How to Make a Flag Wave in Adobe After Effects

A waving flag animation captures the natural aspect of flowing wind, moving light sources and keeps the flag soaring high. Using just a 2-D flag image, create your own wavy flag using Adobe After Effects. The project uses common effects in the software, such as fractal noise, displacement maps and blurs. Once complete, add your flag to a flagpole, a person's hand or use it as a general graphic.

Step

Import the flag image file into Adobe After Effects. Drag the file and drop it on the Composition icon to create a new composition.

Step

Click the New Composition*8 icon to set a second composition. Select the settings you want for your final video and select OK**. For example, select from "HD 720x486" or "Standard 4:3." Fill in the Duration with the length of time for the flag to wave using, for example, "00:00:04:00" for four seconds.

Step

Right-click in the new composition, select New and select Colored Solid. Press OK and the solid appears on the screen.

Step

Go to Effects, Noise and select Fractal Noise. A cloudy image appears on the screen to replace the colored solid. Click on the Effect Controls tab in the top right corner of the screen.

Step

Set the Fractal Type to Swirly. Set the Noise Type to Soft Linear. Click the Invert selection box.

Step

Expand the Transform sub-menu. Change the Height to "1600." Set the contrast to "120" and the brightness to "15." These selections add to the light reflections and shadows in the final animation.

Step

Click the key frame icon next to the Offset Turbulence. Drag the timeline scrubber to the end of the video. Set the Offset Turbulence to "5,000." Drag the scrubber back to the start and set it to "0." These choices create the wavy movement for the flag.

Step

Hold down the Alt button, and then click on the key frame icon for the Revolution. Type in "8xx" and press Enter to create the repeated animated movements to mimic recurring waviness.

Step

Right-click in the Effect Controls window. Select Distort and the Turbulent Displacement effect. Set the Type to Smoother. Change the amount to "50" and size to "15." Hold down the Alt button, and then click on the key frame icon. Type in "8xx" and press Enter.

Step

Click on Effect, Blur and select Fast Blur. Set the Fast Blur edge to "70."

Step

Create a new composition. Drag the flag composition and the fractal noise composition into the Layers window. Click on the fractal noise composition. Set the Blending Mode to Hard Light. Adjust the Opacity to "70%."

Step

Scrub through the video to see the flag waving. Click the Render Preview icon to watch the flag in real-time motion.