BASIC Screen Replacement with Mocha & After Effects CC

by Garrett Fallin on March 24, 2015


One very common visual effect is the screen replacement. You see this in movies, TV shows, commercials, corporate videos, music videos, documentaries – you name it. The screen is replaced with an alternative image or video, most commonly on televisions, computer screens, etc. Now, phone and tablet screens are becoming more common.

I will show you how to create this effect in three simple steps:

  • Set up your new comp in After Effects CC
  • Import and track screen in Mocha AE
  • Export data and finish comp in After Effects


First you will need two different pieces of footage – one is the source video clip of the screen that is going to be tracked and replaced.

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And the other is the image or video that you plan to comp on top of the screen.


Go to COMPOSITION > NEW COMP (Hotkey is COMMAND+N) – create the parameters needed for your source clip (time, fps, size, etc.). Drag your footage into the comps timeline, making sure to keep your screen replacement footage layered on top. For now, you can keep the visibility turned off (click the EYE icon next to the later to toggle visibility).

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We are now ready to send your footage into Mocha AE, to do that simply highlight your source footage in the layers panel and go to ANIMATION > TRACK IN MOCHA AE. If you’ve never opened mocha AE before, it will ask you if you want to register the product (feel free to fill this out or simply hit ‘register later’). You will then see a projects panel where you will notice your source clip is already loaded in for frame rate, duration, and title. Hit OK to confirm these settings.

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Using the X Spline tool you will be creating a shape around the screen you want to replace.

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To use this tool, simply click and you will place an anchor point in your shape. The shape we want will have four anchor points – one around each corner of the screen we want to replace. When you connect back with the first anchor point, your shape will close and be complete.

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Below the viewer you will find the track options.

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Go ahead and choose TRACK FOWARD allowing Mocha to track the screen using the X spline shape you drew.

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Across the top toll bar you will find a square icon with an ‘S’ in the middle (hovering over the shape will reveal ‘show planar surface’), select this, and you will notice a blue box has appeared within our X spline shape.

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This blue box will dictate where the corner pin data will place your image or video in relation to replacing the screen. At this point, grab each corner of the blue box and line it up with the edge of the screen. When you are finished, you can test how the border looks by going to the left INSERT CLIP drop down menu and selecting one of the grid layouts.

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To export this track data and use it back in After Effects, locate EXPORT TRACKING DATA in the lower part of the screen, select it, and use the drop down menu to locate the option AFTER EFFECTS CORNER PIN [SUPPORTS MOTION BLUR]. Finish by choosing COPY TO CLIPBOARD.

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Back in After Effects you can turn the visibility back on for the image or video you will be using to comp on top of the screen. Have the image or video selected in the layer panel and choose EDIT > PASTE. The Mocha AE track data that was copied to the clipboard will be pasted into the image or video and correlate all the corner pin needed for a successful comp.

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You will notice the image or video will not be comped correct over the screen after you paste the corner pin data. To fix this, highlight the image or video in the layer panel and hit ‘A’ to bring up the anchor point. From here you will need to use the axis sliders to move the image or video into place.

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Lower Third Tutorial Round-Up

by kesakalaonu on March 14, 2015

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Lower thirds, supers or CGs as they are also called, are those graphics you see on the screen when someone is being identified. You see them on reality television, the news, sports games, and documentaries. They usually have one to three tiers which can have the person’s first and last name at the top, and at the bottom, an occupation, residency, or position they occupy. Another characteristic of lower thirds is that they are placed in the title safe area of the screen so they don’t get cut off (these are usually network specifications). One thing about lower thirds is that they are by far the most sold item on motion graphics marketplaces. You could go to a variety of sites and look at galleries of lower thirds which you can purchase for your own videos. However, you may not always have the luxury of purchasing lower thirds, so it helps to know how to create these from scratch to keep costs down. In the three videos below, I highlight tutorials for how to create lower thirds from scratch for programs such as After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Motion. After you take a look at these videos, you can apply some of the knowledge you’ve learned and get to creating your lower third graphics.

Lower Third (After Effects) Tutorial

In this After Effects tutorial, Phil Ebiner shows us how he creates simple and clean lower thirds. As he states in the tutorial, he looks to other sites for inspiration before he starts creating. Utilizing a combination of solids, masks, and shape layers, he is able to create a lower third that would work in just about any occasion. When creating lower thirds, it takes a lot of layers to achieve the ideal look so be prepared for using precompositions, parenting, and lots of keyframes to maintain a clean and organized timeline.  What I like about this tutorial is that it has nice pacing, and within less than 20 minutes, you can have a lower third that can be used and modified to your needs. If you are using After Effects CC, you can turn this lower third into a LiveText template for use in Premiere Pro. If you aren’t as skilled in After Effects and prefer Motion instead, you can learn to create lower thirds there as well.

