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September 2014
Issue: February 1, 2011

Review: Imagineer Systems' Mocha Pro

By: Steven M. Blasini

PRODUCT: Imagineer Systems' Mocha Pro

PRICE: Node-locked license: $1,495 US; cross-platform floating license: $1,695 US

WEBSITE: www.imagineersystems.com

- incredibly fast 

- tracks entire surfaces

- entirely 64-bit

The folks at Imagineer have done it again. As if they didn’t impress with Motor, which pioneered planar tracking and applied it to the seldom-liked task of rotoscoping, and their follow up Mocha, which took that technology and added the ability to export their tracks to compositing apps of all flavors... now they give us Mocha Pro, a rotoscoping/tracking/insertion and removal tool. 

You might be asking, “Why do I need another application when my compositing app can track and roto?” The answer is quite simple: two weeks vs. two hours. Do I have your attention? 

The core of Imagineer’s latest productivity enhancing extravaganza is still their incredibly fast planar tracker, which instead of tracking a single point or pixel or collection thereof, tracks entire planar surfaces in your scene. Think of it as a pattern or surface tracker. 

Mocha Pro can track an entire region of the frame and compute not only its translation, rotation and scale in standard 2D, it also tracks perspective and shear changes in 3D space. So logo replacement, or even full on face or body part replacement, can now all be handled within this one application. 

Mocha Pro, which is a complete 64-bit app, adds the ability to automatically remove objects from your shot, insert objects into your shot, stabilize your shot (beyond the typical anchor point track of most compositing apps) and handle lens distortions as well. Some of you readers out there may recall, several years back Imagineer was responsible for VFX applications Monet and Mokey,  which handled this sort of task but cost many thousands of dollars. Well, the good news here is they’ve poured all that technology and innovation into the new Mocha Pro and are still charging the same affordable price for the program. 

As an active visual effects house, we use Mocha Pro literally on every project.

NEW FEATURES

In addition to its existing planar tracker and rotoscoping tools, Mocha Pro adds: 

Remove: An alternative to manual paint and clone techniques. Remove analyzes tracked layers to automatically remove obscured objects. It’s very useful for removing  rigs, wires, lens flares and unwanted objects from footage. Remove can analyze lighting and compensate for luminance shifts. Remove is also useful for “in-filling” in the 2D-to-3D conversion process. 

Insert: To composite and render screen inserts and match moves with motion blur, Mocha Pro can render out completed composites internally or inserts can be rendered out with alphas to import composites into other apps. It includes a mesh warper to distort and “bend” insert layers; and 3D offset, which adds more control to offset tracking data such as rotation, depth, perspective.

Insert and remove composites are quite possibly the most common task a compositor will perform in a given day, and these features built into Mocha Pro eliminate the hassle. How many computer monitor screens, cell phone screens and assorted graphic inserts do you have to do in a day? Imagine not having to worry about the painstaking frame-by-frame adjustments for, say, when the talent decides to bang their elbow on the desk where the monitor is sitting? You know how that is. The minute sub-pixel tilt of the monitor on the desk.... something barely visible, yet when it comes time to lock down that graphic, it appears as if it’s on a trampoline. Mocha Pro handles this with ease and your insert will lock onto that monitor like it was there all along. Does the camera pan the monitor or cell phone off the frame? Mocha Pro will continue to track its position until its very last pixel is visible. 

Need to replace a license plate on a car that’s traveling in the frame, while the camera pans and tilts as well? Mocha Pro has you covered. The types of graphic/CGI/animation insertions you can accomplish with ease in Mocha Pro are unlimited. Brand label replacements on commercial products? You got it. 

Same for item removals from plates. Those are the bane of our existence, but Mocha Pro excels here as well. Need to remove a wire? A barrel? An entire person? Mocha Pro handles obtaining the “clean plate” portion of the clip, as you track it, and allows you to remove objects with ease. All handled by its planar tracking technology. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

With all this power, efficiency and speed, it’s no wonder Mocha Pro is being used by many stereoscopic conversion studios where they can use it to roto and separate all the layers of a 2D shot in a fraction of the time it takes to do it manually. This package is all you’ll ever need to tackle any nightmare roto or tracking job with ease... and make that deadline on budget.

 

Steven M. Blasini is a VFX Supervisor and Co-Owner of BFX Imageworks (www.bfximageworks.com) in Los Angeles.