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Why CamTrackAR Is Big News For VFX

Why CamTrackAR Is Big News For VFX

We're covering the release of CamTrackAR, a new iOS app that creates real-time camera tracking data.

Wouldn't it be great if you could add VFX to any scene without ever needing to give a thought to camera tracking?

The task of creating quality visual effects is difficult enough on its own, but having that added pain point of often having to track a camera is just one extra layer of work that can be time-consuming, and creatively stifling.

Although there are plenty of great tools out there that can make it easier (such as Mocha), camera tracking can be one of the most frustrating aspects of producing VFX.

While that dream of a camera tracking-free VFX world isn't exactly a reality yet, FXhome (the makers of HitFilm) just released a new app that has the potential to revolutionize the industry when it comes to simplifying camera tracking.
Source: FXhome | YouTube

What is CamTrackAR?

CamTrackAR is an iOS app that uses Apple's ARKit technology to generate real-time camera tracking data during video recording. You open the app, place AR tracking points in your environment, record your scene, then the tracking data is captured along with an .mp4 clip of your recording. Absolutely incredible!
FXhome deserves so much credit for this innovation. They are simply adapting existing technology to meet a very substantial need in the industry, and this is truly a pivotal moment for where visual effects could go from here.

The most obvious limitation now is being restricted to an iOS device for recording, but Android users can rest assured FXhome is looking into adding Android support for ARCore (according to their YouTube comments).

The video is currently captured at 1920x1440 at 60fps, but it's likely more options will be available in the future.

CamTrackAR | Cost and Software Compatibility

Currently, CamTrackAR has a free version (these are the generous makers of HitFilm Express after all), along with two paid options.

You can opt for a subscription of $4.99/mo., or purchase the app outright for $29.99.

The difference between the free and paid versions is pretty straightforward. The paid versions allow you to have more tracking points for improved accuracy when needed, along with a .jsx file option for importing your tracking data into After Effects.

The free version of CamTrackAR exports a .hfcs (HitFilm Composite Shot) file for working in HitFilm, or a Python script for importing into Blender.

You can see how the Blender integration works in the excellent video below. 
A great idea the video mentions is using CamTrackAR to also simply generate your own handheld camera motion data. 

You don’t necessarily have to use it for a compositing/augmented reality scene, you could theoretically use it to control a virtual camera in Blender or After Effects. You could walk around a room or just simulate a specific movement, then simply connect your tracking data to the 3D camera in your VFX software.

The potential expansion of this technology in the future is mind-boggling. Affordable cinema cameras could simply integrate smartphone sensors and firmware (similar to ARKit) and record every clip with embedded 3D tracking metadata.
Source: FXhome | YouTube

FXhome could also even add a feature that allows you to sync up any external camera's footage with iOS tracking data, by allowing you to mount your iPhone to a hot shoe and adding offset adjustments based on the camera and lens you're using.

Regardless of what the future holds for the VFX industry, CamTrackAR is truly a monumental achievement that will be a stepping stone to the next era of visual effects.

You can download CamTrackAR for free now on the App Store.  If you pick it up, we’d love for you to share some cool VFX made with it in the comments!

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