Lockdown is the original and best plug-in that allows you to track warping surfaces inside After Effects. Perfect for beauty retouching and other previously difficult cleanup jobs!
Lockdown is a revolutionary plug-in that allows you to track warping surfaces inside After Effects.
What’s new in Lockdown 2.1?
Lockdown 2 has been officially released as Lockdown 2.1. One of the features we’ve included is the ability to trim tracks using masks or an alpha channel. Please keep a close eye on the home page. We have a ton more features and changes coming very soon, and will keep the home page up to date. The tutorials have been split up into smaller tasks, and will be replaced the same day as release, as each feature changes.
Now with an insanely accurate tracker in v1.6.1!
This plugin is a game-changer for VFX work in After Effects. Never before could you track warping surfaces so easily!
Please try the free demo before purchasing to make sure it works for your purposes. Please note that we only officially support After Effects 2019 and above.
To use the Plug-in, please follow the instructions labeled 1-9 in both the script and Plug-in. Start by opening the script under Window/Lockdown.jsxbin. Select the layer you’d like to track, then press button 1.
1) Pre-composing and setting up your footage/composition for tracking
The layer that Lockdown is applied to, and the Composition that layer is in, must have the same resolution and framerate for Lockdown to work. If you aren’t 100% sure how to set that up on your own, just press the Pre-compose button at the top of the plugin. The script will pre-compose your layer and set everything inside the pre-comp to all the correct settings, and you can work with Lockdown in there.
2) Optional Tracking Filter
This optional button applies effects that sometimes allow our tracker better identify textures. It’s basically an edge-detect with a lot of contrast. You should be in 16 or 32-bit mode when using this filter. Running a denoiser on the original footage, and again on the final result also improves trackability. This is great for a shot where lighting is changing, because it brings out details in cracks and surfaces, and tends to ignore larger gradients. It’s great for faces, where there is tons of detail to be tracked in the pores of the skin. Without the filter, the tracking points may follow shadows and highlights sliding across the face, rather than the skin. With this filter, they will lock onto pores and skin details. Keep in mind this filter becomes far less effective with compressed video, like mp4. This video explains:
Click “Popout” to enter the Popout tracker. Layers are DISABLED in the first release of Lockdown 2.0.0, and will be enabled after the first round of testing. Control click to create points, control-click and drag to create a grid of points. Press “Track All” to track the points. Press “Auto Triangulate” to generate a mesh.
4) Improving on automatic tracking
Track Adjustment: When a point drifts away from it’s target, click and drag it to put it back in place. Adjustment keyframes are an additional layer of animation that adds on top of your base track. It’s a very fast way to fix drifts.
Track refinement: Refinement is for when Adjustment isn’t enough, and you have to deal with a track that’s going in the completely wrong direction. it’s a hugely important concept, please see this video:
To launch Track refinement, just press “Track All” again after making adjustments to a point’s position. Track refinement takes all of your adjustment points, and tries to re-track the entire shot and find a smooth track that considers and passes between all of your adjustment points.
If you’re confused, here’s a summary on Track Adjustment:
If a point slips or strays from where it’s supposed to be, drag it back to where it should be.
Hit Track All, which launches refinement. It should improve your track because now it has more adjustment point data to use.
Watch the shot for additional slips.
Repeat as necessary.
Deleting bad data: A simple principle for Lockdown is that a track should never exist when it’s not visibly covering the point it’s representing. So in plain english, if I’m tracking a brick on a wall, and a car goes in front of the wall, that tracking point should be “Dead” and without keyframes when it’s not visible anymore, and has been covered by the car. You can use “Delete Left Keyframes” and “Delete Right Keyframes” to terminate tracks left and right in time, so they only exist when the feature you’re tracking is visible. All of our tracking algorithms and interpolation systems rely on the concept that your tracking points only exist over visible features. A tracking point that is tracking your feature, then on later frames, covering something else entirely different will confuse the tracker.
