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Author: Chris Vranos

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Quick Overview

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.

This plugin is a game-changer for VFX work in After Effects. Never before could you track warping surfaces so easily!

Lockdown 1.4 is a free update to all users.

 How do I upgrade to Lockdown 1.4?  Please follow this video.

Please note that 500 Externalized Points are no longer supported in Lockdown 1.4. 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.


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


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 After Effects 2019 and above.

Lockdown first UI


To use the Plug-in, please follow the instructions labeled 1-9 in both the script and Plug-in. Start by opening the script under Window/Lockdown.jsxbin. Select the layer you'd like to track, then press button 1.

1) Pre-Compose

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. This button is optional, but it's recommended that you use it to pre-compose your layer into a composition that matches the layer's resolution and framerate, and work inside that pre-comp.

2) Optional Tracking Filter

This optional button applies effects that sometimes allow our tracker and Mocha to better identify textures. It's probably not necessary when using Vector Tracking. 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. You'll want to delete these effects once tracking is done, after Step 5.

3) Generate 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.

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, therefor having the smallest amount of points.

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: 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

Click 'nothing' to de-select

Please note that you can only draw points on one frame at a time. If you draw points on frame 1, then go to frame 20, and create a new point, all frames will be re-located to frame 20. (This was not an intentional design choice, we hope to someday change this.)

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: Three options for tracking points.

Accurate: This does well on most shots, with average accuracy and speed.

Fast: This mode is very fast, but only works on the simplest of shots. It is going to be depricated, we'd recommend not using it.

Connected Vectors: This is by far the most accurate method for tracking points, and we highly recommend using it every time. You will be required to render an EXR pass with your footage, which contains tracking vectors. There are three modes. Extremely Accurate is very slow to render the EXR pass, but easily the best. Accurate provides some middle ground, however we would recommend using "Extremely Accurate". Fast mode is very very fast, and is useful on simple shots. After the EXR pass is generated, tracking the points will be VERY fast because it's merely pushing points along the vectors, not actually doing any heavy tracking.

Full Vector Setup: This script will duplicate your layer, and apply the "Generate Vectors Plugin" to it, with the Vector Tracking Method above. 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.

Press to Track Points

This takes all the points in the step above and attempts to track them to the footage. You MUST keep the Lockdown Effect selected while tracking, with After Effects up and activated. Sorry for the inconvenience, again, this was not an intentional design choice, but a limitation of our first version.

After your first round of tracking, we'd recommend watching your footage very closely. You may need to add more tracks. When a track is not visible, that means it has no keyframes on that frame. You may choose to go back to step 3 and add more tracking points, then press this button again to add these new points to the track. To edit tracks manually, please check out the sections on "Internalize Selected Points" and "Externalize Selected Points". 

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.

5) Interpolate Partial Tracks

This button is necessary 99% of the time. Let's say you have a shot that's 100 frames long. You have a handful of tracks at the beginning that all die off (contain no keyframe data) after the first 60 frames, so the range is 1-60. You also have tracked points from the end of the shot, that are from the range 40-100. Your two sets of tracks overlap between frames 40-60. By pressing this button, at the time at which any tracks are "dead" and having no keyframes, they will find "living" tracks around them and follow their motions. So even if a track does not live for the entire length of the shot, it can follow your surface VERY accurately by piggybacking on the tracks later in the shot. This solves the problem of tracks just sitting entirely still when they die, and causing parts of your mesh to freeze. The motion from interpolation is represented by keyframes, so in the previous example, all of your keyframe tracks would now show keyframes from the range 1-100, rather than their previous ranges. This interpolation can be toggled on and off, deleting the "interpolated" keyframes as many times as you'd like. The only limitation to be aware of is this works best with "internalized" keyframes. If you're using this option with "externalized" keyframes, you run the risk of the interpolation being baked into the keyframe tracks permanently. It's recommended that all tracks are always internalized when using this option. If you find yourself deleting bad points, or adding new points, you should toggle this option off to delete the previous set of interpolated keys, and then on again to re-generate new interpolation based on your hand cleaned tracks.

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, white lines represent lines that are part of incomplete geometry and not contributing to the mesh. There is no concept of "faces" in Lockdown with which the user can interact. Faces are determined by edge connections.

Delete edge: Option/Alt+Click

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. One easy way to compensate for this, however, is to have MANY dense tracking points, in which triangles will look great.

7) Apply Mesh on this frame

This button takes the current frame and determines that this is the hero frame you wish to draw on. Lockdown now stabilizes the entire video to this frame. This can be undone and re-done over and over and over again without consequence by pressing this button. It's recommended to "Apply Mesh" on a frame in which your tracked object is largest, or flattest towards the camera so it's easiest to paint on.

