Which 3D tracking software is best

What is your favorite camera tracking software when Flame doesn’t cut it?

Specifically, I am seeking tools that allow for advanced image-based modeling and texture extraction tools for scene reconstruction. Specifically, I want to track a camera, rough model a surface or shape based on trackers and/or make my own, then extract textures from that geometry and have them exportable and included in an FBX. Think of the world’s best 3D stabilization you’ve ever seen. I’ve used PFTrack for this for years but sadly I’ve got to move on. The lack of community, documentation, and brutal support is not good enough for me anymore.

I love SythnEyes. Actually, I love the idea of SynthEyes. I own it. And I love it. And I’ll gladly fork out hundreds to support a guy building an app from his house. But, there are so many times when something isn’t working and I have no idea why and it’s just not a googleable kinda thing that I have to start over and fake my way through the solve once again. Its deep and powerful and sooo fast but I feel like every time it solves a 2,000 frame shot faster than PFTrack can cache it that I still spend the next 8 hours fecking around with viewports and perspective views and why I can’t lasso something and why I can’t adjust a roto spline when I’m not in full screen view. Also, why on EARTH is there a different pipeline for extracting a single frame of a model’s texture vs image sequence? And why is ViewShift SOOO much harder to figure out compared to PF and what I can see 3DE does? For me, the scene orientation falls flat and the 15,000 places you can hit a button and all of a sudden you can’t see your trackers anymore is crazy town. Russ’ tutorials are helpful, but, is there a community somewhere. I can linger and lurk in to actually learn what I don’t know and why I’m wasting so much time redoing shots?

I love PFTrack. I also own it. But, the licensing scheme, the lack of support when you can’t get into PFBucket, heck, PFBucket itself (should be called PFFuckit “I’m so fed up with this app I’d rather steal it”. Full disclosure. I don’t steal it. I pay too much for it like everyone else. FINALLY they at least came up with a 7 day/30 day license thing which makes it somewhat tolerable for my needs. But, alas, figuring out how to float your own license to 2 machines on your own home network is sooo messy and requires far too much B.S. I vow to never spend my money on this app ever again. But, frustratingly, it has INCREDIBLE image modeling and texture extraction tools. Need to rough models a car grill based on a BYOV (bring your own vertices) tool not included in the 2d trackers? No problem. Need to then extract an image sequence so you can dir blur through a moving lens flare and lighting changes? No problem. Need an sweet way to orient your scene based on vanishing points within your scene? Yup. No problem. But, the PF Academy they publicize? 3 beginner videos. That ain’t gonna cut it. And the community of PF Tracker people out there? It’s a LinkedIn Group with hardly any activity. Where do the PFTrackers hang out?

Im watching the 3DE tutorials and their website is well laid out, the pricing model works for me, and their software seems much easier to license and deal with. But, I don’t know if it specifically does what I need it to do. Anybody know?

Does anybody use PF / SynthEyes / 3DE for MORE than just chucking out a camera? I feel like we are so quick to export the camera and then spend all day and night fighting to line up a silly white frame to project on to and pool all these hacks and tricks and YouTube videos about how to create an Axis where one doesn’t exist when we should be getting our money’s worth out of Genuine Bad Ass Camera Trackers.


I do use the triangulation/mesh creation tools in syntheyes a bit (which are pretty cool), but not much else. And I mostly agree with your assessment of the software. It’s very innovative in its ways of confusing and frustrating me. I’ve found some good tips for using it in Reddit threads, fwiw.

I’ve yet to try PF. My appetite for learning another 3D solver is vanishingly small.

I also don’t hate the flame 3D tracker as much as some people do. Living on teradicis for the last few weeks has forced me back into a relationship with it, and while it doesn’t always cut it, it has saved my bacon more than once recently.


I feel exactly like Randy when it comes to Syntheyes which I own and use, and PFTrack which I used to own and use, but ditched em cause the company sucks. I rarely use 3DE, but I love it. I used it right out of beta to track something that couldn’t have been tracked at all back in 97. Its my choice, but it’s a little bit more money than I’m down with puttin out, when usually I just need a camera and maybe some GEO. It is super legit software and Wolf the guy who created it is/was ( I don’t know him anymore ) a super legit human. Maybe when my Syntheyes comes due, I’ll switch back to 3DE.

Anecdotally I loved how he used his girlfriend in all the pre-2000 training videos. That poor girl had dots painted all over her and she looked miserable.

You’re the one who got me into PFTrack but I have found it a fuck on to use many a time. The modelling geo is nice but I’ve only ever used it once.

The syntheyes I’ve never got my head around.

3de is supposed to be great and they all use it at the mill in cg land. The unix looking gui freaks me out.

I think I’ve got used to flames 3D tracker and it gets me out of most holes. Even stuff where cg take a deep breath. But then all I ever use it for it comp magic and not accurate 3D geo placement.

3DEqualiser is one that I haven’t had the pleasure of using but I am very keen to check it out. @justinbromley was telling me about the lens distortion matchbox that it will create for Flame.

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The lens distortion matchbox is good.

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So which one is the least worst? I think i kight go down the syntheyes route


I dunno. I feel like @Kirk . I really don’t want to learn another tracking app.

