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There are a bunch of ways to do this. I'd probably use displacement mapping. Here's a step by step.
- Set the Project to 16 bit color space to smooth out the displacement - 32 bit will smooth out the displacement even further
- Create a shape layer named displacement filled with a black and white gradient with the start point having a brightness of 50% and the end point having a brightness of 0%
- Move the location of the mid point to 75% so it looks like this:
- Add an expression or set some keyframes so that the end point moves around a bit something like this:
- Create the artwork for a single reed in a smaller comp - say 200 X 700 and nest it in the main comp. Move the anchor point to the bottom of the stem like this:
- Add Effects>Displacement map to the reed layer, set the
- You can use expressions or keyframes to enhance the displacement to make the reed look the way you want it to look
- Add some animation to the rotation property of the reed
- Duplicate the reed layer or add a bunch more with different settings to get them all to bend and move the way you want so they look like this:
- Turn off the viability of the Displacement layer and then nest this comp in a comp with the background and the rest of the elements in your scene.
Here's the little project that I created in about 10 minutes: Dropbox - Reeds_in_the_wind.aep (note: your browser may add a .txt extension to the AEP file when it is download. You ca just delete it)
I hope this helps. If you experiment with the gradient in the first part of the project you can see how you can adjust the bending of the layers. The sample project is for demo only. A polished version would take a little longer. I've included the displacement layer in this render so you can see how the gradient is moving.
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my approach would be going straight forward on this one. keyframes and puppet (the go-to tool for bending or flexiblitiy of pixels). this will probably give you the fastest results and the effect would look very good. how realsitic it will look is up to you knowing how to animate according to animation principles.
just place your wheat layer in your comp and use puppet to create realistic overshoot and undershoot animation. this is really more related to understanding the principles of animation (anticipation and follow through mostly). once you know that you can set your keyframes accordingly and either use keyframing of the path while also moving the wheat's head, or use puppet like in this example.
in the reference there is definitely a displacement map for the heat distortion (on top of the whole composite) and this can be done in many ways. one easy way is using the turbulent displace effect as an adjustment layer with a mask. if this is not realistic enough you could use the actual smoke that is composited in the scene or even generated particle simluation effect as a displacement map and using displacement map effect using that layer as a map.
here's a tutorial about a plugin but it also explains the idea of heat distortion:
more about the puppet tool:
Thank you so much for such a detailed explanation!
I will try both of these methods that you two posted.