• Compatibility After Effects
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Author: Chris Vranos

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Quick Overview

Now with an insanely accurate tracker! Lockdown is a revolutionary new 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 new plug-in that allows you to track warping surfaces inside After Effects.

Checkout the insanely accurate new tracker in version 1.6.1

How do I upgrade to Lockdown 1.6?  Please follow this video.

Please note that 500 Externalized Points are no longer supported in Lockdown 1.4 and later. 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 or 1.5.


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


NOTE: Please try the free demo by clicking on the green TRY button above before purchasing to make sure it works for your purposes. Please note that we only officially support the latest version of After Effects on the Creative Cloud. 

Lockdown first UI


To use the Plug-in, please follow the instructions labeled 1-8.

1) Pre-Compose (Optional)

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 this button. 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.


3) Create Points

You can create points individually, or within a lasso region. Please note the After Effects UI MUST BE ON to do this or any other interaction with Lockdown. If you can't see your masks, anchor points, bezier handles, etc... Your After Effects Effect UI is off. Turn it back on. View/View Options turn on all boxes.

 View Options

Lasso Grid Pixel Distance: This is how far apart the points of the lasso grid are. It's generally recommended to use the largest number you can, therefore having the smallest amount of points.

Your best general strategy is to create and track as few points as possible, and track them to absolute perfection. If any area is lacking detail after, add a few points in that area.


UI Toggle: Control/Apple+Shift+H

Create Point: Control/Apple + Click

Create a lasso region of points: Control/Apple Click and drag around an area.

Delete single point or edge: Option/alt+Click

Delete within a lasso region: Option/alt+Click and drag around the points.

Select multiple points: Click and drag around them
or shift-click to add to selection.

Add extension points: Ctrl/CMD+shift+option/alt+click

Delete edges with blade tool: Alt-Shift click and drag across the edges.

Click 'nothing' to de-select

Mocha/Face Tracker Import

This button will search the layer Lockdown is on. If it finds exposed Mocha points, or Face Tracker effect points, it will import them into Lockdown as externalized points. It is at the top of the Plug-in.

4) Track Points

Point Track Method: Two options for tracking points.

Accurate 1.6: This does well on most shots, with average accuracy and good speed. It’s best to start here and see how it works. If the points are just not tracking well, you can use Connected Vectors.

Connected Vectors: This is by far our most accurate method for tracking points, but it is slow. (We are working to make it faster.)

Full Vector Setup: This script will duplicate your layer, and apply the "Generate Vectors Plugin" to it, set to “extremely accurate”. It will set these motion vectors to render, and after the render, is set to replace the very slow rendering composition with a very fast reading EXR pass. You must interpret the EXR pass to "Preserve RGB", or it will not work.

Track All: This takes all the points in the step above and tracks them to the footage. You MUST keep the Lockdown Effect selected while tracking, with After Effects up and activated. This button also launches the refinement process. If you've created more than adjustment point on a track, press this button to factor those points in.

Your best general strategy is to watch each point after it’s been tracked, and make sure it is following the texture properly. If it is not, you must address it. You have two options:
1) Drag the point back to the correct place on a handful of different frames during the shot. Press “Track All” again, which will launch a refinement process, and correct the errors.
2) When a tracking point goes bad, delete all keyframes forward/backward from that point onward.

Tracking Scale

This parameter will help balance speed and accuracy. If your footage has little in terms of compression artifacts and noise, set the tracking scale down to 8. If there are large patches of the same color which may be prone to MP4 compression artifacts, increase the tracking scale to about 50. The tracking scale influences the size of each texture we're searching for, but also influences search distance, and search attempts. It's one paramter that acts as sort of a global quality switch. That being said, you'll very rarely see better results when you go above 50px.

4.1) Delete backward keyframes

For the selected keyframes, delete all keyframes earlier in time. Useful for quickly cleaning tracks.

4.2) Delete forward keyframes

For the selected keyframes, delete all keyframes later in time.

4.3) Delete Adjust point

Adjustment keyframes are created when clicking and dragging a point. They are represented by a crossshair. Go to a frame with an adjustment point on it, select the point, then press this button to delete it.

4.4) Delete Adjust track

Deletes all adjustment points on a selected point.

4.5) Bake selected tracks

Converts interpolation and adjustments into a base keyframe track. Can be very useful in speeding up a project file. It's recommended to bake all points as soon as they're tracking properly.

4.6) merge points

This button is obsolete and will be deprecated. Please use track adjustment instead.

5) Interpolate Partial Tracks

This button is necessary 99% of the time. On any frames where your points are not keyframed, this button will force those points to follow nearby points. Just press this button after you’re done tracking.

6) Generating a mesh and "Auto Triangulate Mesh"

Create Mesh Edge: To manually connect two TRACKED points, select one, then Control/Command + Shift + click another point.

Lockdown can only render quads and triangles. Green lines represent the borders of Quads and Triangles.

Auto Triangulate Mesh: Press the button. Please note that quads often render smoother than triangles. Manually drawing a mesh into quads can often provide better results.

7) Lockdown!

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.
It places this composition in the Lockdown Graphics Comp slot to reference the texture.
It duplicates your layer as a background layer.

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.


All you need to know to get started with Lockdown.

A fast overview of cleanup and beauty retouching using 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


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 re-assess 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.


How do I install Lockdown 1.4? Where is the .AOM template file it's requesting?

Please watch this video

When installing GV.aom, I get an error "There were 6 templates that were not loaded...". This is a harmless error that causes no problems. Our .aom file includes the 6 default Ae render templates, and we couldn't figure out how to get rid of them. That message is just saying it notices there would be duplicates, and rejects the new ones.

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 1 Error"

This is the result of a bad install, because Lockdown 1.4 shouldn't have a JSXBIN script file at all. 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 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?

No. Lockdown is limited to the bounds of the composition. But 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.

I'm having installation issues on OS X Catalina or am getting a (25:3) error

Please download Lockdown 1.3.0 or later.

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 2020, CC 2019
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