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11 Free & Paid Adobe After Effects Alternatives

By Cecilia Hwung | Last Update:

Summary: In search of the best After Effects alternative? Well, you've come to right place. This post lists the top 11 best paid and free After Effects alternatives that are worth trying.

Adobe After Effects sits at the pinnacle of 2D-based animation compositing and VFX tools with great motion graphics tools and well-supported communities with a plethora of scripting, plugins, templates, and tutorials for creating spectacular outcomes. However, the demand for After Effects alternatives is growing because of it's high subscription fee ($20.99/month under an annual plan), random crashes, and the steep learning curve.

Thus, I tested dozens of the similar software to After Effects and picked up the 11 best Adobe After Effects alternatives eventually. Keep reading, whether you are looking for some free After Effects replacements or you want more powerful alternative, you'll find the desired tool that can fit your demand and budgets.

5 Free Adobe After Effects Alternatives

1. Natron - After Effects Free Alternative

  • "This is undoubtedly the best and probably the only (except blender) node based Open Source compositing software out there which is also free for commercial usage."
  • -Users review from g2.com

    Natron, considered as the best open source and free After Effects open source alternative by many Reddit users, is a free and open-source compositor. It’s capable of generating unlimited layers of masks, matters, and shapes. It can also be utilized to create simple 2D/2.5D animation VFX. The nitty interface, as well as the node-based compositing workflow of Natron, is nearly the same with the expensive Nuke (an advanced After Effects alternative that we'll talk about later) which enables you to set expressions on animation curves to create animation move objects.

    It's killer features:

    • Support countless open-source plugins as well as commercial add-on.
    • Easily accomplish your tracking jobs with the 2D planar tracker.
    • Support JPG, PNG, PSD, TIFF, and a number of file formats.
    • Render multiple graphs simultaneously.

    Pros:

    • Node-based compositing
    • Open source and cross-platform
    • The curve editor is similar to After Effects

    Cons:

    • Take steep learning curve to learn
    • No preset particle effects
    • Not good at motion design and 3D effects creation

    Natron VS After Effects

    Natron wins in: Node-based Compositing, Ease-of-Use, Customizable, Cross-platform.

    After Effects wins in: Title Creation/Generation, Motion Graphics, 3D Compositing, Color Grading, 3D Models Importing, Particle Generators, Simulations, 2D/3D Animation, Render Speed, Rotoscoping, Third-Party Plugins, Audio Editing.

    2. VideoProc Vlogger - After Effects Free Alternative

    • Price: Free
    • Ease of Use: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
    • OS: Windows and macOS
    • Click the below green button to download

    "VideoProc Vlogger is intuitive and capable video editing software for all creators. Make cinematic videos for everyday creativity, special moments, or fun. Change video speed constantly or variably, and liven up your videos with speed ramping."
    - Users review from sourceforge.net

    If you need an easier Adobe After Effects alternative that can help you quickly elevate your videos with stunning video effects like snow, fire, colorful bubbles, and rainstorm, then VideoProc Vlogger might be your best pick. This 100% free-of-charge video editing software supports 999+ timeline tracks and comes with 50 eye-catching effects and 15+ animated title templates.

    In addition, it presets 40+ motion effects that help create crop opening/closing transitions, imitates camera movement, adds ken burns effect, etc. These ensure non-technique users create impressive outcomes without hassles.

    VideoProc Vlogger

    Its killer features:

    • A growing library with a number of stylish effects templates
    • Fast reframe video, imitate camera movements, or create other cool effects with the Motion Editor
    • Support compositing (20+ blend modes), green screen (chroma key), alpha channel, etc.
    • Easily create animated text with dozens of title templates and rich customized options
    • Self-explained interface. No learning curve to get an awesome result

    3. Blender - After Effects Free Alternative

    • Ease of Use: ⭐⭐
    • Films that used Fusion for production: Cosmos Laundromat, Agent 327
    • Download Link: https://www.blender.org/download/
    • OS: Linux, macOS, FreeBSD, Windows

    "I am an avid user of Blender. I have utilized this program to create 3D animations for clients and to craft animated characters for game design projects. Since 2013 I have used this program for all of my 3D modeling needs."
    - Users review from Capterra.com

    Blender is another open source and free alternative to After Effects. It's a 3D animation and modeling program with integrated compositors. That's being said the killer feature of Blender is its capability in creating stunning 3D animation graphics.

