Im trying to animate some leaves on a tree swaying slighty by wind, from a still 2d image using CC Bend.
Ive tried Bender and Puppet tool also, but not really achieving the ideal realistic effect that i want.
Ive yet to try masking or cutout the leaves as a single image that then can re-add back after.
Does anybody have any advixe on the best way to do this, please.
That is a very low-resolution screenshot with hardly any contrast. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to separate the leaves from the background and fill in the holes.
To create realistically moving leaves, you must have them on a separate layer. All of the tools you have tried distort the whole layer pretty uniformly. An animated displacement map may be a better approach. Before you do anything else, you need leaves on a separate layer and a clean background plate.
To make the branches and leaves on a tree realistically move in the wind, you will need many different layers moving gently in realistic ways. A 3D app like Blender will be a better option than trying to do it all on a single still image. C4D Lite, which comes with After Effects, does not have sufficient tools to create a realistic 3D tree with leaves blowing in the wind.
The real answer would be to create it using 3D animation. Such stuff is notoriously difficult to animate after the fact due to how it works in real life. That said, Puppet Tool and Liquify are way to go. You just have to chew through it, possibly with the help of some expressions and a script like DUIK to rig bones for the branches. Other than that it may really be worth exploring other techniques liek the 3D stuff I mentioned or adding stock footage trees on top of a cleaned up plate.
I think you can get away with a displacement map here - assuming this is in the background. Yes, you can go for a full 3D environment, but static matte paintings have been fooling audiences for decades.
David F Samberg (director of Shazam, Lights Out, Annabelle Creation) has a YouTube channel where he makes short videos - in this video he mentions how he took a static shot and made it look like a movie camera was recording:
Thankyou all, ive managed to solve it by using CC Slant instead and with a wiggle expression too.
Made it look quite realistic which i was ideally aiming for. That effect is great for animating grass too.