By: The Pixel Farm
PFTrack enables computer generated effects to be matched with film or video sequences no matter what their resolution. PFTrack is also a suite of analysis technologies designed to extract both detailed camera information and pixel motion data from video and film sequences and allow this data to be fully utilized within a post-production environment.
The unique geometry tracking system in PFTrack allows 3D geometry to be imported into PFTrack and then matched to sequences, making this an ideal tool for head and facial replacement meaning artists can now be confident that animated CG, when rendered and composited, will exactly match the live action. Complex Geometry can be imported and used to solve cameras in addition to the use of automatic or user placed features. This is perfect for problematic shots or for tracking set extension models into footage. Using motion groups it is a simple task to extract both camera and object motion. Any or all motions can be exported along with animated geometry if required. Version 5.0 includes Geometry Tracking vertex weighting this allows you to paint the influence each vertex point has on the final tracking. A simple paint tool allows you to quickly paint onto the imported 3D geometry.
New Features in PFTrack 2013
- Simple Track and Solve Node - The Simple Track and Solve node is an auto-feature tracker and camera solver all in one. Featuring a classic working environment that many users will find very familiar, the Simple Track and Solve node is as easy as it gets, with a single click to track and a single click to solve. Junior trackers will enjoy a significantly simplified UI, while benefitting from the tried and tested algorithms that The Pixel Farm are famous for. More experienced matchmovers may chose to work in the Advanced mode, unlocking all of the individual parameters that effect how tracking is performed on increasingly difficult shots. Advanced integration artists can also use the Simple Track and Solve node to establish an initial camera path, to be built upon and refined using the more advanced tracking tools already found in both PFTrack and PFMatchit. Simplicity and robustness - its the best of both worlds, in a single node.
- The Planar Camera Solver - The Planar Camera Solver node can be used to track camera paths for simple shots containing one or more planar surfaces. Roto masks and X-Splines are tracked onto planar surfaces, and then oriented in 3D space against one another to hint an initial camera position. The Planar Camera Solver then tracks the camera into the scene using the planar surfaces as the source for triangulating the camera's position frame-to-frame. If you've ever tried tracking an open field with nothing but grass to track on, the node quickly shows its strength. Its fast, easy to use, and it just works.
- Geometry Track UI (support case 4644) - Improved UI responsiveness when using heavy models. Separated mesh and camera/state data into separate metadata files and undo/redo storage.
- Dope Sheet display range - Added horizontal and vertical zooming in the Dope Sheet.
- Geometry Track focal length estimation - Improved the robustness of focal length adjustment in the Geometry Track node.
- User Track tracker window - User Tracks now update the tracker window rectangle width and height according to the scale of the affine deformation when the tracker fails or the user stops tracking.
- Error and Acceleration graphs - Added Error and Acceleration graph tabs to the Auto Track and User Track nodes (and their stereo equivalents).
- Camera solver log (support case 4319) - Added general preferences option to allow a compressed solver log to be stored in the node's meta data files.
- Replace Footage node (support case 4565) - Added Fetch button to the Auto Track node, and updated fetch functionality in both the User and Auto Track nodes so trackers can be fetched when tracking stereo clips. Also updated the Replace Footage node documentation to make it clearer how to use the node.
- Geometry render style for nodes inheriting geometry (support case 4256) - Render style is now passed down through the tree and used as the default setting for each node that does not have a render style menu.
- Show geometry toggle (support case 4179) - Added toggle to Camera Solver, Stereo Camera Solver, Mocap Solver, Object Solver, Survey Solver, Stereo Survey Solver, Target Track and Orient Scene.
- Geometry Track helper selection (support case 4465) - Updated Geometry Track UI to make it easier to activate/deactivate and set the weight for multiple helpers at the same time.
- Store tracking preset (support case 4382) - Added a preset choice box to the Auto Track node and "+" "-" buttons to create and remove presets.
- Selectable refine-options (support case 4377) - Improved the rotation solver to better handle restrictions around the rotation axes using the UI controls already available. Added axis controls for translation as well (X, Y, Z+, Z-) to prevent translation in the camera's X, Y and Z axes. Z+ allows translation away from the camera, and Z- allows translation towards the camera (all this is for moving objects only).
- Cinema view settings (support case 4181) - All nodes that allow the cinema to cycle between clip inputs will now maintain the zoom/pan setting when changing clips.
