Camera Tracking: AE to MODO
I took my first stab at 3D Camera Tracking around 1999. I'm pretty sure there were only about 2 commercial 3D camera tracking packages on the market at the time. We bought one that cost around $10K. I had already claimed I could use it so actors were hired, a set was built, footage was shot and in the can. I installed the software, loaded my clip and set up some tracking points. I tracked the shot, exported to Lightwave or Maya (can't remember which we used at the time), did a test render then proceeded to shit my pants. Well...not literally...but definitely figuratively. The footage had already been shot at great expense and I thought what would be a straightforward and automated process was giving me results that were WAAAAAAAY off. I ended up persevering...didn't sleep for 3 or 4 days until I had mastered the software and it all worked out in the end. It didn't change the fact that 3D camera tracking was basically a black art though. You load your footage, define some points of interest, hit 'GO' and basically pray it works.
I can't say that things are terribly different 20 years later - but it's a lot cheaper and a lot more reliable. The technology has filtered all the way down to After FX and it works quite well. In the video below I'll track a handheld iPhone shot, set the origin and ground plane, create some elements (the camera, some nulls and some stand in geometry) and export the entire thing to MODO. Within MODO I I'll do a small amount of work tweaking the scene scale and orientation and then do a little dynamics animation and finally set up some render passes.
More than half the video is about the render passes and dynamics animation. If you're just interested in camera tracking and exporting to MODO then it's really just the first 10-15 minutes.