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How to Use Advanced Motion Tracking in After Effects

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Read Time: 3 mins
Final product imageFinal product imageFinal product image
What You'll Be Creating

In this tutorial, we are going to pick up right where we left off in the last tutorial talking about basic motion tracking.

Today, you'll learn how to apply that motion tracking data to an object. You'll learn how to attach some text to the object we worked with in the last tutorial, so that the text follows our camper van down the road.

example projectexample projectexample project

Press on the keyboard, and you will see some detail about this track. For example, you can see the confidence that After Effects has that it is actually tracking the correct object. And if we scrub back and forth in the timeline, you can see that it is quite a high percentage, which is good.

press upress upress u

Create a Null Object (Layer > New > Null Object). A Null Object is an invisible layer that has all the properties of a visible layer (such as transform options).

null objectnull objectnull object

I can apply the tracking data to this Null Object, and then I can attach something to it so that it will follow all of the movement.

Make sure you have your footage layer selected, and go to the Tracker panel. Select the Edit Target button and make sure that it is targeting the right layer (in this example, it is Null 1). Click OK.

edit targetedit targetedit target

On the Tracker panel, click on the Apply button to apply that tracking data; I want to apply both in the x and the y. Then press OK.

apply buttonapply buttonapply button

You will now return to your original composition panel. And if you scrub along the timeline, you can see that the null object is locked to the camper.

null object is locked to campernull object is locked to campernull object is locked to camper

Now, if you click on the play preview button, you won't see anything except for the footage. This is because the null object is invisible.

null object invisiblenull object invisiblenull object invisible

However, if you click on the null object layer, you'll see there's a motion path there. I can see that because I can see all these dots.


If I press U with the null selected, that will show me all the keyframes that have been created on this layer. You can see there's a position keyframe on every single frame.

press upress upress u

Use the Text Tool to create some text, and position it about where you want it.

use the text tooluse the text tooluse the text tool

Use the Pick Whip and parent the camper text layer to the null object. That means that whatever the null object does, the Camper layer will follow along (because it's a child of the null layer). If the Null moves, the Camper will move, if the Null scales, the Camper will scale, if the Null rotates, the Camper will rotate, etc.

pick whip to the nullpick whip to the nullpick whip to the null

One of the best things about this technique is that you can create keyframes on the text layer independently from the null. So, for example, we can create scale keyframes to scale the text up as it moves closer to the camera.

And now I have a really nice track that looks as if it's scaling with the Camper, even though we didn't track the scale.

scale textscale textscale text


advanced motion trackingadvanced motion trackingadvanced motion tracking

Congratulations! And that's how you can use After Effects for advanced motion tracking. Now that you've learned how to do motion tracking in After Effects, check out some of the other tutorials we have on Adobe After Effects below.

I hope you've found this tutorial useful, and I'll see you next time on Envato Tuts+!

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