- Transformation origin selection (support case 3950) - Added an "O" button to the viewer windows that, when enabled, will change the origin of transformations according to whatever is selected in a node (such as a tracker, test object etc..). Where appropriate, holding the Shift key will rotate around the current camera position.
- X/Y/Z hotkeys for rotation manipulators - Added general keyboard shortcuts (X, Y and Z keys, no modifiers) that are understood by the manipulator to lock adjustments to a particular axis. Changed some of the default shortcuts in other nodes (Estimate Focal, Geometry Track, Orient Scene) to avoid conflicts with the new shortcuts.
- Reset pivot origin in Survey Solver node (support case 5136) - Shift clicking the Move Pivot button will now reset the pivot location to the origin, in case it has been accidentally moved to an inaccessibly location.
- File I/O Plugin architecture - API to allow file format to be developed by customers and The Pixel Farm development team. Will provide more flexibility for customer testing.
- JPEG 2000 support.
- Added default "None" edit mode to Test Object node to avoid mouse lag when panning and zooming in the cinema/viewer windows.
- Optimized mesh geometry functions to accelerate operations when using animated FBX meshes.
- Improved "Centre Object" and "Centre Pivot" functionality in Geometry Track nodes for objects with off-centre origin points.
- Optimized Geometry Track nodes when painting vertex weights and searching for vertices to pin.
- Added "Reset" button to Geometry Track nodes to reset all painted vertex weights to their default values.
- Updated docs for Stereo User Track and Stereo Auto Track nodes to make it clearer how to fetch up-stream trackers for stereo clips.
- Updated FBX geometry importer used by Geometry Track nodes to better respect the FBX transform hierarchy.
- Image Modelling tools, with full-resolution Texture Extraction, generate detailed geometry for scene fitting, shadow boxing, and set reconstruction.
- Image Modelling can be used to construct 3D polygonal models that match elements viewed by a tracked camera. A set of modelling primitives are provided that can be positioned in 3D space and edited to match the image data, or new models can be constructed by connecting 3D vertex positions to form a polygon mesh. Z-Depth can be used to estimate the distance of every pixel in an image from the camera frame, producing a grey-scale depth map image encoding z-depth, and a triangular mesh in 3D space. Texture UV maps can be created and edited for any object, and both static and animated textures can be mapped onto geometry for export.
- Major Speed Improvements
- Motion Capture Solver (Multiple Cameras)
- Extended Camera Motion Types
- Reference Frame support
- Independent Motion Group Solving
- Partial Solve Saving
- Delete camera path over a range of frames
- Auto-Mesh modeling tool
- Vertex based primitive modeling
- Full texture extraction and mapping
- Export of geometry to all major 3D systems
- When tracking a stereoscopic camera in PFTrack, auto and user features are tracked simultaneously on both the left and right eye images. When solving the camera, artists have full access to the data defining the rig including interocular distance, convergence, etc.
- Support for dual camera solve of Left and Right Eye
- Automatic calculation of Occular distance and convergence point
- Rendering of Anaglyph preview movie complete with tracking markers
- Track individual rigid moving objects
- Export object data independently of camera motion
- Already benefiting from the Enhance, Shutter Fix and rotoscoping capabilities of PFMatchit, PFTrack includes Optical Flow tools to calculate dense optical flow fields describing the apparent motion of objects relative in the camera plane. It will also retime clip and motion data to increase or decrease the apparent frame-rate of the camera.
- Extensive image processing capabilities include Shutter Fix for correcting the rolling shutter errors of footage originating from CMOS sensor cameras, Transform Clip for cropping, resizing and rotating source footage, along with a Optical Flow node for calculating and exporting dense motion fields, vector-based keyframable Retiming, unsurpassed Lens management, and a host of Enhancement functions for making footage more "trackable"
- The Mocap Solver node can be used to calibrate the motion of individual tracking points viewed from two or more camera positions. This is often used to track the motion of an actor's body or face, where tracking points have been identified using physical markers. In contrast to standard object tracking, the Mocap Solver node does not assume that the object is moving in a rigid fashion. The motion if each tracking point is completely independent and can therefore represent movement of non-rigid objects
- Geometry Tracking can be used to track either the camera or a moving object, using a triangular mesh instead of tracking points, which avoids many of the typical pitfalls that plague conventional tracking such as glints, highlights and motion blur.
