FreeForm Pro, mettle’s plug-in for AFter Effects, has a built-in particle system called The Generator. It lets you replicate or clone your image layer many times. The whole set of clones can be controlled together, as a unit, within the FreeForm Pro interface.
Each of the videos below use FreeForm Pro and The Generator feature.
The animation below, by Chris Bobotis of mettle, uses FreeForm Pro in a similar way, to get a very different result. He used a single feather image that he created in PhotoShop, and imported into After Effects. He then used FreeForm’s Generator feature, and the Mirror Effect, to create the entire animation within AE.