 13.2.0.49 on an iMac. Unfortunately I can't post the actual footage because of my client, but I'm hoping I can explain my question.

I have a shot from a stop motion project that required multiple camera move passes because the area was too small to fit all the props/characters and my hands to work at the same time. The camera move is simple, just dollying forward at a constant speed then slowing down to a stop.

We weren't able to afford a motion control unit, so the camera moves were done manually. We rigged up a sturdy steel bar, and the camera moves across it - with a ruler as a guide and specific positions for each frame. Despite moving the camera as precisely as possible to each position, each pass is very slightly different. The camera move eases in and out, and those are the frames where the slight difference in manual placements are more noticeable when I composite everything together. (The frames have an extremely small difference, but it's very noticeable during the slower parts of the camera move).

The only thing different on set in each pass is an added character, so all of the surfaces, planes, and points can be tracked at the same spots for each take. Can I somehow track the same place(s) in each take, stabilize to it, and align each take to that point? I have a few shots like this - some dolly left to right, etc - so I'd like to figure out a good workflow.

Again, I'm pretty much a novice when it comes to After Effects (and the Mocha that comes with it) so any help would be greatly appreciated - thanks!


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Tudor "Ted" JelescuRe: Advice on Stabilizing & Aligning a Manual Multi-Pass Stop Motion Camera Move?
by on Jun 5, 2015 at 7:30:07 am

Not having seen the actual footage it's hard to be precise in my advice. Here are a few things I would try:
Try Morphing using RE:Flex - it may work.
http://www.revisionfx.com/products/reflex/

Frame by frame matching - choose one of the shots as reference, stack the others on top, lower transparency and match position- you'll need to crop a bit the final result.

Masking- try to isolate with garbage masks, Mocha roto or difference key the pieces that are different in each pass (keep one as base) and comp all together- it may be that you will not notice that much of a difference.

Tudor "Ted" Jelescu
Senior VFX Artist


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Spencer KatzRe: Advice on Stabilizing & Aligning a Manual Multi-Pass Stop Motion Camera Move?
by on Jun 5, 2015 at 1:43:52 pm

Thanks for your reply, I'll check out that link. I got it working tracking the scale/position of the same spot on each take, then pairing them to a 3d camera that inverts it sort of. But I'm wondering about the 3d camera tracker. When I use it I get great track data and each take has so much of the same content I must be able to sync the 3d track data somehow. Any ideas?


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