Tracking behind overlapping objects: Any pixels lower than 50% opacity will terminate any tracks that they touch. The best way to deal with an overlapping object, is to create an adjustment point before the obstruction, another adjustment point after the obstruction, then press “Track All”. Turn on “Interpolate Partial Tracks” so overlapped points can move predictably where they have no keyframes.
5) Customizing a mesh
Sometimes it makes sense to draw your mesh manually, to conform to natural borders in your shot. The geometry on the left may deform better than the geometry on the right, especially when the mouth opens, or when imported into a 3D application.
Select a point, then Ctrl-Shift-Click another point to connect the two with an edge.
Alt-click an edge to delete it.
Alt-shift-click and drag to draw a line which deletes all edges in its path.
Auto-Triangulate Mesh will triangulate all points can, but will NOT bisect any quads. (This is good because quads render better than triangles in 3D software)
Clear Mesh will remove the entire mesh.
Sometimes a point leaves the frame, or is covered by another object, and is no longer visible.
You can expand your mesh outside the boundaries of the object with extension points too:
7) Locking down your mesh and applying a texture
This button sets up a texture to apply to your mesh.
It creates a “Lockdown Graphics Composition” with a stabilized copy of your mesh inside, and a still frame of the frame you’ve chosen to stick graphics to. It creates a checkerboard for preview purposes. The stabilized layer is created as a non rendering guide layer.
It places this composition in the Lockdown Graphics Comp slot to reference the texture.
It duplicates your layer as a background layer.
If you’re applying graphics, just drop graphics into the stabilized pre-comp. If you’re painting the layer, you should apply paint directly to the stabilized video layer inside the Lockdown Pre-comp. You must first make it not a guide layer, this video explains why:
This undoes the Lockdown process, allowing you to refine tracking points.
Please note that if you Lockdown, then UnLockdown a shot, you must press Lockdown on the same frame you had originally, or the graphics will not match. Pressing Lockdown chooses the current frame as the projection frame, so it’s important to keep track of that.
This is automatically set by the Plug-in and script, you should never have to think about it. However, for advanced users, it simply toggles whether the mesh is stabilized or moved. Useful if you change a few tracking points on your stabilized comp, then want to copy and paste your Lockdown effect to your un-stabilized comp. You can just paste then toggle Stabilized to off.
This shows and hides your points and mesh. The Plugin will turn this off when you apply the mesh, it’s purely a feature for checking the integrity of your tracking points, and the shape of your mesh.
Shows and hides edges, when your mesh is visible.
Sized in Pixels, how large the points render as part of the layer.
Select All Points
Selects all points, both externalized, and internalized, in the shot. Most of the time this button is used, it’s to select everything, then internalize all points before mesh building.
Internalize Selected Points
This puts all the points INSIDE the plug-in away, from your view. This is going to make every step of working with Lockdown faster. Tracked points are internalized by default.
Externalize Selected Points
This takes your selected points, and exposes them as normal position keyframes at the bottom of the Lockdown Plug-in, under the “Externalized Points” dropdown. You should only ever externalize points when you notice errors in the track and want to modify them. Whenever you’re done editing points and want to start building a mesh, re-internalize them. It’s not recommended to use expressions with these points, or connect them to outside rigging, at this point it’s something we haven’t tested. We are currently allowing externalized points to be used as part of a mesh with the hopes that eventually this will become advantageous, but please just internalize your points in all normal situations.
This removes all geometry so you can attempt triangulation, or manual construction, on another frame. This button also turns the rendered points back on so you can visually reassess your track.
You are given 4 total points which you can manually edit within the typical After Effects graph editor. This used to be 500, but we found that it was causing significant slow down with user interaction speeds.
To get points in from Mocha, you can paste the four corner position data into the externalized points. Upon pasting, an externalized point will be created. Again, please internalize these as soon as possible.
