Post-Production
October 17, 2021

Top After Effects Alternatives: 8 Programs to Rival Adobe After Effects

By Chris Suffield 10 min read

Highlights

  • Top 5 paid for After Effects alternatives
  • Top 3 free programs like Adobe After Effects
  • Pro tips for choosing a new animation studio

There are many reasons you might want to seek out an alternative to After Effects; it might not achieve the results you want, be out of your budget, or perhaps you just don't like it. Whatever your reason, there are many After Effects alternatives you can turn to for your motion graphic needs. So we put together a guide of our top 8 options for software like Adobe AE.

Top 5 paid After Effects alternatives

Budget is essential to keep in mind when choosing any new gear, but it shouldn't be your first consideration. While some platforms cost substantially more than others, it is essential to consider what you want to achieve from the software before deciding.

1. Nuke (macOS, Windows, Linux)

Image by Gordon Tarpley (CC By 2.0)

 

At more than $5,000, Nuke is in a league of its own, but not just for the price tag; Nuke is one of the most advanced animations and visual effects platforms available.

When it comes to Nuke vs. After Effects, there are a lot of similarities. Still, Nuke's customizable interface allows for a workflow beyond the AE limitations. If you're an AE user looking to take a step up, Nuke might be the platform for you; if you're just starting on your animation journey, Nuke might be a little overwhelming. 

Cost: ~$5,248

Ideal for: Advanced animation, VFX and compositing

 

2. HitFilm Pro (macOS and Windows)

HitFilm Pro is free to download and use, but you must pay for the platform before exporting your work. Still, the platform's try before you buy aspect allows you to get to grips with what you can and can not achieve.

HitFilm Pro is incredibly similar to After Effects in the tool available and the compositions you can create. However, one big difference is the HitFilm Pro utilizes a non-linear-based editing system rather than the layer-based After Effects structure. If you are not used to working in non-linear form, this can be a learning curve.

Cost: $300

Ideal for: After Effects animators looking for a non-linear platform

 

3. Blackmagic Fusion Studio 17 (macOS and Windows)

Blackmagic Fusion Studio is an industry favorite used in post-production for films like The Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man. Fusion offers a massive range of motion graphics, 3D, VFX, and compositing functions and provides cutting-edge virtual reality tools.

There is healthy competition between the different fan bases; both have a supportive community and plenty of online tutorials and walkthroughs. You'll have to try both to determine where you fall on the Blackmagic vs. After Effects debate.

Cost: $295

Ideal For: Editors looking for an AE alternative without monthly costs

 

4. Moovly (Online)

Image bu Vidichannel (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Moovly is a little different from the others on this list as it is a solely web-based platform. Like other photo and video apps, Moovly provides a quick and easy way to build animated compositions from stock assets.

With hundreds of thousands of animated graphics and titles in the suite, Moovly allows basic customization through its simple drag-and-drop format with no Keyframing, and as a result, it can be limiting for professional animators. But if you're a business or content creator looking to produce professional animations quickly, Moovly is an excellent option.

Cost: $209/year

Ideal For: Businesses looking to create their own marketing materials

 

5. Apple Motion (Mac)

Apple Motion is the animation partner to Final Cut Pro, similar to how After Effects works with Adobe Premiere. However, as with FCPX, Apple Motion is a Mac-only piece of equipment, making it a little less cost-effective than the $49 implies.

If you're a seasoned AE user, Apple Motion might feel counterintuitive to use. But at the same time, you can create similar logo and title compositions; the workflow is entirely different. For beginners, Motion has plenty to offer and can add tremendous production value to your FCP projects.

Cost: $49

Ideal For: Final Cut Pro editors looking to expand their animation capabilities

 

Top 3 free After Effects alternatives

Some of the most potent video suites available are free to use, many created by editing communities as open-source software. While open-source software can have issues with stability, it can offer a real specialized focus. If you're looking for free programs like After Effects, then check out these 3 options.

 

1.  HitFilm Express (macOS and Windows)

HitFilm Express is, as you might have guessed, the free version of HitFilm Pro. As a result, the platform functions precisely the same way as the Pro version, albeit with limited effects.

The free motion graphics software is super easy-to-use and can be picked up pretty quickly. Whatsmore, you can purchase individual effects when you need them, allowing you to build an effects library of your own.

 

Ideal For: Anyone wanting to try their hand at motion graphics

 

2. Natron (macOS, Windows, Linux)

natron alternative to after effects

Image bu Fredyd (CC BY-SA 4.0)

 

Natron is a powerful open-source platform that specializes in rotoscoping, green screen, and motion capture tools. In addition, the platform boasts over 250 community-built plugins, so if you want to try your hand at coding effect plugins of your own, Natron is ideal.

Natron isn't the best when it comes to motion graphics and 3D effects; in fact, it has no 3D effects support at all. However, for those wanting to test their Visual Effects skills, Natron is a great start.

 

Ideal For: chroma and rotoscoping tools for VFX

 

3. Blender (macOS, Linux and Windows)

Image by Simon Thommes (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Blender is another open-source platform built by a huge community of contributors and users. Specializing in 3D animation and visual effects, the platform has everything you need to develop a 3D moving character in a 3D environment.

Even if you've been working with After Effects for years, Blender will be a massive learning curve. In truth, there is no Blender vs. After Effects competition; both are powerful suites specializing in their own thing.

 

Ideal For: Creating 3D characters and worlds

 

Tips for choosing an alternative to After Effects

What do you want to achieve?

As you can see from our list of AE alternatives, many animation software will specialize in a specific niche, such as rotoscoping or 3D. Knowing the types of animation you want to achieve, or learn to create over time, is essential for choosing the right gear. Learning new software takes time, so you need to consider the value of time spent learning and the cost of the platform.

Budget

Budget will always be a concern when making any investment in your work. When you consider your budget for your software, you need to think beyond the one-off or monthly cost of the program. Will your device support the software, or will you need to invest in hardware as well? Will you need to purchase additional plugins for the work you want to do? 

Comfortability

If you need an After Effects alternative, it might be because you didn't get along with the Adobe software. Every creator has their preferences regarding the tools they use, and it is OK to accept that you just don't gel with a particular platform.

Use free versions and trials of programs to see if you like them; it's no good investing time and money in software you don't find intuitive.

Wrap up

If you're looking for an After Effects alternative, you won't be short on options. Our guide is just a sample of some of the fantastic alternatives to After Effects available to you, but there are plenty more to discover. No matter which platform you choose, the important thing is to be comfortable using it, so your creativity can flow.

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