How to Easily 3D Track Your Footage with Your Phone

If you’re an iPhone user, your phone just got a seriously dope upgrade. The iPhone is an amazing consumer photography tool, and with new generations coming out regularly it is only a matter of time before the camera system is on par with any professional cinema camera.

But right now, apps like CamTrackAR are turning 3D tracking for VFX work, which is a tedious business for highly skilled crews, into something a single camera operator can do with the iPhone in seconds.

The possibility for independent filmmakers is growing exponentially as the accessibility gap for equipment shrinks, and though you’re limited to using footage from your phone, the results with this are very impressive. Let’s dive right in and have a look at what this dope little app can do with the help of our friends at Film Riot.

CamTrackAR is a free to try app with in app purchases for full access at $5.99/month or $29.99/forever. The system is very easy to use and surprisingly very accurate.

Simply identify the ground surface, and move the camera around the space, placing tracking points as you id new surfaces.

The free version is limited to a motion script for Blender3D, but the full version also generates a file for Adobe After Effects.

After you’re finished shooting, your video files and motion capture files are stored on your devices in a separate folder which you can access from your Files app and transfer over to your computer.

In After Effects importing is extremely easy; just go to File / Scripts / Run Script File then choose your JSX file. Now all of your video and motion tracking data is in!

Create a new solid layer, and apply Element 3D to it. In the effects panel, select Scene Setup and you can then create or import any three-dimensional object to place in your scene.

For this tutorial, they went a step further and made a cute little spaceship, rendered it to blend with the scene, and masked it so it would travel behind the tree, but you could do anything you can dream up!

Motion Tracking vs. iPhone Tracking

CamTrackAR is limited to 1080p video, and iPhone video isn’t yet known for being the absolute best. So many of you are probably hoping you can apply this to your cinema camera footage.

Well, you can’t. You can track high-quality footage in AE though!

Though it is possible to use the 3D camera tracker in AE to track a scene and insert objects from Element3D just as easily, it will never be as consistent as what you get from the iPhone and is best for short, unobstructed clips.

But, it’s pretty easy to do if you have the need.

Just select your clips, right-click and head to Track & Stabilize, then camera tracker. Apply the Element3D objects just the same as previous.


Having these object tracking features on your phone is a neat gimmick and a great way for an absolute beginner to dive into the deep ocean of visual effects.

Eventually, we’ll see the quality of the iPhone’s video get better and better to the point where it is indistinguishable from the ARRI Alexa (to the average person), and our phone will be our main tool on certain types of shoots.

My advice is to start using apps like these now, and learn to embrace the future – no matter how dark it may be.

[source: Film Riot]

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