Internal Keyframe time ref
This is a reference keyframe. A big problem with Lockdown’s internalized keyframes is that they are ‘oblivious’ to what timecode they should appear at. Whenever you track, Lockdown takes this keyframe, and places it at the in-point of the shot. All the internal keyframes look at this keyframe and say “I should appear x frames after this reference keyframe” in order to stay in sync with the rest of the project. Please note that you should never have to touch or think about this parameter if you use the script and follow the steps from 1-9. The most common place this may be useful is if you’re conforming color footage, and the timecode changes on a clip when you do a footage swap. For a simple example:
You track some raw footage which is 45 seconds long. Your in-point is at 30 seconds in. When you track, Lockdown places the “internal keyframe time ref” here, at your in-point. Now you receive some new footage back from a colorist, but it’s only 10 seconds long. If you paste Lockdown to the color footage, the timecode isn’t the same, so Lockdown doesn’t know which frames it’s keyframes should be on. You can find the same exact frame in the color footage, and slide this “internal keyframe time ref” to its position, and now the tracking will match exactly, even though the timecode is different.
How do I install Lockdown 1.7 or 2.0 using the aescripts manager app?
When you buy the Plugin (or get a temp license), you’ll get access to a code that looks something like this: VRL*YOUR*NAME*LOTSOFLETTERSANDNUMBERS
Apply the Plug-in to a layer, then at the top of Lockdown, press “register”. Paste this code in, and press activate. The watermark will still be there. To clear it, go to the After Effects Menu “Edit/Purge/All Memory & Disk Cache”. This forces Lockdown to re-render, this time without any grid.
“Unable to execute script at line Error”
This is the result of a bad install, because Lockdown 1.4 shouldn’t have a JSXBIN script file at all. That file was part of Lockdown 1.3 and earlier. Please clean up your installation with this video, then run Lockdown using this tutorial.
The “UnLockdown” button breaks my Lockdown 1.4 projects, when opening with Lockdown 1.5.
Please either shut off your stabilized footage layer inside the stabilized pre-comp, or add a 4 pixel simple choker to it. Effect/Matte/Simple Choker. This video shows how to solve the problem. Fixing this is somewhere on our to-do list, but honestly it’s very low priority because a comp fix is so easy. Sorry for the inconvenience, we figured you would rather we focus on faster and more accurate tracking.
How do I deal with overlapping objects and occlusion?
How do I get motion blur on my shot with Lockdown?
Please use the effect “CC Force Motion Blur” after Lockdown. Shut off “override shutter”. Turn motion blur on for the layer, and in the composition. In the composition settings, make sure the shutter phase is (shutter angle * -.5). CC Force Motion Blur with Lockdown.
Make sure your project is set to 32 bit mode at all times of the process.
Keep to the default After Effects project file with default colorspace settings.
Make sure your composition background color is Black when rendering the vectors.
Make sure to “Preserve RGB” on the vectors when importing.
Ensure you dont’ have a variable framerate video clip.
nsure your composition is the same framerate and resolution as your video, with no position or scale offsets.
My points slowly side to the bottom left or top right at a steady pace. They are not tracking the object.
There is a bug where when the composition window is at half resolution, or anything other than full resolution, Lockdown’s Vector Tracker will push the pixels double the distance because it’s seeing the resolution as half of what the vectors are written to. Please set the Composition Window to Full resolution, and shut off fast previews, Adaptive Resolution, etc… The place points and track again.
How do I get tracking data into Lockdown from Mocha?
This new tutorial explains an easier way to import points from Mocha. Watch it here at 2:28. (Please note that in Lockdown 1.4, there are only 4 externalized tracking points. You must internalize the mocha points after every import.)
How do I extend my mesh to wider than I was able to track?
I want to make a mesh larger than my actual video, that extends off my frame. Can I do that?
Lockdown 2.0 can place points outside of the composition, but you can’t place textures there. Lockdown is limited to the bounds of the composition. There is a relatively easy workaround. Let’s say you have 1920×1080 footage. After running out 1) pre-compose script, go into that composition. Set the resolution of the composition much higher, perhaps 3000×2000. Now take that layer (delete the Lockdown instance on it.) and pre-compose that layer “moving all attributes”. Now place Lockdown on that composition, which is 3000×2000. You can now track THAT composition. If you don’t do this correctly, things will go bad very quickly.
How do I create a log file?
