How do you make “the best” even better. Now, I know that saying something is “the best” can be subjective, but when just about everyone on the planet agrees with you, it’s a fairly safe statement to make. Mocha Pro (and Mocha AVX, Mocha for Adobe and Mocha OFX) is the absolute gold standard when it comes to motion tracking for NLE’s and compositing application. Adobe obviously agrees, as they have licensed Mocha AE in every every of After Effects out there today. HitFilm agrees, as Mocha Hitfilm is the standard for motion tracking in Hitfilm, and I’ll throw one last one out there. CoreMelt agrees, as PaintX, TrackX, DriveX and SliceX are all powered by Mocha tracking technology. So where do you go from here. How do you make “the best” even better? Well, Mocha Pro 2019 is pushing what you thought you could do in a motion tracking application even farther with it’s newest release, now renamed by release year (hense Mocha Pro 2019), so let’s see what this newest release has to offer, and whether it’s worth your upgrading dollars.
LET’S START WITH HOUSEKEEPING FIRST
Now I say “housekeeping”, but what I’m referring to here is naming, what’s now included with Mocha Pro 2019 and pricing. First, as I mentioned in the introduction, Mocha has been renamed, and we can now look for updates to the product once a year. With that being said, you’ll notice that I didn’t mention anything about Mocha VR, previously a separate version of Mocha for anyone doing 360 VR work. Well, I’m happy to say that Mocha VR and Mocha are now one and the same. All VR functionality has been included in Mocha Pro 2019 at no additional cost, and now all the plug-ins, whether you’re working in Adobe, AVX or OFX (not an issue with the standalone version of Mocha Pro 2019), can be found in a folder called Boris FX Mocha (so stop looking for it in the previous folder of Mocha by Imagineer Systems). Something important that I also want to point out is that you will also get “Mocha VR” for project compatibility purposes, so if you open an older project that utilizes a Mocha VR effect, you’re covered. So, that does bring up the question of cost. What is Mocha Pro 2019 going to run you, the user. Well, if you’re like me, and spend most of your Mocha Pro time contained inside of After Effect, the Multi-Host option might be the way to go. You can either plunk down one fee of $995 for a single multi-host license (the single license includes Adobe, AVX2 and OFX-Fusion/Resolve, Nuke, Hitfilm, Vegas Pro and more), or upgrade from version five for $395 or from version four or older for $495 (all prices are in US dollars). If you’re only a Media Composer Editor, Premeire/AE user or OFX host user (Fusion standalone, for example), you do have the option of just purchasing a single application license for $695. Now, before your head starts rotating and fire shoots out your ears for me mentioning a subscription, as I know everyone is sick of subscriptions, Boris FX’s subscription plans are actually pretty good, and very affordable. If you want to subscribe to the Multi-Host version of Mocha Pro 2019, you’re looking at $395. That would probably pay itself off in the first job you do with it. Finally, there will be some users looking to get not only the Multi-Host, but the standalone version as well, and price is $1495 which includes the standalone plus all plug-in versions as well. To be honest, if you’re a user of After Effects/Premiere, Media Composer or Resolve/Fusion, the subscription plan of $395 is a steal, and something that can easily be worked into any company or individual’s budget. Alright, now that we’ve gotten the housekeeping out of the way, let’s get in and take a look at the new features of Mocha Pro 2019.
WHAT SEEMED COMPLEX IS NOW SIMPLE(R)
Now, I’ll be honest. The first time I launched Mocha Pro 2019, I was a little taken aback. What I was greeted with was a stripped down version of Mocha. Something I affectionately called “Mocha Junior”. In my opinion, the single biggest problem with any version of Mocha, whether it’s the full version, or even the stripped down AE version, is that it just looks very complicated to use. It’s not, but it really seems that it is, and that’s a big reason why many people shy away from using Mocha (again, in my opinion), and stick with crappy point trackers. The Imagineer Systems (Boris FX) teams have taken that into consideration with this version of Mocha Pro, and have introduced the Mocha Workspaces. These workspaces work much like workspaces in other applications like Media Composer and Premiere Pro CC. The default workspace is the Essentials Workspace. What does this give you? Only the essential tools you need to track and export your tracking data as quickly as possible. You have access to the Toolbar, Layers window, Canvas, Essentials Panel and basic time/transport controls.
If you know Mocha at all, you’ll notice not only the new streamlined interface, but that in the Essentials panels, all the extras you’re accustomed to seeing are gone, and in its place you have just the basic track motion options (Trans, Scale, Rotation, Skew, Perspective) track forward/back, Link to Track, Surface Options (Planar Surface, Grid, Align Surface tool) and the export options. These tools are all a beginner needs to get up and running in Mocha. This is the stepping stone to get new users going. There are three other workspaces as well. Big Picture, Roto and Classic. If you’re familiar with Mocha, Classic view will get you back to where you’re accustomed to. My first question for the team in the beta process was “When will we get custom workspaces?”, and I was told “It’s on the roadmap!”. Nice!
