Getting Started in PFTrack


In this tutorial, you will learn how to create a project in PFTrack how to build a tracking tree using the tutorial clip provided.

Update 12 April, 2017: Some videos, screenshots and text have been updated to illustrate the node categories introduced in PFTrack 2017.

Tutorial Footage

To learn this tutorial you will need to download and use the footage below.



01. Starting PFTrack For The First Time

When you open PFTrack for the first time, you will be in the Project panel, with most of the buttons greyed out. They are greyed out because all work carried out in PFTrack must occur in a project, and you must have a project open to access PFTrack’s features.  Once you have created a project more buttons will be available.

02. Getting Help

Before we go on creating the project, click the help_pftrack at the top right of the window. This will open the documentation in your browser, and you can open the Project Panel section to find out more about projects and this panel in PFTrack.

03. Creating a Project

In the project panel, click the Create button to start creating a new project.

The Create button turns into a Confirm button and you can now edit some properties of the new project. Type a name for the project in the Name: edit box. You can specify the path where the project will be saved in the Path: edit box. Rather than typing the path directly into the field, you can click the browse button to open a file browser to select a directory.

When you’re done click Confirm to create the project. Most of the times you won’t have to worry about the other settings.

04. The User Interface

In the new project, there is the tree view on the left, the Media Bins in the middle and the File Browser on the right. The tree view is where you will create your tracking trees to get to your solution. The Media Bins hold all clips in our project. As this is a brand new project, the Media Bins are currently empty.
You can un-dock the tree view by clicking this float_window button. The tree view is now a separate window that can be moved to a second screen for example. Click the button again to move the tree view back to the main window.

05. Importing Media into Your Project

In the File Browser on the right hand side, navigate to the directory where you have unzipped the tutorial clip. When you see the thumbnail, drag and drop it all the way into the tree view.
Open the Media Bins again by clicking this media_bins_track button. They are no longer empty as we have added a clip to our project. Now open the File Browser as well. It is also possible to import a hierarchy of folders by dragging the top level directory into the Media Bins.
You can also import footage from your operating system’s file browser. Drag and drop any frame of the clip into the project, to import the complete clip.

06. Viewing Clips In The Cinema

Click this cinema_pftrack button to open PFTrack’s player window, which is called the Cinema. You can click and hold the middle mouse button to zoom, and click and hold the right mouse button to pan.

Select pre-defined zoom levels with these buttons cinema options on the left. View at full resolution, fit to width and fit to height.

The Cinema has the usual controls to play forwards and backwards through the clip, step one frame forwards or backwards and jump to the last and first frame of a clip.
You can use the same mouse button combinations to zoom or pan the tree view as in the Cinema; middle mouse button to zoom and right mouse button to pan.
You can hide the tree view with this hide_tree button on the top left. Click it again to bring it back to view.

07. Building a Tracking Tree

PFTrack uses a tree-based workflow which allows you to use multiple nodes in a non-linear, non-destructive environment. During the course of this tutorial series you will build your own tracking trees, with branches and you will be solving the same clip in two different ways. In this first part, however, you will use a random set of nodes to learn the basics of the tracking tree. These nodes have been selected to illustrate different features of the tracking tree, but the resulting tree does not constitute a meaningful tree.

The available nodes are grouped in categories in the Node Panel shown in the screenshot above. You can open the Node Panel by clicking this button pftrack_button_nodepanel

Creating Nodes

The first node you will create is an Image Input node, which you can find in the Photo (for photogrammetry) group. Click the Photo tab, then double-click on the Image Input button to create an Image Input node. The Image Input node can be used to collect a set of still images together to form a clip. We will use an Image Input node in later tutorials.

A different way to create a node is to drag the button from the group in the Node Panel into the Tree View.

Every node in PFTrack has a Help button to directly open the node’s help page for more information.

You can move a node by dragging it with the left mouse button pressed.

The Cinema and editor panel shows the content of the active node. A single left click on an existing node selects that node, without making it active. Double click on a node to make it the active node.

Right click on the clip node to open a menu. The menu lists the available node groups at the top level, and the nodes in each group in the second level. Select User Track from the Tracking category to create a User Track node. Since our clip node was selected when we created the User Track node, the new node was automatically connected.

Connecting and Disconnecting Nodes

You can break a link by clicking on it.

Re-connect the clip to the User Track node by dragging a line from the clip’s output connector circle into the User Track node.

Some nodes like the User Track node allow multiple connections. This is indicated by a pluse_node on the top right edge of the node. Add another link, this time from the Image Input node, by dragging from the output connector into the User Track node.
The User Track node now has an additional output. The first output contains the data associated with the first input and the second output contains the data associated with the second input clip.
Double click the User Track node to make it active. Each node that accepts multiple inputs has this Current Clip menu to select which clip you are working on.

08. Viewing 3D Scenes

Add one more node to the tree. Click on the pftrack_button_nodepanel to return to the Node Panel. Open the Solving category and double click on Camera Solver to create a Camera Solver node.

The Cinema can be split to show perspective and orthographic views of the scene with these views_pftrack buttons. You can split the view vertically, horizontally or display four tiled views.
The middle and right mouse buttons to zoom and pan work in these views as well. In the perspective view, you can also rotate the camera by clicking and holding the left mouse button.

Hold the Control key on Windows or Linux, or the Command key on Mac and right click in a perspective or orthogonal window to access a menu. In this menu, you can select which camera type to view in the window. You can also use this menu to reset the window’s camera.

This concludes the introduction to PFTrack’s user interface. You set up your first project and learnt how to build a tracking tree. It’s now time for you to explore and utilise PFTrack’s extensive set of tools.

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