2D Tracking for Compositing in Blender

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of working with Wes and Jonathan over at CGCookie. I’d known them for at least a year or so at that point, after having approached Jonathan at Siggraph to let him know that I had gotten started with Blender by following the great tutorials over at BlenderCookie. After they invited me to do some tutorials for them, we decided on a comprehensive 2D tracking course.

I had a couple reasons for wanting to do a 2D tracking course. Of course I was tempted to jump right into the deep end and do some kind of complex vfx scene, but if we did that, I’d have to explain a lot of the tracking as the training progressed. Not only tracking, but other basic skills, like rotoscoping, would slow us down. Tracking and rotoscoping are important enough to warrant focused training on their own. So I thought it best to start with tracking. This course was the beginning of that foundation.

Tracking really is one of the most fundamental things every compositor needs to know, as almost everything we do involves tracking of some type. I would even argue it’s more fundamental than rotoscoping, because rotoscoping can be made much less tedious by knowing how to track things.

The tutorial went up and got a great response. However, when Wes, Jonathan, and the rest of the gang decided to redesign CGCookie from the ground up, this tracking course got filed away into the archives, where it can be download for free. Everything in the course is still extremely relevant, so I asked them if I could repost it here. They graciously approved.

Those guys are great, and the new CGCookie is fantastic. They did a great job redesigning the site and setting up the learning flows, and they are the main reason I will be sticking to visual effects and not covering all of Blender in general. There’s no way I could do it better than they have.

So here is my 2D Tracking for Compositing in Blender course. It’s about 2½ hours of training in total. As I tried to make clear in the title, it does not cover 3D camera solving or matchmoving. This course only deals with tracking from a compositor’s point of view. If you know how to track already in other programs, this is a great course to get up to speed with doing it all in Blender. And if you plan on following other tutorials that I’ll be making here at OpenVisualFX, chances are they’re always going to involve tracking, so knowing this is essential.

The download links below do not work anymore, but the course is viewable for FREE over at CG Cookie


These videos and accompanying files are only offered for download, not for streaming, since I’m just linking to CGCookie’s archives.

(And speaking of rotoscoping, that’s going to be the next big, comprehensive course I release here. Although that one won’t be free.)

Tracking Tools

Tutorial 1 – Tracking Tools – This video goes over the specific tools in Blender for tracking, and covers some of the basic concepts of how to track things.

Assets required:

Single Point Tracking

Tutorial 2 – Single Point Tracking – Here we start to get into some real tracking. Some knowledge of Blender’s compositor may be useful. Also, in this video, I create mattes in 3D rather than using rotoscoping. This is because I plan to cover rotoscoping at great depth in a later course, and did not want to introduce it here.

Assets required:

Offset Tracking

Tutorial 3 – Offset tracking – How to continue tracking a feature that goes off-screen.

Assets required:

Two Point Tracking

Tutorial 4 – Two Point Tracking – Two point tracking lets you track rotation and scale along with position. Having that data lets you match still image or other pieces of footage to the same movement. The example shown in this tutorial uses 3D functions, including a bone which deforms to match the trackers. This technique is slightly outdated, and you can see a better way to do the same thing in Tutorial 6.

Assets required:

Four Point Tracking

Tutorial 5 – Four Point Tracking – Also known as corner pinning, we’ll go over how to use the plane tracking tools to replace a poster, and also use the 3D features to accomplish the same thing.

Assets required:

Two Point Tracking Update

Tutorial 6 – Two Point Tracking Update – A better way to track  a still image into a plate, with some simple compositing to blend the new sky into the scene.

Assets required:


  1. Hi Sean. Thank you a lot for putting up this blog and sharing your knowledge and experience.

    I was always interested in pratical insight into compositing and you are providing just that. Having this combined with Open/Free tools is also very welcome.

    I have already seen Sebastian Königs ‘Match, Track, Blend’ series on blender cloud, so I am really looking forward to see the techniques you are using in your turorials.

    BTW, I am also looking very much forward to any Natron videos you might be releasing.

    Again, thanks a lot for your effort and all the best for openvisualfx.

  2. Hi Sean,

    Thank you so much for sharing…It is much appreciated. I’m looking forward to any more tutorials you have up your sleeve 🙂

  3. Hey Sean,
    I’ve been waiting for a long time to see your techniques. This is really great stuff. I’ll be staying close to the site looking forward to what comes next. Thank you for posing these. Cheers!

  4. hi Sean i always come back to these tutorials for blender tracking to refresh my memory on the techniques these are 1st class

    If you get a chance there is one burning question ive had for some while i cant seem to find a solution to tracking a bus poster/plane that goes offscreen – i attempted the older method of offset tracking and going thru the blender 3d but Ive not succeeded yet – is that the best direction would you say as I suspect the plane track is not able to offset track

    1. That’s definitely a trickier thing to do, especially if the 3D camera solve isn’t working for you. There should be a way to cheat it, but it may involve some creative hand tracking and guessing. If you could upload a compressed movie or a couple of still frames that show the movement of what you are tracking, I’d be happy to take a look at it. Send it to me through the Contact Me page, that goes directly to my personal email.

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