Lockdown 2

  • Compatibility After Effects
    Please check exact version compatibility under the "COMPATIBILITY" tab below

Author: Chris Vranos

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Quick Overview

Lockdown 2 is here! 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!

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Lockdown is a revolutionary plug-in that allows you to track warping surfaces inside After Effects.

What's new in Lockdown 2.2?

Lockdown 2 has been officially released as Lockdown 2.2. One of the features we've included is the ability to trim tracks using masks or an alpha channel. We've also optimized for 4k tracking. 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.

Checkout the insanely accurate new tracker in version 1.6.1


Lockdown is another class of tool. I strongly feel it could convert entire studios and pipelines from Nuke/Flame to AE
- Teddy Gage - Shotgun Studios

The game has been changed! I REPEAT! THE GAME HAS BEEN CHANGED! https://t.co/hbwz6npr0f

— IAMJamina™ (@iamjamina) September 30, 2019

Lockdown 2.0 Quickstart Video

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:

3) Tracking

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.

Video Summary:


6) Interpolation

 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:

8) UnLockdown!

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.

Advanced Controls:

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.
Render Mesh
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.
Render Edges
Shows and hides edges, when your mesh is visible.
Point Radius
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.
Clear Mesh
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.
Externalized Points
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.


Additional Tutorials

All you need to know to get started with Lockdown.

A fast overview of the 3D process

A full tutorial of the 3D process

Many more tutorials available on YouTube: https://bit.ly/LockddownTutorials


Known Issues with the 2.2

Layering is still disabled, we're getting to it. There is also a crash with certain AMD cards, which we are fixing for the next update.


How do I install Lockdown 2.2 using the aescripts manager app?

Go to https://aescripts.com/learn/aescripts-aeplugins-manager-app/
Download the manager app and launch it.
Select Lockdown.
Press Install.
Press License.

How do I manually install Lockdown 2.2? 

Go to aescripts.com/lockdown (Top of this page)
Press the green "Try" button to access the downloads, and download/unzip.
Enter the Windows folder for a Windows install, copy and paste the .aex plugin file here: C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects 2021\Support Files\Plug-ins
Enter the Mac folder for a Mac install, copy and paste the .plugin file here: Applications/Adobe After Effects 2021/Plug-ins/
Go to aescripts.com/downloadable/customer/products and find your license code. It takes about 15 minutes to generate after purchasing.
Copy your License Code.
Apply Lockdown to an empty layer.
Press "Register" at the top of the plug-in.
Paste in your license code.
Press "activate"
In After Effects, go to Edit/Purge/All Memory & Disk Cache 

I'm missing install files that I've seen in older versions or tutorials.

All you need to know is Lockdown 2.2 ONLY requires a single self contained install file. It's Lockdown.aex for Windows, Lockdown.plugin for Mac. You may still have the following files in your computer from older versions. You can safely delete these:


How do I get rid of the grid watermark?

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 see this tutorial.

Sometimes I get dark edges on my composition

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? 

The layering system in Lockdown 2.0 is temporarily disabled, so for now, please trim any tracks at the moment of their occlusion, and use interpolation to continue them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu2hVpuNyLA

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.

No points track when I track from an EXR pass

This video covers all the problems we've seen from users so far: https://youtu.be/_Uc-bErEwUg
In summary:

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?

Please use the mesh extension hotkey, Ctrl(PC)/Cmd(Mac)+shift+alt+click. Check out this video.

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 1920x1080 footage. After running out 1) pre-compose script, go into that composition. Set the resolution of the composition much higher, perhaps 3000x2000. 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 3000x2000. 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
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    Chris Vranos

    • Compatibility After Effects

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