Tracker can analyze three different video types:

  1. digital video files (.mov, .avi, .mp4, .flv, .wmv, etc.) which require a video engine (see below).
  2. animated GIF files (.gif).
  3. image sequences consisting of one or more digital images (.jpg, .png or pasted from the clipboard).

In addition, two different video engines are now supported:

  1. Xuggle (Windows, Mac, Linux) opens most digital video files including .mov, .avi and .mp4.
  2. QuickTime (Windows, Mac) opens .mov, .avi and .mp4 files only.

If both Xuggle and QuickTime are installed you can specify a preferred video engine in the Video tab of the preferences dialog. Xuggle is preferred by default.

1. Opening or importing a video from a local drive

To open a video into a new tab, use the Open button or File|Open File menu item. To import a video into an existing tab, use the Video|Import, Video|Replace or File|Import|Video menu item.

Open button File|Open menu item Video menu

Select the desired video in the file chooser to open it. If the file can be opened with both Xuggle and QuickTime you will be given a choice as shown.

Open dialog

2. Opening a video from the web

Choose the File|Open URL menu item and enter a known URL in the dialog to open a video directly from the web.

File/Open URL menu item Open URL dialog

Another option is the OSP Digital Library Browser (DL browser). Open the DL browser by clicking the Open Library Browser button or choosing the File|Open Library Browser menu item. The DL browser enables you to browse and access collections of digital library resources including videos and tracker files. For help using the DL browser, see Digital Library Browser.

OSP Digital Library Browser

3. Opening numbered image sequences ("image videos")

Tracker will automatically open a sequence of up to 1000 JPG or PNG images that are numbered sequentially. To open a sequence, select only the first image in the sequence.

Image sequence numbering must have a fixed format. For example, selecting the first image in a sequence numbered image00.jpg to image14.jpg will open all 15 images, but if the sequence is numbered image0.jpg to image14.jpg then only the first 10 images will be opened (i.e., up to image9.jpg).

Image videos loaded from files are initially read-only--each image file is loaded only when displayed. For faster response and editing capabilities, you can load all images into memory by checking the "Load All Images" checkbox in the Video menu. Note: loading all images may require a great deal of memory; you can increase your available memory in the preferences dialog.

4. Pasting images from the clipboard

Images that have been copied to the clipboard may be pasted directly into Tracker for analysis. Choose the Video|Paste Image or Video|Paste Image|Replace Video menu item to create a new image video.

5. Adding and removing images from an image video

Once an image video has been created, you can paste or import additional images using the Video|Paste Image or Video|Import Images menu choices Before This Frame or After This Frame.

To remove images from an image video use the Video|Remove This Frame item.

When importing images you can select multiple images in the file chooser by control-clicking or shift-clicking.

Importing images

6. Saving pasted images

When closing or saving an image video that contains pasted images, a warning dialog prompts you to save the images as files if desired. You must save the images if you wish to reopen them at a later time.

Saving images

7. Video clips

A video clip is a subset of frames in a video defined by:

  1. start frame
  2. step size (number of frames per step)
  3. end frame

The start frame is the frame number of the first step, the step size is the frame increment between successive steps, and the end frame is the frame number of the last step. For example, a clip with start frame 3, step size 2 and end frame 11 would consist of step numbers 0, 1, 2, 3 and 4 that map to video frame numbers 3, 5, 7, 9 and 11, respectively. (Note: the end frame must be an integer number of steps downstream from the start frame.)

A clip is defined for every video and even for null videos. For single-frame and null videos the clip settings apply to tracks but every step maps to the same video image.

Video clip properties are set with the video player and/or the clip inspector.


8. Clip inspector

To display the clip inspector, click the Clip Settings button on the toolbar.

Clip settings button

The clip inspector shows the current video clip settings and also provides fields for setting a start time (time assigned to step 0), the true frame rate (important for high-speed or time-lapse videos) and the time interval dt between frames (inverse of the frame rate).

Clip inspector dialog

9. Using the video player

The video player is normally attached to the video view, but you can drag the entire player by the left end to convert it to a floating window if desired.

Floating video player

The player includes (from left to right):

Click the readout and select the display type: frame number (measured from the beginning of the video), time in seconds (measured from the start time) or step number (measured from the start frame). The readout displays frame number by default.

Player readout options

Click the readout and renumber or set the time at the current frame by choosing the appropriate item from the dropdown menu. Note: both of these actions change the frame numbers or times at all frames in the video.

Use the rate spinner to set the play rate (% of normal) or enter a desired rate directly in the field.

Click the reset button to reset the video to step 0, or use the keyboard shortcut HOME. To move immediately to the end of the video, use the keyboard shortcut END.

Click the play/pause button to play the video; click again to pause.

Drag the slider to scan a video or move quickly to a desired frame.

Drag the black in- and out-point markers to set the start and end frames.

Setting in point

Right-click the slider to access many of these actions in a popup menu.

Setting in point

Click the step button to step forward one step, or use the keyboard shortcut PageDown. Click the back button to step back one step, or use the keyboard shortcut PageUp. Hold down the shift key with these actions to step by 5 steps instead of 1.

Click the step size control to set the step size in frames per step.

Click the loop button to toggle looping (continuous play).

10. Magnifying (zooming) a video

There are four ways to change the magnification of the video for more accurate marking:

  1. Click the zoom button on the toolbar and choose the desired zoom level from the dropdown menu as shown in below. Tip: Double-click the zoom button to set the zoom level To Fit so the video image fits exactly in the main video view.
  2. Position the cursor over a region of interest and roll the mouse wheel forward to zoom in, back to zoom out.
  3. Right-click on a region of interest and choose Zoom In, Zoom Out or Zoom To Fit from the popup menu.
  4. Drag a zoom box using the right button and choose Zoom In to zoom to the box as shown below.
  5. Press the Z key (mouse cursor displays a zoom icon) and click or drag the mouse to zoom in. Hold down the Alt key at the same time to zoom out.

Zoom button dropdown (left) and right-click popup (right) menus

Right-drag and zoom to the box

11. Video filters

Video filters allow you to modify the video image. See video filters for complete filter descriptions.

12. Hiding and closing a video

Uncheck the Video|Visible menu item to hide the video image and display the tracks on a white background. Choose Video|Close to remove the video permanently.

Note: when removing or replacing a video, a new video clip is created. This may result in some tracks having existing steps that are no longer included in the clip or unmarked steps that are newly included. If this happens, correct the problem by resetting the start frame, step size and end frame for the new clip.

13. Exporting a video clip

Tracker can export the current video clip as a digital video file, animated GIF or image sequence, thus serving as a simple video editor and transcoder. But exported videos can also include track overlays, video filters, and additional views like world views and plots, making them useful for documenting the video modeling or analysis results. Interlaced 30 fps videos can also be exported as 60 fps deinterlaced videos, which doubles the temporal resolution while halving the vertical resolution.

Note: the exported video contains only frames in the current video clip (determined by start frame, step size and end frame), not the entire video.

Export video clip menu item

To export a video clip, select the File|Export|Video Clip... menu. This will bring up the Export Video Clip dialog.

Exporting a video clip

Select the view, content, size and format of the exported video from the dropdown lists. The content choices depend on the selected view as follows:

  1. Main view: Video and graphics, Video only, Graphics only or Deinterlaced Video
  2. World view: Video and graphics or Graphics only
  3. Other views: Graphics only