- Geometry Tracking has been enhanced so that it may be used to track a deformable object like a talking face. This can be achieved by creating one or more deformable tracking groups, assigning some of the triangles in the mesh to those groups, and specifying how the groups can transform relative to the rest of the mesh.
- PFTrack's per-pixel Z-Depth supports masks to specify the relative depth ordering of objects in the scene, producing a grey-scale depth map image and triangular mesh geometry.
- Import .obj models from 3D Applications to use as tracking guides
- Per Vertex weight painting to improve tracking of complex shots
- Fast head and face replacement using imported geometry
- Track set models into footage for set extensions
- View geometry as wire frame, transparent and flat shaded modes
- Full geometry manipulation tools
- Key frame tracking for greater accuracy
- Vertex to Pixel pinning
Node-based Flowgraph Architecture
- The Tracking Tree allows artists to experiment with multiple techniques in a non-linear, non-destructive environment to achieve the most accurate solution possible.
- The Tracking Tree controls the flow of data as nodes are connected to perform all of the various tasks in PFTrack such as image processing, feature and geometry-based tracking, camera solving, image modelling and file export. Nodes may be infinitely branched allowing multiple techniques to be used to achieve the most accurate result.
Optical Flow Analysis
- Optical flow calculation algorithm
- Proxy resolution flow field support
- Brush-based flow editing tools
- Matte and feature-based flow control
- Export to floating-point and RGB images
- Option to ignore specific user/auto-features from the camera solve
- Multiple undo for features and mattes
Focal length estimation
- Intuitive 3D estimation tool
- Calculate accurate focal lengths with no camera data
- Edit any camera parameter within PFTrack and resolve quickly
- Editable visual display of Camera and Tracking errors
Integrated Z depth extraction
- Extract per pixel depth from moving images
- View pixel depth as 3D image
- User defined depth layer generation
- Export of Z depth data as gray map or mesh
X-Spline - Mask shapes may be created using X-splines, which inherently allow for quick
adjustments to the shape and smoothness of the curve, and the softness of edges.
Fuzzy Selection - Allows masks to be created based on a colour selection, and refined using
colour falloff and spacial consistency parameters.
Mask Tracking - A number of enhancements have been made to how masks can be tracked
through a sequence:
•Use pixels %: This edit box specifies the percentage of pixels used to estimate the
•Outliers %: This edit box can be used to enter the approximate number of outlier pixels
(i.e. pixels that are not actually part of the layer) when using the Robust tracking tracking
•Compensate for illumination: When enabled, small changes in image brightness will be
compensated for during tracking.
•Use robust tracking: When enabled, it is assumed that some of the pixels contains inside
the mask are not actually part of the object being tracked, and should therefore be ignored
•Use incremental tracking: When enabled, the tracking template (i.e. the image that is
being matched in each frame) will be updated at every frame.
PFBarrel for Nuke
Significantly enhances the lens workflow between The Pixel Farm's products and The Foundry's
Nuke compositing application. Lens data exported from PFTrack can be imported into Nuke
through the PFBarrel plugin, allowing all calibrated lens data to be manipulated and utilized in a
number of ways. The most obvious use of PFBarrel is to apply the dynamics of the original lens
to rendered CG layers when compositing them with the live action plate.
The Z-depth node now allows Z-depth to be calculated for a single frame, and then tracked
through the sequence to significantly accelerate the creation of depth data. The Merge tool may
then be used to analyze the calculated Z-depth, merge it across multiple frames, and produce a
smoother transition of depth values frame-to-frame.
An integrated web browser has been included which provides direct access to Software
Maintenance and Operational Support subscriptions from within the application. When support is
required, the web UI will transmit information about the workstation, along with the software
log, to assist with diagnosis of problem. Bug reports and feature requests may also be made, the
status of which will be reported back throughout the development cycle.
- Cross Platform 64-bit application environment. PFTrack is a 64-bit, GPU-accelerated application, allowing scalable performance as more robust components becomes available, while vastly improving processing speeds on modest computer hardware.