Please watch this video. Log files contain a record you can send to us, that tells us basically everything that happened since you opened Lockdown, until you closed it. It makes it much easier for us to find bugs. Please make sure to delete the log folder after sending us the log, because the log file will get very very large over time if you keep the folder. Basically, if the folder exists, the log file is created and written to. If not, the log file is not created or written to. So you don’t want the log folder to exist for any longer than it needs to be.
Lockdown turns a clip black, and nothing works
Please make sure you’re using the CURRENT version of After Effects. We built Lockdown with the 2019 API, so it’s a guarantee 2018 and earlier will not work at all. We keep it up to date with the latest version of Ae.
Some users report they have to update their graphics card drivers to get Lockdown working. More troubling, some Nvidia users claim GeForce experience says it’s up to date, but they had to go to the Nvidia website to manually update drivers before Lockdown would work. Our team on Lockdown updates our graphics drivers immediately, so to minimize the chance of rendering errors, please stay up to date with your drivers.
I have a problem not listed here, can you help me?
We can sure try. All the help tickets for this product regarding technique are answered us, the creators of Lockdown. If you send us footage that poses unique challenges from every other video listed above, we can test it. That being said, we have a policy to ONLY send back screen recordings of your project for guidance, we will never send back any project files, no exceptions. We answer help tickets to assist you, and to improve Lockdown, but the help ticket systems is not a way for us to complete your projects. Please make sure you have all necessary permissions before sending a project file. You can open a help ticket here.
After Effects 2021, 2020, CC 2019
2.1.0 (Current version) – Apr 27, 2021
Finalized and stabilized popout tracker for official out-of-beta release.
Added a functionality that uses frame’s alpha channel as a “dead-zone” mask during tracking.
Added three guide points (triangle) interpolation.
Adjustment now acts more like an animation layer system, or parent system. Dragging a single adjustment down 10 pixels will move the entire track down 10 pixels. Simplifying this feels more intuitive.
Interpolation is possible between keyframe gaps.
All new points are created with adjustment points, to preserve the exact position on that frame.
Points are rendering with semi-transparent color if they don’t have keyframe for the timestamp (visible if seleted or “hide non-moving tracks” is switched off).
Adjustment points are not created when selecting a point.
Render pipeline changes for efficiency and future features.
Adjustments are always taken into account to calculate the coordinates of a point, therefor improving interpolation.
Fixed UI controls scaling issues for large display scales.
Popout UI responsivenes during tracking is fixed.
Fixed a bug with tracker stopping after losing all points.
1.7.0 – Jan 29, 2021
Added a new point interpolation method to better handle rotation of objects.
Shutting off “Interpolate partial tracks” when pressing track buttons.
Fixed possible crashes.
1.6.1 – Dec 21, 2020
Further updated the accuracy and speed of the default tracker in Lockdown.
Added a new parameter for tracking “Tracking Scale” which has a few effects on tracking. Generally the larger it is, the more it will favor large textures and large motions, and ignore small noise patterns. The larger it gets, the slower the processing is.
1.6.0 – Nov 28, 2020
Added quad based mesh smoothing.
Added adjustments point refinement (integrated into “Track All”).
New tracking mode – Accurate 1.6.
Lockdown now creates a quad based mesh upon click and drag.
When triangulating, extra long connections are disconsidered.
Edges can now be disabled from view.
Adjustment points are now always preserved, even during baking operations.
Other quality improvements.
1.5.7 – Nov 11, 2020
Fixes a minor bug where the Lockdown button may not work if the layer has opacity keyframes on it, in the latest After Effects build.
1.5.6 – Oct 1, 2020
Fixed a bug that may cause a crash when using Lockdown with a track matte.
1.5.5 – Sep 8, 2020
Added mesh export/import to/from Alembic format.
Added keyboard shortcuts for some frequently used actions.
Record move information in the log file.
Full vector setup sets sequence background to black, other colors lead to wrong tracking results.
Points are added and moved with sub-pixel accuracy now
1.5.4 – Jul 3, 2020
-Added “Track Left” and “Track Right” buttons to preview tracked points in real time.
-Fixed a bug where tracking may not work after pressing “escape”.