Lower Third (Motion 5) Tutorial

In this Motion 5 tutorial, author HalfGlassFull shows us how to create a complex lower third for broadcast. He first sets up his placeholder text layers in the position he wants. From there, he begins creating different shapes as a background for the text layers. Once he sets up the design of the lower third, he begins to implement behaviors to animate elements of the lower third to his liking. To finish it off, he shows you how to publish the lower third for use in Final Cut Pro X. Overall, this is an easy to follow tutorial and really helps reduce the learning curve that some people may have when using Motion for the first time. Also, the ease at which Motion projects can be integrated into Final Cut Pro X for multiple uses. As great as it is to create lower thirds in graphics programs like After Effects and Motion, sometimes you want the ability to do it without leaving your NLE. Let’s see how to do this in Premiere Pro.

Lower Third (Premiere Pro) Tutorial

In this Premiere Pro tutorial, VideoSchoolOnline shows us how to create modern and sleek lower thirds in Premiere Pro. Now, most people wouldn’t look to see if Premiere was capable of this, but a seasoned user would know better. Using layers in the Title Tool, they are able to create a simple two-tier lower third which identifies the talent on the screen. To give it movement, they use position keyframes with a manipulated interpolation. To keep the timeline clean, he nests the lower third into its own sequence. I can tell you from experience that creating simple lower thirds in Premiere is easy. The one caveat is when you need multiple version, it can be a real hassle to deal with, so plan ahead. Overall, it is rather easy to create a quick lower third from scratch, even if you only have your NLE to rely on.

As you can see, creating lower thirds from scratch is a fun exercise and a useful skill to have as an editor. There will be situations where purchasing one seems more viable than creating one from scratch. Depending on the project and client, it benefits you to know how to create one, but also know where to purchase one. Feel free to seek out other tutorials which show you how to create even more complex lower thirds so you can impress your clients.

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Third Party Green Screen Keyers

by kesakalaonu on March 6, 2015

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Green screen, or chroma key compositing, has been around since the 1930s. Developed by filmmakers at RKO Radio Pictures, it was used as a method to create complex visual effects that were before its time. Over the years, the process went from a painstakingly analog method to a digital method that can now be done on computers. Programs such as Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Avid Media Composer, and the like all have the ability to do basic greenscreen/bluescreen keying if your footage is in the optimal conditions. For complex and intricate situations, post professionals turn to programs like After Effects, Motion, Autodesk Smoke, or Nuke. Despite the programs that have greenscreen keying capabilities, there are many third party companies who have developed plugins to handle even the toughest keying processes. Let’s take a look at a few and see what each have to offer.

Primatte Keyer/KeyCorrect


Primatte Keyer is Red Giant’s premiere keyer solution for post professionals. Within its array of features are some of the following: auto compute algorithm for pulling a perfect key, key correction tools for refining mattes and backgrounds, and color matcher feature for matching the subject to their background. This plugin is one of the most trusted keying plugin on the market amongst professionals in film (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Harry Potter, and Spider-Man) and television (Sesame Street, Nickelodeon, and Disney). This plugin is compatible on Mac and PC with programs ranging from Final Cut Pro, After Effects, Premiere Pro, and Motion. I can personally attest to its strengths and abilities as I’ve used it in my work quite often. I find it great to use when Keylight may not be enough to get the job done. For the price of $499, it is definitely a keyer solution to consider if you do a lot of it. Just take a look at its capabilities below.

If you are fine with keying with Keylight, you can get the tools of Key Correct to assist you. Key Correct lets you create perfect keys from an image shot against a colored background. These tools include a Rig/Wire Remover, Light Wrap, Color Matcher, Alpha Cleaner, and many other tools. I’ve personally used Key Correct’s tools on many projects and found it to perfectly complement Keylight when I may have challenging keys. Having both Key Correct and Primatte Keyer are definitely tools you should consider in your post production pipeline.

Boris Chroma Key Studio


Within the Boris Continuum Complete set is the Key and Blend unit. This unit automates the creation of precise keys with a minimal amount of adjustment. These filters strip away the complexity of chroma keying by automating matting, edge softening and refinement, and light wrapping and reflections to produce seamless composites each and every time. One plugin that stands out is the Chroma Key Studio. The Chroma Key Studio is an all-in-one keying suite similar to Primatte Keyer. It can do everything from screen enhancement, auto-garbage matte and masking, chroma key, matte cleanup, matte choker, foreground color correction, and light wrap into a single filter. In the tutorial below, Kevin P. McAuliffe demonstrates how versatile this plugin is and why it is a suitable solution for keying within your NLE. I’ve used it myself a few times and it is definitely a time-saver if I’m working in Premiere Pro or Media Composer as opposed to shipping it out to After Effects for chroma keying.

PHYX Keyer


The final keyer plugin on the list is the one from the Phyxware folks. Phyx Keyer 5 is a set of 10 plugins designed to give you even faster and more accurate keys than ever before. These plugins include the FastKeyer, ScreenCorrector, Lightwrap, and SkinTools. These tools have been used by companies such as AT&T, Autodesk, and Fox Sports. These plugins were also used on the feature film Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. In the tutorial above, you get to witness how versatile and fast these set of plugins are, whether you are in an NLE or compositing program. One thing to note about these plugins is that they function on Mac only and are installed through the FxFactory software engine. I’ve personally used the Keyer and other tools in this set, and I have to say that it is top notch. They really have tools to handle even the most difficult keying scenarios.

You’ve seen these industry leading third party keyers and what they can do. Feel free to download a trial and see what the hype is all about. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.

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