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Lens flare design element

Quickly animate starling murmurations in After Effects!

Murmuration Effect

Lens flare element

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Lens flare design element

What is it?

The Murmuration Effect lets you create realistic bird murmurations in Adobe After Effects. Your mumuration animation can included thousands of 3D starlings that undulate, swoop, and swirl in a synchronized aerial ballet. The birds automatically fly in random movements that mimic a real murmuration, and every behavior can be customized using easy controls. If you prefer to have complete control over their flight path, you can simply keyframe the position of a single "leader" bird, and the other birds will follow, while keeping some of their random, coordinated movements.

The murmurations can be composited over footage with realistic results. A "Control Layer" with over 50 neatly-organized controls allow you to customize the starlings' appearance, flight behavior (like automatic wing-flapping), and flock characteristics (like randomness and 3D spread). Or to save time, just keep the default settings and render.

The Murmuration Effect was originally part of the "Flocks" template, which includes 12 species of birds with pre-programmed flight behavior. The "Flocks" tutorial gives in-depth instruction on customizing the effect. The section on murmurations shows how to boost the numbers in your flock to create murmurations with thousands of birds.

This template includes three bird model options, so you can choose your preferred level of detail depending on your flock size, distance from the camera, and speed of your machine. The 1-segment birds are a single layer, and can be used for large populations of birds flying in the distance. The 4-segment and 8-segment bird models are constructed from multiple 3D layers, and feature wings that bend for a more realistic-looking flight. This template is not for animating birds that are landed. Music & backgrounds from the video are not included. This effect works in any resolution. Compatible with AE 2020 (v.17.x) and up.


  • Works on both Mac or PC. No plugins required. Compatible with Adobe After Effects v.17 (2020) and all later versions. 

  • This template has been "universalized", meaning it will work in After Effects running in other languages.

  • This template includes three bird model options to choose from, so that you can optimize quality for render speed. There are 1-segment, 4-segment, and 8-segment starling models. The number of segments refers to the number of layers used to create each bird. 

  • This template is for animating birds that are flying, not landed.

  • This effect will work in any resolution. Simply change the comp dimensions in the Composition Settings panel. 

  • Footage and music in demo video not included.

This section of the "Flocks" tutorial shows how to create large murmurations with thousands of birds. To get the most out of this effect, watch the tutorial from the start. The "Murmuration Effect" only includes the starlings. To have access to the other 11 species of birds seen in this tutorial, please check out the "Flocks" template (just $20 more).

The Murmuration Effect template is not a plugin, so there is nothing to install. Rather, it's an Adobe After Effects project file, commonly known as a "template" because most of the work is already done, and the user needs only to make their own adjustments. This template is compatible with version 17 as well as all later versions of After Effects.

The Murmuration Effect contains copyrighted intellectual property, so the sharing or online posting of project files with or for anyone other than a client is prohibited. See the Terms and Conditions for more details.

Positive and/or negative feedback is appreciated. Use the contact page to send me a message.

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