1.5.3 – Jun 12, 2020
Fixed an upload issue.
1.5.2 – Jun 12, 2020
Fixed a crash when dragging points on machines with certain graphics cards.
1.5.1 – Jun 10, 2020
Fixed a bug that may prevent Lockdown from working with non-English language versions of After Effects.
Removed a filter that prevents points from being created too close to each other. You can now overlap points at your own discretion.
Fixed an issue where Lockdown would track incorrectly if the composition viewer was at less than full resolution.
1.5.0 – Jun 8, 2020
Added the ability to extend existing tracks.
Changed the composition structure to include a Lockdown Graphics comp, which allows the user to easily UnLockdown a composition.
Fixed potential GPU compatibility issues.
Removed influence of adjustment points to interpolated points. Everything will update faster now.
Fixed a bug where the message “Lockdown Effect must remain selected…” may appear frequently without need.
1.4.2 – May 18, 2020
Fixed a bug that would cause points to not render on some AMD graphics cards, particularly those on Mac Pro systems.
Put a clamp on colors in 32-bit mode, to prevent over-bright or over-dark artifacts.
Removed “min frame count for each track” parameter, which was useless with the newly improved tracker.
moved “merge points” button to a more logical location next to tracking buttons.
Removed anti-aliasing toggle. Recent performance improvements made it reasonable to keep it always on, and never need to turn it off.
Changed the point creation lasso color to blue. This helps users know if the control/cmd key is pressed when lassoing.
1.4.1 – Apr 30, 2020
Greatly improved interactive speeds
Added “alt-shift drag” delete edge tool
Added Delete Adjustment Point button
Changed adjustment point keyframes to render as crosshairs, and as empty circles when near a keyframe in time.
now internalizes the entire track when importing from Mocha, to make room for further mocha imports.
Sets and adjustment point keyframe anytime a point is selected or tracked.
Fixed “Something went wrong” precompose error.
Added “bake keyframes button”
Set “min frame count” parameter to 0 by default, (meaning infinite).
Fixed a bug in which changing one instance of Lockdown may make temporary visual changes during the duration of the click and drag to other instances of Lockdown.
1.4 – March 31, 2020
How do I upgrade to Lockdown 1.4? Please follow this video.Please note that 500 Externalized Points are no longer supported in Lockdown 1.4. We only allow 4 because we recently discovered 500 would effect click and drag responsiveness. If you have 1.3 installed, please internalize all points for all Lockdown instances, then save your project before installing Lockdown 1.4.
Added vector tracking
Added click and drag to adjust track points
Added lasso tool to create and delete points
Improved overall performance with many points.
Prevents points from being created too close to each other.
Added possibility to work with temporary licenses
Installation of Lockdown.jsxbin is not needed anymore, all the functionality is moved inside the plugin.
Reduced Externalized point count from 500 down to 4. This was to increase interactive speeds.
Fixed some cases when new points could not be automatically triangulated to the existing mesh
1.3.0 – Feb 25, 2020
Added a new default tracking mode “Accurate”. This mode significantly improves automatic tracking, and makes the “option tracking filter” no longer necessary.
Renamed the old tracker “Fast”, under Tracking Engine.
Moved all point and line rendering to the render thread, burned into the image. This is so your points and lines remain strictly in sync with your footage, so it’s easier to tell which points are tracking well, and which aren’t.
Added “merge tracks” button.
Added Anti-aliasing checkbox for geometry edges, points, and lines.
Made minor text updates to the Plug-in in the Effects Control Window.
When a stabilized mesh is ‘applied’ points will automatically not render. This is because you likely only want to see points while tracking them.
Updated Mac Catalina notarization.
Fixed a bug in which an externalized point keyframe may be off on the first frame.
Fixed a bug in which changing the in or out point of a shot may de-sync tracking points.
Here is a set of 3 tutorials for Lockdown for After Effects. The first is a brief intro if you need to learn and use Lockdown fast. The second tutorial goes in depth and covers everything you need to know about using Lockdown, and the 3rd explains how to get tracking data from Mocha into Lockdown.
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