- Support for Cooke lens I-Data
- Support for Autodesk FBX and Apple Motion
- Semi automatic lens distortion correction
- Comprehensive image manipulation tools
- Ability to snap user loadable test objects to features
- Object manipulators to help position test objects
- Edit range of frames
- Improved Survey Data management
- Improved matte editing functionality
- Matte-feature attachment
- Improved image manipulation algorithms
- Support for graphics tablets
- Improved calibration algorithm, giving more accurate calibrations of difficult shots
- Motion capture for matchmoving non-rigid objects
- Survey data points to assist calibration of measured scenes
- Feature grouping to manage exported data points
- Planar and linear feature constraints in bundle adjustment
- Improved feature tracking engine
- Improved free-motion camera calibration engine
- Per-camera and per-feature statistics (numerical and graph), to help clean up calibration data.
- Improved batch manager progress reports
- On-screen cache indicator, and improved frame caching algorithm
- Improved Shake support, with corner-pin script export
- Per-user-feature footage brightness/contrast/etc.. manipulations
- Image de-noise functions for improved tracking of noisy footage
- Accelerated footage import and playback
- Reduced memory usage when auto-tracking long shots
- Improved Batch Processing
- Render an Open GL preview to disk
- Full Mac OS X 10.5 support
- Added stereo graphics output support
- Added thickness, erode/dilate and threshold controls to mask editor
- Added positon value overlay when manipulating test objects
- Added control to specify how test objects are rendered
- Added interaction mode in test object node to set object's origin
- Added a lower limit to memory cache size
- Added missing documentation for "Point" tracker constraint in the camera solver node
- Added 'close' button to project panel
- Added an override to project version check
- Added safety check to mocap solver
- Updated RED SDK to version 4.1
- Optimized search for EXIF focal length data when creating a camera
- Improved compound node support
- Optimized clip import by only checking the first frame for valid EXIF header data
- Key up/down scrolls through items in dope sheet
- Stereo camera solver node now sets lookat distance according to convergence, so look at position in FBX export will match convergence point
- Fixed occasional issue with cached lens distortion ROI data being incorrectly sized for the camera
- Fixed Maya Ascii export python script to remove additional ";" that can cause problems when importing large meshes into Maya (support case 4135)
- Improved documentation of python nodes
- Extended range of files that are considered quicktime to include avi
- Documentation changes to clarify stereo monitor support chapter
- Updated processing of exceptions for OpenEXR files
- Added "Rec" button to F-curve editor to record a copy of the current curves and display them in the background for comparison purposed whilst editing.
- Allow LIDAR data sets to be shared between projects.
- Updated LIDAR support in Survey Solver node to allow multiple LIDAR data files to be imported into a single node and enabled/disabled as necessary.
- Added support to Export node for saving a sequence of animated OBJ files.
- Added popup window to Image Modelling node allowing the user to specify which group of trackers to use to build a "Trackers" modelling primitive.
- Added frame offset to FBX import windows to adjust keyframe ranges before importing a take.
- Added a License Manager process to allow for the easier management of licensing (which requires a new version of PFLic if floating licenses are used).
- Added ROI for mask tracking.
- Ability to view the training zone videos from within the application.
- Features disabled in the PLE version now contain a link to the product page on the The Pixel Farm website.
- Prevented 360 degree Euler rotation flips in Nuke export script (support case 5569).
- Updated FBX importer to report when it cannot read a file before displaying the FBX take selection window (support case 5546).
- Worked around issues with the FBX SDK on Windows that can cause crashes when trying to export deformable geometry using a vertex point cache (support case 5422).
- Updated Edit Camera node to display keyframes in blue and in-out points in yellow (instead of the other way around, which can obscure the frame numbering for long sequences).
- Fixed bug in CPU version of the optical flow algorithm that can cause inaccurate flow fields to be generated.
- Bugfix; version checking not working properly.
- Updated X-Spline mask drawing mode so newly placed vertices stick at the initial click position instead of following the mouse.
- Fixed clip initialization to ensure an attempt is made to guess a suitable default camera preset.
- Added warning popup to Export node that appears when trying to export a shot containing deformable geometry or meshes with independently animated vertices using a format that do not support such features.
- Updates to HTML docs for export and image modelling nodes.
- Export node UI label update.
- Updated Nuke python export script to ensure solved trackers in a non-camera group are exported over the group frame range instead of the tracker frame range.
- Fixed minor UI layout issue in Texture UV Editor window.
- Updates to Python script API documentation.
- Bugfix. EXR export timecode handling incorrect (support case 5588).
