After learning how to use the 3d Studio Max SDK, I wrote some plugins that automate the process of rigging and animating trees.
Normally, rigging a tree is a tedious, difficult process. My tool uses curve skeletons to analyze a tree mesh and create a proper bone system over its branches. Then, it sets up a MassFX hierarchy and applies it to the bones for instant dynamic animation potential.
The second half of the tree rigger toolset I created is a procedural leaf animation system. It can scatter custom geometry over anything and apply dynamic forces to it, as a way to quickly animate thousands of individual leaves.
Click the image below to see a video of the result:
The toolset was created in-house for MAKE and is not publicly available.