Hocus Pocus Mocha Magic, Part 2

Last time, I talked about where we have come from in terms of tracking. More than a history lesson, I wanted to show where some old habits have come from regarding shooting for tracking in post.

The next generation of tracking is planar tracking. As you might guess, “planar” comes from “plane”—a flat surface. Instead of the software tracking a few points, it tracks a plane (or planes) of pixels within the scene to determine movement. One key advantage of using a plane is that there’s more data to track. If part of the plane is obscured or leaves the scene, the track doesn’t necessarily fail. You can also combine several planes to calculate a track.

Mocha Pro by Boris FX is an example of a planar tracker. If you work with Adobe After Effects, you may have used a portion of Mocha Pro because a limited version of the software is included with AE.

Boris FX recently released Mocha Pro 2019, which is the reason I started this discussion about tracking. Not only will the new features be welcomed by users familiar with the software, changes to the interface will help new users get started tracking more quickly.

  • Mocha Pro’s previous interface, while efficient if you knew your way through the software, could be intimidating because of everything Mocha can do. Through the use of workspaces, Mocha Pro 2019 now makes getting up to speed easier. If you have been anxious about trying your mouse at tracking, now is the time.
  • For instance, the Mocha Essentials Workspace clears away the clutter of adjustments and tools used less frequently. Instead, you’re presented with the core tools to get you tracking a scene quickly.
The Essential Workspace clears out the more advanced tools and settings, making the interface easier to understand.
The Essential Workspace clears out the more advanced tools and settings, making the interface easier to understand.
  • The new interface also looks better on a retina display (or other high DPI display) compared to previous versions of the software. But if you’re used to the software, you can always get back to the classic Mocha interface via a drop-down menu in the tool bar.

With the growth of tracking tools, tracking isn’t just about placing an object in a scene. You can now create more complicated tracked masks. Mocha Pro 2019 has added several “spline” tools to help create those masks that you want to track. For instance, a magnetic spline tool with edge snapping lets Mocha help you find and lock to the edges of details in the scene. You can also now draw freehand shapes rather than building them point by point. Mocha Pro 2019 also has tools to easily create elliptical and rectangle shapes, rather than building them point by point.

The magnetic spline tool is in bright blue. The rectangular and elliptical spline tools are right next door.
The magnetic spline tool is in bright blue. The rectangular and elliptical spline tools are right next door.

As tracking technology has matured over the years the software does more than create and export tracking data:

  • Mocha can help with the final composite through its Insert module. This allows Mocha Pro 2019 to apply motion blur to the insert for a more realistic composite.
  • Mocha’s Remove module is a magical (there’s that word again) tool for removing an object from a scene. At its core, you track the object you want to remove, and Mocha finds the pixels that appear behind the object at different times in the scene. With Mocha 2019, this feature is now GPU accelerated for even faster calculations.
  • With enough data in the scene, Mocha can figure out how the camera was moving. This is called a “camera solve,” and the data from this process is used to place 3D objects in a scene.

Mocha Pro 2019 is available as a standalone application or as a plug-in to many edit and motion graphic applications.

I’ve briefly touched on several of Mocha’s capabilities and new features. Next time I’ll cover why you might consider a specific version of Mocha Pro 2019 in your editing arsenal.

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