Review: Creation Effects' Flocks & Schools
Paul Schmutzler
Issue: April 1, 2018

Review: Creation Effects' Flocks & Schools

MANUFACTURER: Creation Effects

PRODUCT: Flocks and Schools

PRICE: Flocks ($49 download), Schools ($49 download)


• Finely crafted and expertly organized
• Clear instructions
• Offers projects a unique look

I recently read an article about the Black Panther film that debuted this year. The article criticized the quality of VFX found in the film, comparing it to the quality of films made 10 years ago. In doing so, the author interviewed several current and former VFX artists to try and get to the bottom of why “we appear to have peaked at Avatar in 2010?” The general consensus was lower budgets, tighter schedules and overworked VFX artists. In today’s ultra-demanding, post production environment, effects and motion artists need every tool available to streamline their workflows and automate mundane tasks. The Creation Effects collection of After Effects templates and animations are ready-made to help artists get ahead in this competitive line of work.

Creation Effects is the company name for Noel Powell, a motion graphics and special effects designer. Noel has developed dozens of templates and pre-built, customizable After Effects projects over the years, and the themes of his most recent additions have remained true to his company name. Recently, two complex, nature-themed animation templates were released: Flocks and Schools. And this summer, Noel is expected to release a third: Swarms. No doubt the company name Creation Effects alludes not only to the author’s Christian worldview, but also to the theme of many of his products.

I had the opportunity to spend time with both Flocks and Schools, in addition to another set of effects, which will be mentioned later in this article. These two templates revolve around easily animating groups of airborne and aquatic creatures of various types, sizes and levels of authenticity. Flocks and Schools, which sell for $49 each, come in the form of an After Effects file ready for your customization. Upon opening the project, you’re greeted with a composition with instructions explaining how to use the different resources in the file. These instructions can be somewhat simplistic given the extensive customization available in these projects. That being the case, as well as included PDF files, offer much more extensive instructions and video tutorials on how to get the most out of these templates.

Flocks and Schools share many similarities in how they function. You’re given an array of flying or swimming creatures to choose from and assign to a composition which will (in theory) immediately provide realistic motion to these 2D PNG files. The Flocks project provides birds in different complexities from single segment all the way up to 15 segments. The greater the number of segments, the more realistic the movement of the bird is in flight. In fact, the 15-segment option even includes different imagery for the top and bottom of the wings, since both sides will be visible in flight.

Schools works in much the same way Flocks does, but this project file offers a larger number of sea creatures to animate. From the tiny clown fish to the mammoth whale shark, Schools gives you the resources to make your very own Great Barrier Reef on screen. It even provides a host of additional scene elements and pre-built animated scenes that your fake fish can swim over, under and through.

The last set of Creation Effects that I worked with is their Art Effects package. This bundle includes more than 30 different video effects and image manipulators to use with your footage. Some of these aren’t much different from fairly standard effects already provided in Adobe creative software, but others are really impressive. A few that stood out to me were the Claymation, Paper Cutout and Watercolor Painting Reveal.

Claymation turns your footage into what looks like blobs of modeling clay and dynamically utilizes different colors of clay to still accurately portray the imagery, albeit in a highly stylized way. Paper Cutout operates in a similar way, assigning different colors of paper to different areas of the clip to convey the imagery in an analog, elementary school drawing fashion. Watercolor Painting Reveal contains randomized “blobs” of water that drop onto the screen and radiate outward on the “paper” to reveal the image in different areas and at different opacities. Each one of these effects uses real photographic imagery of the clay and paper to ensure the greatest realism.

Overall, I found the Creation Effects templates and effects packages to be finely crafted and expertly organized. The instructions were clear, even for the most complex portions of the animations. If you’re searching for a unique look for your video project, check out to see what can make your next job easier and faster.  

Paul Schmutzler is based in Knoxville, TN. He can be reached by email at: or on Twitter at  @theschmutzler.