LIBRARY: Tutorials Video Tutorials Reviews Interviews Editorials Features Business Authors RSS Feed

Flags: blowing in the wind

Flags: blowing in the wind

by Kathlyn Lindeboom
CreativeCow.net, Cambria, California USA

©2001 by Kathlyn Lindeboom. All rights are reserved. Used at CreativeCow.net by kind permission of the author.



ARTICLE FOCUS:
The illusion of making a flag blow in the wind tends to be popular all the time. Here Kathlyn Lindeboom provides a quick tutorial on how to make this happen easily in After Effects using Forge FreeForm 2. The result is pretty cool and quite realistic as you'll see for yourself.

.

creativecow.net flag Just wanted to demonstrate this technique using the flag that flies outside of the Creative COW Headquarters in Cambria, California.
Sure you could just grab your camera and shoot the flag and it's movement, and maybe that would be easier, but what if you didn't really have a flag? You could have one made. But what if the weather wasn't cooperating? You could use fans and all that other stuff, or you could create the flag in the computer and animate it using Forge FreeForm in Adobe After Effects. It's quick and simple.
I want to thank Chris Bobotis of Forge for his help in presenting this tutorial.

So, let's get started: Open After Effects and create a new project.



Step One: Preparing the Displacement Map:

  1. Create a new comp of appropriate size and duration. Call it Displacement. For the purpose of this tutorial, I used 320x240, 10 sec long.
  2. Import your cloud footage. I used a 256x256 tiff file that came as bonus files on the Forge FreeForm Disk, but you could just as easily create your own in Photoshop with the cloud filter.
  3. Position the cloud footage in your Displacement comp at 192.0, 120.0.
    1. Apply Effect>Offset.
      1. Keyframe: Shift Center to:
      2. 0:00--0.0, 256.0
      3. 1:00--242.5, 13.5
      4. 1:03--0.0, 256.0
      5. 2:00--242.5, 13.5
      6. 2:03--0.0, 256.0 -- etc. You get the idea. Create a few, then copy and paste the rest.
  4. Add a new solid, black and the size of the comp.
    1. Apply Effect>Render>Ramp. Set start of ramp to 78.0, 120; color--black. Set the end of ramp at the right side of the comp window; color--white. Linear Ramp Shape. Position the ramp so that the black is positioned under where your flagpole will be.
    2. Set your transfer mode to multiply.

Clouds
Cloud footage.
displacement map
This is what your comp should end up looking like

Step Two: Let's Wave our Flag!

  1. Create a new comp. Same size and duration. Call it flag.
  2. Add your Displacement Comp (from above.)
  3. Add your flag and flagpole. I created my flagpole in After Effects with a solid and a couple of masks. The flag I did in Photoshop. You could create yours in AE, Illustrator, Photoshop or other appropriate graphics program.
  4. Position your flagpole is over the black area of your displacement map. Position your flag so that it is attached to your flagpole (Note: the flag and flagpole need to be on separate layers.)

    The CreativeCOW.net Flag The Flag Placed over the Displacement Map


  5. To the flag layer, apply Effect>Forge>FreeForm 2. Immediately you will notice that the flag image has changed. A light source and a slight effect of perspective has been added to the image. Notice also, that you now have 5 control points. These points (CP) are comprised of:
    1. One control point (CP) at each corner (with Bezier like handles/tangents)
    2. One CP in the middle of the image. This is represented by a small circle with 2 crosses in the middle.
  6. These are the controls that you use for the majority of your flag movement.
  7. Now, reposition the upper corners of your flag so that it is flag-shaped again and reattach it to the flagpole on the left side. You might even add a bit of curve the way I did.
  8. Go to the TimeLine Window. Select the flag layer and hit the E key to show the effect contols. Now twirl open the arrow for FreeForm 2.
  9. Twirl open the arrow for Number of Control Points. There you will see CP Values. Turn on the stopwatch. We'll set our keyframes later.
  10. Twirl open the arrow for Object Numeric controls. Set the Object X Rotation to -40.0 degrees, and the Object Y Rotation to -15.0 degrees. You may need to adjust the Obj Y Rotation to keep the flag attached to the flagpole. (After you keyframe your movement, and do a ram preview, if the flag bounces off of the flagpole, reset the Object Y Rotation to something less.)
  11. In your Effect Control Window, twirl open the arrow for Displacement Control. Set the Displace Layer to your displacement comp.
  12. Leave Preview at Preview, set your antialias to none until you've set all of your CPs and are ready to render your movie.
  13. Now, making sure that FreeForm 2 is highlighted in the Effects Window, advance through the timeline and reposition the CP tangents on the right side of the flag only. Each movement will set a new keyframe. I changed the values at one second intervals. (For the sake of this tutorial, I did several and copied and pasted them . You may want to fine tune the adjustment for your flag.
    Beginning the manipulation adjusting the CPs and tangents


  14. Be sure and save your project several times during all of this.
  15. Check your movement with a RAM preview.
  16. When you like what you have, then you're ready to render your flag movie.
  17. Now, turn off the visibility of your displacement layer, if you haven't already, by clicking on the "eye" for that layer.
  18. In the Effect Control Window, change the Mesh Subdivision (Under Mesh controls) to something like 80. Change the Antialias to Medium or High.
    effects control window

  19. In your output module: use Animation at "most spatial" quality, and change the channel to RGB + Alpha, premultiplied with black.


