Tip #819: Use Motion’s Motion Tracker

… for Apple Motion

Tip #819: Use Motion’s Motion Tracker

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

Motion track is a great way to move text or pointing arrows in sync with something else in the frame.

(Footage courtesy of Jim Walker and Lobsters Gone Wild Productions.)
The key to tracking success is finding a clearly defined and not obscured tracking point.

Topic $TipTopic

Motion has an OK motion tracker built into it. It’s much better than Final Cut, which has none, but not as good as Mocha Pro. Here’s how to use it.

  • Import a video clip containing the movement you want to track; the shark in the screen shot.
  • Create a new layer with the object you want to move in sync with the first object; the text “Shark” in my example.
  • Select the text track and apply Behaviors > Motion Track > Match Move.
  • In Inspector > Behaviors, make sure the background clip (Shark) appears in the top image box. If not, drag it in.
  • Position the playhead where you want the track to start.
  • Drag the yellow dot from the center of the text clip and drag it onto a clearly identifiable point in the background clip.

NOTE: This is the critically important step. The tracking point on the “shark” video needs to be visible for the entire track, sharply defined and different from elements in the image behind it. Motion’s motion tracker gets easily confused. If you don’t get a good track, try a different position for the tracking point.

  • Then, in Inspector > Behaviors click Analyze.

The motion tracker will track the moving object – the dorsal fin point in my example – moving the text in sync with the shark.


There are many configuration options with this behavior. Read the help files to learn more.

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