Specifications & Licensing
- Minimum(SD Resolution):2GB of RAM (more is recommended for caching high resolutions and longer frame durations)
- Recommended(2K+ Resolution): Display with 1920-by-1080 resolution or higher
- OS: Apple OSX 10.5 or newer, Microsoft Windows7 x64, Vista x64 or newer, Linux x64 5.x or newer (CentOS, RHEL, Fedora, SuSE)
- Graphics *ATI or NVIDIA graphics processor with 512MB VRAM (ATI only supported under OSX)
- QuickTime 7.6 or later required for compressed media workflows
- 1GB of disk space required
Open and Extensible File formats
Export 2D or 3D feature tracking data in a simple Open XML file format for easy integration into existing workflow and bespoke tools.
Export To Pixel Farm Plug-ins:
a. Pixel Farm .pbp for PFBarn
b. Pixel Farm .led for PFBarrel
c. Pixel Farm .cam for PFStable
3D camera export plug-ins provide data export to a wide range of software packages, including:
b. Alias Wavefront Maya (MEL script and Maya Ascii format)
c. Discreet 3DS Max Script
d. Discreet Combustion
e. Discreet Flame/Inferno
f. Side Effects Houdini
g. Newtek Lightwave
h. Electric Image
i. Kuper Controls Motion Controller
j. Adobe After Effects
k. Apple Shake
n. Autodesk FBX
o. Apple Motion
Import any number of test objects using the .obj file format
Supported image/movie formats:
Cineon, DPX, SGI RGB, Targa, PNG, TIFF, JPEG etc.
IFF for Maya and Shake
Quicktime movie support on Windows and OS X platforms
AVI movie support on Windows platforms
SGI, Quicktime, AVI and MPEG support on SGI platforms.
For Node-locked or Floating:
Software and licenses are delivered via email. After downloading and installation, launching PFTrack will generate a "PFHostID", that ID is needed to generate licenses.
Pixel Farm License server (PFLic) is required to serve licenses on the network. Compatible with Windows, OS X and Linux, PFLic uses very little resources.
Upgrades / Support
The Pixel Farm offers the following Upgrades and Support options:
The Pixel Farm Maintenance
As of January of 2012, The Pixel Farm has changed their maintenance plan.
Software Maintenance is now based on the calendar year from Jan 01-XX to Dec 31-XX. of each year.
The Pixel Farm now has two maintenance offerings. Software "maintenance subscription" and "Operational support subscription" (Phone support)
In order to receive the latest version of Pixel Farm software you will have to be covered by the new software maintenance agreement.
*Subscription term is January 1st through December 31st of the current calendar year regardless of the date the subscription is commenced.
**A Software Maintenance Subscription must be active for each license to be upgraded.
Software "Maintenance Subscription" (upgrades only)
Included free for each "new license" for one calendar year, The Software Maintenance Subscription provides access to all software releases for the current calendar year.* You'll benefit from ongoing product development delivered in not one, but four quarterly feature releases, in addition to maintenance releases that will be issued as required.**
Also included is access to The Pixel Farm User Forums, a great place for artists to network, share ideas and techniques, and seek answers to commonly asked questions.
*Subscription term is January 1st through December 31st of the current calendar year regardless of the date the subscription is commenced.
**A Software Maintenance Subscription must be active for each license to be upgraded.
"Operational Support Subscription" (phone support)
The Pixel Farm Support Team will assist users with everything from gaining a better understanding of the tools themselves, though advice on the most efficient and effective ways to address the artistic challenges of a particular shot. A fixed annual fee will provide access, irrespective of the number of licenses owned, and covers the latest versions of the entire Pixel Farm product line.**
In addition to software assistance, the Operational Support Subscription provides access to The Pixel Farm Training Zone - a video and print learning library being developed by The Farmers themselves to deliver training materials, tips and tricks, and other technical tidbits.
30-90 Day rentals available for PFTrack
PFTrack is compatible with the following applications:
- Adobe AfterEffects
- Apple Shake
- Apple Motion
- Autodesk 3ds Max
- Autodesk Maya
- Autodesk Softimage
- Autodesk Sparks
- Newtek Lightwave
- The Foundry Nuke
Available for educational institutes and students.
- For Educational institutions, multi-seat license discounts available, contact RFX for details.
- All educational licenses are good for 12-months after purchase
- A copy of student / faculty photo ID is required
Training / Resources
Go to The Pixel Farm website (www.thepixelfarm.co.uk) for online forums, manuals and tutorials