The next, biggest, and probably simplest new feature for Mocha Pro is the Ellipse and Rectangle Tools. I know, sounds simple enough, but they were tools that were missing in previous versions of Mocha and I can’t count the number of times I wanted to create a simple rectangle around something, and still had to use the X Spline tool to do it. Now, the Rectangle and Ellipse tools are great for tracking, but let’s talk about the two other new tools that are perfect for Roto. If you are unfamiliar to Mocha’s “Best Practices”, you might be doing more roto work then necessary. How people are accustomed to doing roto work in the past is they draw around an image in After Effects using masks, and then they move forward frame by frame, adjusting tens or even hundreds of vertices to get a roto to look the way they want it to look. Damn, that gives me a headache just thinking about it. You could do that in Mocha, but I highly recommend against it, as there is an easier way. If you think about it, roto can be broken down into two essential concepts. Movement of your subject across the screen, and the perspective of that subject changing. Well, if you could track your subject moving first, you’ve already gotten yourself ninety percent of the way there, and then you can take that tracking information, and use it as a parent layer to your actual roto, and and only have to do minor adjustments across time, when the perspective of your subject changes. Trust me it’s a life saver (and there are a ton of examples of it on Boris FX’s YouTube channel, so you should definitely check them out). One of the problems in the past has always been using the point click method to add all the roto points you need, to mask out your object. Well, there are two new tools to help you out. One that almost seems like a no brainer, and one that’s super awesome! The first one is the freehand tool and, muck like the name suggests, you can simply select the tool, and draw around your image to create either the roto shape you want, or even a tracking area for you to track with.
Now, here’s where things get really interesting. Everyone is familiar with Photoshop’s magnetic Pen Tool. It’s concept is pretty simple. Select it, and you can create a mask around your subject with Photoshop automatically snapping the mask to the edges that you move the pen tool close to. Well, the concept works the same inside of Mocha, and is now my new, absolutely favorite go-to tool for roto work. It works exactly the same in Mocha as it does in Photoshop.
Now, with as awesome as it is, there is something that’s very important to keep in mind. As much as it is a Magnetic Spline Tool, it’s still drawing in an X-Spline, or linear spline, meaning that the splines have a hard edge. Let’s take a circle as an example of what the Magnetic Spline Tool is actually doing. Normally, when you think about roto’ing out an image that is a circle, you would think of the Bezier Spline Tool adding 2-4 vertices, to create that mask. Fairly simple and straightforward. With the Magnetic Spline tool, because it’s working with X-Splines, it has to add 50 vertices, to create a smooth enough “straight lined” mask, to create a believable circle. Take a look at what I mean below.
Is this a bad thing. Absolutely not. To be honest, ninety percent of my roto work is done with the X-Spline tool, as it let’s me get into the small nooks and crannies to get my rotos just perfect, and the ease and speed at which this tool works, makes it one that I’ll use in just about every roto job I work on.
Now, there are some other feature updates that I want to mention before we get into our wrap up. Mocha Pro now supports Retina and High DPI monitor resolutions, as well as GPU accelerated object removal, which gives you dramatically increased render speeds in the object removal module. So, with these new enhancements, is it time to take the plunge with Mocha Pro?
I said it before, and I’ll say it again. Mocha Pro is the, hands down, best motion tracking application/plug-in available on the market today, and to be honest, it’s very hard to find anything wrong with Mocha Pro 2019. Rock solid tracking, powerful Roto Tools, and a bunch of different modules to solve common tracking and camera problems. The biggest thing holding it back from being in the hands of experienced and new users alike, was the fact that I think a lot of editors (specifically), were a little intimidated getting in and working with it, as it seemed very daunting when first jumping into the interface. Boris FX’s streamlining of the interface with the Workspaces feature eliminates that, and gets everyone up to speed as soon as possible, and the inclusion of the GPU accelerated Remove module, and and Freehand and Magnetic Spline tools is something that seasoned Mocha veterans will add to their workflows almost immediately. For all current Mocha AE users, upgrading to Mocha Pro will give you these great features plus the Lens, Camera Solve, Insert, Remove, Stabilize and Re-Orient modules, which will let you handle any tracking or roto shot that comes your way. As far as what version you should be using, unless you have a specific need for the standalone version of the application, the $295 version is an absolute steal, as it gives editors/motion graphic designers access to Mocha Pro 2019 inside of both their NLE’s (Premiere, Media Composer, Vegas, Resolve), as well as their compositing applications (After Effects, Fusion, etc), which is a one-two punch that can tackle any tracking or rotoscoping job that might come your way. If you’ve ever even considered picking up Mocha Pro, the 2019 updates new features plus the price makes it a no brainer. Mocha Pro 2019 is available now, and you can download a free 15 day trial of the application by heading over to the Boris FX website.
Boris FX is a sponsor of my Media Composer tutorials, however, I have received no compensation from Boris FX for the writing of this review. Opinions in this article, whether you agree with them or not, are my own!