At this point you should watch your stabilized composition very carefully. If you see any areas sliding, that means you didn't put enough tracking markers on them. You can press "Apply Mesh" again to clear your stabilization. Create some new tracking points, re-toggle "interpolate partial tracks", then connect these new points to your mesh as described in step 6. When you press "Apply Mesh" again, you will be back to where you just were, but now with new tracking points contributing to stabilization. One last thing to keep in mind, when the mesh is "applied" it only stabilizes within the bounds of the existing trackers. so for example, if you only put tracking markers on a persons face in your shot, when you "apply" the mesh, only the face will be visible, and the body and other areas without geometry on them will be Alpha-0 transparent.

8) Lockdown!

Pressing this button will pre-compose this layer for you, with the stabilized video inside. It will also create a freeze-frame guide layer of the frame chosen from Step 7, so it's easy to remember which frame was your hero frame, the frame that you should be painting on. It also creates a background for your main comp, which your stabilized/tracked composition sits on. It essentially automatically completes your compositing setup with compositions and layers in After Effects.
When this process is complete, you'll see no indicator in the render that anything is tracking. You have to go into the stabilized comp, and put in some text. Then you can tab back out, and see how well your text tracks.
Please note that the Lockdown process can take anywhere from a few seconds, to a few minutes, depending on how heavy the shot is. Don't touch anything while it's working. The bottleneck that causes the delay is the copying and pasting of the dense keyframe tracking data. We apologize for this inconvenience, just know that the software hasn't crashed if you get the spinning beachball of death or hourglass.


 Untracked point:
These only exists on a single frame. These can be created by ctrl/cmd + clicking, or with a click and drag as described above.

Tracked Point: 
These are keyframed tracks that follow along with your footage.

Mesh Vertex:
Once a tracked point has been successfully connected with 2 or 3 other tracked points, it will form a geometric face, as part of the Lockdown mesh. Green indicates it's part of a mesh.

Mesh Edge:
An edge (connection between vertices) that is part of a completed polygon, therefore part of the Lockdown mesh.

Non-Mesh Edge:
A connection between two tracked points. The white color indicates it is not part of a completed polygon.

Selected Edge:
An edge (Either type) that the user has selected.

Selected Untracked Point:
An untracked point the user has selected.

Selected Point/Vertex:
A tracked point or vertex can be selected and externalized, internalized, or deleted.

Rendered Tracked Point:
This just shows where your tracked points are, but rendered directly into the footage for smoother playback. The UI of Lockdown and all Plug-ins typically will not play in real-time.



This is the tutorial for you if you're on a deadline and you need to learn and use Lockdown fast.

This is the tutorial every Lockdown user should watch. It covers everything you need to know about using Lockdown.

Find out what the new features are in the v1.1 update.

Face tracker support!

How to easily get tracking data from The After Effects Face Tracker or Mocha into Lockdown.

An advanced lockdown tutorial showing how to track, cutout, and apply texture to the full body of a creature.

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.


This renders points, lines, and edges with anti-aliasing. It's a tiny bit slower to render, it's usually not necessary to have on.

Render Points

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.

Hide non-moving tracks

By default, when a track is "dead" meaning it's out of keyframe data, it will go invisible, when this checkbox is on. If it has any keyframes at all on it, including the interpolated keys generated from the 5 buttons above, the keys will render.

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.

Merge Points

This combines two tracks into a single track. If you track someone's eyeball on the first half a video, then the track goes off because of a blink. Then you track the eye on the back half of the video up to the same blink. This feature is how you would merge those two points. It's recommended that you delete any keyframes for both tracks that are not centered perfectly on target. Then choose the first track at the frame you'd like to blend from, and choose the second track on the frame you'd like to blend from, and press merge tracks. You'll notice both points turn red over the blend area. On the frames they are yellow, they will not be blended/merged.

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.

Min frame count for each track

This control applies to the Fast Point Track Method only, and will be deprecated soon.

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.


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

Make sure you interpret your EXR pass before tracking. Right click it in the project window, Interpret footage, Main, Color Management, set "Preserve RGB" to ON via the checkbox. Also, make sure that you render your EXR Pass in a 32 bit project, AND track in a 32 bit project. Once the points are tracked, you could go back to 8-bit with little consequence.

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 use the aescripts manager app to install, it should solve the issues and allow the software to install and work as expected. 
https://aescripts.com/learn/aescripts-aeplugins-manager-app/ Also, download Lockdown 1.3.0 or later.

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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