Step Three: The Final Comp

  1. Create a new comp. Same size and duration of your others.
  2. Add your background. I used some stock footage from ARTBEATS -- the Establishments Mixed Cuts series.
  3. Add your flag movie.
  4. To add realism to your final movie, you'll want to add some shadow. I used the Pinnacle Image Lounge Real Shadows plug-in for AE.
  5. Render your movie with the appropriate settings.
  6. Enjoy. Here's my movie:

If you don't have Forge FreeForm 2, download a demo from the Forge website. Like to discuss this article? Check out the Forge Freeform COW.

And thanks again to Chris Bobotis for all his help.

--Kathlyn Lindeboom



Visit Creative Cow's website and forums if you got here by direct link to this article...



Related Articles / Tutorials:
Adobe After Effects
After Effects 2015.3 - My Favorite Features

After Effects 2015.3 - My Favorite Features

Learn why you should upgrade to After Effects CC 2015.3 - 13.8.1 - a close and detailed look at the latest release of After Effects (August 2016). Roei Tzoref will be focusing on his favorite features that set this release apart from previous versions: Performance, Queue in AME, Lumetri Color new features, and more.

Tutorial
Roei Tzoref
Adobe After Effects
Advanced Masking in Adobe After Effects

Advanced Masking in Adobe After Effects

Some of the coolest stuff you can do inside of Adobe After Effects is only possible once you unlock the power of masks. Join After Effects whiz Tobias Gleissenberger of Surfaced Studio to learn about mask animation and interpolation, using the variable width feathering tool, managing mask modes and ordering, and more.

Tutorial
Tobias Gleissenberger
Adobe After Effects
Fixing Common After Effects Problems and Mistakes

Fixing Common After Effects Problems and Mistakes

Got problems using Adobe After Effects? Exported files too large, Expressions not working, mixing shapes and makes, modes/switches, selecting previews for layers vs. comps - Surfaced Studio's Tobias Gleissenberger shows you fast fixes for these and more!

Tutorial
Tobias Gleissenberger
Adobe After Effects
mocha AE Planar Tracker for Absolute Beginners

mocha AE Planar Tracker for Absolute Beginners

Want to learn how to create advanced visual effects? Learn how to use mocha AE to track your shot and add advanced visual effects to live action footage inside Adobe After Effects. mocha can help you track shots that would be hard to track using traditional 2D point or feature trackers because it is a PLANAR TRACKER. A planar tracker uses planes and textures to track as opposed to points or groups of pixels. This allows the tracker to stay on track even if your shot contains motion blur or a very shallow depth of field. mocha AE comes included with Adobe After Effects and is available since CS3 and there is no reason for you not to use this awesome tool to make it easier for you to track your shot, replace screens or rotoscope!

Tutorial
Tobias Gleissenberger
Adobe After Effects
How to Make After Effects Faster with Proxies

How to Make After Effects Faster with Proxies

Learn how to make Adobe After Effects faster by using PROXIES! A proxy is a placeholder that stands in place for a very large video file or image sequence in your project. You can easily create proxies for the large source files that you are using and After Effects will automatically link them to the item in your project panel.

Tutorial
Tobias Gleissenberger
Adobe After Effects
Stabilize & Smooth: mocha 5 Plug-in for Adobe & Avid

Stabilize & Smooth: mocha 5 Plug-in for Adobe & Avid

Imagineer Systems and Boris FX product specialist Mary Poplin shows you how to stabilize with the new mocha Pro 5 plug-in inside of Avid Media Composer, Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects. This tutorial covers artistic stabilization, such as smoothing out camera movements or stabilizing around moving objects, completely locking down shots, and automatically replacing edge fill on planar backgrounds.

Tutorial
Mary Poplin
Adobe After Effects
Adobe After Effects Puppet Tool

Adobe After Effects Puppet Tool

Become a puppet master by learning how to use the Puppet Tool in Adobe After Effects! This intermediate-level tutorial from After Effects guru Tobias will show you how the Puppet Tool allows you to add joints and animations to bring life to any static image!

Tutorial
Tobias Gleissenberger
Adobe After Effects
How to Spawn A Clone in Adobe After Effects

How to Spawn A Clone in Adobe After Effects

Want to learn how to create a cool clone spawn effect in Adobe After Effects? Follow along with After Effects whiz Tobias from Surfaced Studio in this exciting new visual effects tutorial that combines green screen using Keylight, CC Vector Blur, the Liquefy Effect, CC Particle World, and much more, delivered in Tobias' inimitable style!

Tutorial
Tobias Gleissenberger
Adobe After Effects
Creating A Flame on Your Finger with After Effects

Creating A Flame on Your Finger with After Effects

It is easy to do some motion tracking and attach a basic stock footage element of fire onto your hands, but there is a little bit of work involved if you actually want to make it look good. In this intermediate tutorial by After Effects expert Tobias, you'll see how to use a fire stock footage element to set your thumb on fire! There are lots of useful tricks for null objects, expressions, and more in this tutorial that will help you create all sorts of other cool visual effects -- or set even more things on fire!

Tutorial
Tobias Gleissenberger
Adobe After Effects
Turning After Effects CC Particle World Into a 3D Galaxy

Turning After Effects CC Particle World Into a 3D Galaxy

Want to create an epic space scene with only the tools built into Adobe After Effects? Starting with After Effects' native CC Particle World, Graham Quince shows how to create a spectacular 3D spiral galaxy using null objects, 3D layers, and expressions to define where CC Particle World adds particles in (After Effects) space.

Tutorial
Graham Quince
MORE
© 2016 CreativeCOW.net All Rights Reserved
[TOP]