Mocha AE v2 with Mocha Shape
After Effects CS4 introduced Mocha AE, an incredible planar tracking application, as an included component. Planar tracking goes way beyond what After Effects' own built-in point tracker can do, because it looks at whole two-dimensional surfaces or planes as one tracking target. This more sophisticated approach to tracking increases signal and reduces noise so much that many of us found ourselves using Mocha AE for just about every type of tracknot just its specialty, the Corner Pin (which allows for easy replacement of a sign or billboard, for example, in a shot with a moving camera).
Mocha AE version 2, which is still a separate application that appears in the After Effects CS5 application folder, goes beyond its predecessor in three key ways:
- First is the addition of Mocha Shape, an included plug-in that lets Mocha export one of its tracked and animated Bézier or X-spline shapes for use in After Effects. You can track anything procedurally (not just a plane, for example, but say an arm, a head, or that other type of planean airplane) and use the shape that's tracked around it in After Effects, instead of just the tracking data.
- Even better, you can simply copy that shape from Mocha AE and paste it into After Effects as a mask. Read that again, because this may be the biggest feature in After Effects CS5 that almost no one has discovered: Mocha AE can track a shape around an object over time, and you can copy that shape and paste it into a layer's Mask Shape, with keyframe data, right in the Timeline.
- The other great addition to Mocha AE is that the path from Mocha to After Effects is now smoother. Copying data to be pasted into After Effects just works.
I know what you're thinking: "Weren't you just telling me about this other great automated roto tool?" The point is that no tool does everything. Roto Brush data cannot be converted to Mask Shape keyframes, and masks are embedded into so many operations in After Effects and its plug-ins that you could find yourself using Mocha AE as much as Roto Brush to create roto masks.