Best practice to animate wind across trees & leaves?

Hello everybody, I have been scouring the forums with definitive info on how to animate wind effects on realistic trees and leaves but have had no luck.

I have been using ngPlant to create some nice tree models for importing into Blender and now I am taking a look at the physics settings for the first time and I am wondering on what the best approach was for animating the slight sway of leaves and branches in a breeze. This would be for a rendered video.

Understandably my 'puter chugged to a halt when I tried doing some soft body on an entire tree mesh. Maybe I need to thin some verts?

I have also seen someone post the idea of hooking up the branches of a tree to empties that are affected by wind, but this wont affect the leaves.

Am I asking too much from my technology or is there a better way?

Maybe moving a displacement texture through the mesh. You can use a vertex group so that the leaves and thin branches are affected more than the trunk.

Thanks Rob, I will begin researching. Always learning something new.
Anybody else have an idea?

@ Mr. Greengoat: have you tried this method ? did it work ? i’m interested trying to animate a tree too.


@Rob Cozzens, when I read over your post I was a little confused. I set one of my bushes to a displacement modifier, and tried a few different settings, but am unsure how to make it work. I’m having a similar problem with wind not reacting with my trees and branches properly. I’ve also tried using weight paint around the branches but that’s not working either. I really need to know what the best method is about how to make this work. Please give me help, you or anyone else who can help, but I really need to know.