Anybody agree with this assessment? Anything you’d change/add/remove?


  • Weekly subscription model makes it tolerably priced
  • A damn good camera tracker + geo builder + texture extraction ideal for compositors or those that need high level scene reconstruction and don’t know their way around a 3D app
  • Node based feels like a compositing app


  • Support/documentation is terrible
  • Can’t find an online community to lean on
  • License model/PFBucket is awful
    Poor tutorial access


  • Cheap
  • Most likely to innovate
  • A guy in his house
  • Pseudo industry standard
  • Better for a “camera only/minor geo needed” into Flame
  • A strong camera tracker for those with 3D app experience to generate models/textures/uvs
  • Lots of users out there


  • Complicated UI
  • Somewhat unintuitive
  • Easy to get lost
  • A guy in his house
  • Texture extraction tools for compositors is lacking finesse as a toolset


  • well laid out website and documentation
  • tutorials are really good, in particular the ones on the VFX tutors youtube page. You can download footage, lens grids, objs for object tracking, scene orientation, etc and he’s very clear and concise
  • pricey, but weekly/monthly rentals are doable on an freelancer budget
  • seems to be a go to at larger studios
  • clever modelling and scene reconstruction tools
  • good tracker of you also know 3D apps


  • missing texture extraction, important for compositors

Perhaps the pot calling the kettle…


AMAZING hahahaha

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Hey Randy, another advantage of 3DE is that the tutorials are really good, in particular the ones on the VFX tutors youtube page. You can download footage, lens grids, objs for object tracking, scene orientation, etc and he’s very clear and concise.

You can extract textures from 3DE but I’m not sure if you can unwrap / re-wrap UVs like I think you can in PF track. That’s really something that Flame should be able to do on its own. I’d rather them add this then actually rebuilding the camera tracker.

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thanks for that @Luke . Very helpful. Well said!

Ive updated the Pros and Cons with your comment, as well as made that particular reply an editable Wiki that anybody can add to.

I love 3DE its so powerful, the UI is quirky but thats allright.

I usually dont use the mesh extraction tools and just make some geometry in meshroom, clean it up in blender and then ust this as survey. And yes vfx tutor tutorials are crazy good on this.

Tbh for a quick cameratrack with geometry… meshroom is basically one click and done but its not made to work with lensdistortion etc so its a bit “simple”

what also works well is nukes pointcloud generator, then you at least have a pointcloud to match stuff to.

But yea start with a mesh first then track it that seems to be the best way for gettig stuff bery accurately hence on set lidar scanning and or photogrammetry.

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Is this one of those cases where sometimes one tool gives a better result on certain shots than another tool? I’ve had shots that I have managed to get working Flame that haven’t in Syntheyes. I’ve also found Nuke’s camera tracker to do the job when Syntheyes hasn’t worked as well. But I predominantly use Syntheyes with Flame.

Anyway, a left field 3D tracking solution which has an awesome support community, lots of tutorials and ways to create a whole lot of bits and pieces for your post 3D track comp would be Blender. I haven’t used it yet as I haven’t had a need to but I’m planning to give a try. There are heaps of ways to manually adjust the track on a problem shot which I like (it’s not a set and forget solution as simple as Syntheyes) but if you really need to spend a lot of time getting a track right then I think it has the tools to be able to do it. I love the idea of Blender, and have used it for a couple of incredibly basic modeling jobs (buildings in background) and I liked it. Whether or not it is a practical solution is another thing though.

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One serious “pro” for me with Syntheyes is it’s speed. It’s so fast.

Another is that once you get used to them, the 2d trackers are very flame-like (I mean, they’re way better in so many ways but that’s a whole other ball of wax) so pulling manual 3D tracks is also painless


Whats the general consensus on 3D tracking software. I’ve been using PF track which has done the job time and time again. I was wondering if anyone prefers any other software, Matchmove, 3D Equaliser, Boujou?

As always thanks for the help.

For flamejobs the in action camera analysis, that got added i think in 2022, works pretty solid.
Also the internal C4D tracker often got better and faster results than PFtrack the last times needed. Mostly in bright studios with a lot of DoF and not the best placed tracking markers.


I’m a big fan of Syntheyes. While the interface is a little overwhelming at first and the learning curve can be somewhat steep, the results are outstanding. It’s also fairly inexpensive and exports very nice action files for flame.

There are a ton of good 3rd party tutorial vids, a lot of which have come out recently, that help demystify things. @andymilkis has a great Logik Live episode with @Sean1985 that I’ve now recommended a few times for folks looking to get started, and Matt Merkovitch has a ton of videos for more advanced features and workflows.

That said, if you like PFtrack, there is no shame in continuing to use it (or the internal flame tools, I still quite like the mono analyzer!). I’ve worked at a ton of places that have built their 3D tracking around it and I’ve been happy with the results.

And for the record, this is the first time I’ve seen Boujou or 3D Equalizer mentioned in a professional context in quite some time. I’d probably avoid them.


Hiya there @Kennel, great question, thanks for posting. We had a very similar thread previously and I think it makes sense to keep all the info together, especially since you and I had very similar questions. I’ve changed the previous thread to match your new topic’s name as it’s a good name and more likely to be found by others in the future. Thanks!!! r

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