    If your work requires lots of 3D effects, Blender can deliver further more possibilities than After Effects does. And Better yet, everything you can do about 2D-based VFX and composition with After Effects can get accomplished in Blender, though very possibly in a more time-consuming and cumbersome way.

    Produced by Blender Animation Studio

    Its killer features:

    • All in one: modeling, UV mapping, animation, 2D design, composition, and more
    • Support Python 3, allowing you to create custom add-ons.
    • Add multi-effects in a non-destructive way with the smart modifier
    • Offer a full set of video and audio editing tools
    • One of the most lightweight 3D computer graphics software

    Pros:

    • Open source and cross-platform
    • The advanced physics simulation engine
    • Good at drawing in 3D with grease pencil object
    • Support GPU acceleration

    Cons:

    • Steep learning curve

    Blender VS After Effects

    • Blender wins in: 3D compositing, 3D modeling, Editing Capabilities, Cross Platforms.
    • After Effects wins in: 2D animation, Render Speed, 2D Motion Graphic and VFX work, Templates Creation, Title Generation, Rotoscoping, Third-Party Plugins, Text Motion Tracking.

    4. Blackmagic Fusion – After Effects Free Alternative

    "The Fusion inside Resolve, is not really ready for productions with a large amount of huge VFX scenes. So this product fits right into my pipeline nicely. Works well with 3D tracking software like SynthEyes, plus has nice trackers that come with it as well."
    - Users review from Adorama.com.

    Fusion is developed by Blackmagic Design as a standalone application-Fusion 16, and also an integrated utility in Davinci Resolve 16. As a professional compositing software, it's widely used by broadcast companies, TV-series producers, and commercials to create special visual effects, motion graphics, virtual reality video, camera/planar tracking, animate titles, etc.

    With the advanced stereoscopic 3D tools, this After Effects free alternative is capable of loading and rendering 3D models and scenes.

    What's more? You can add interactive physical effects like wind and gravity with 2D/3D objects in the scene. Suppose you are using the Fusion tab integrated with the free DaVinci Resolve, you can get access to the advanced audio/video editing toolsets, and the strong color-correction utility as well.

    Fusion Compositing

    Its killer features:

    • Advanced 3D compositing, motion tracking, and rotoscoping, and more
    • Process videos with different resolutions and color depth
    • Boast a raft of onboard and extra plugins

    Pros:

    • Node-based workflow
    • Support GPU acceleration
    • Easy to create 3D animated titles

    Cons:

    • Not friendly for green hands

    Fusion VS After Effects

    • Fusion wins in: Node-based Compositing, Color Grading, Video Editing, Audio Editing, VFX work, Cross-Platform.
    • After Effects wins in Stable, 2D/3D animation, Render Speed, 2D Motion Graphic, Templates Creation, Title Generation, Third-Party Plugins, Simulations.

    5. Cavalry - After Effects Free Alternative

    "The thing I love about Cavalry is the influence of Cinema4D. You have deformers and behaviors (effectors) and can use falloffs to control the animation. Something that is impossible unless you have like the Cloners & Effectors script for AE."
    - Users review from Reddit.

    Cavalry, first released in 2019, focuses on 2D motion graphics, is also good at data visualization, character animations, FUI, and much more. As a nova in animation software, Cavalry is friendly for armature with a nitty interface and straightforward workflow. For instance, you can simply double-click on the keyframe node to adjust the properties. With features like deformation, voxelising shapes, data-driven animation, and image-based distributions, this procedural-based tool takes a huge step forward in the significant improvements of the 2D animation feature.

    If your project doesn't involve many 3D animations, Cavalry is absolutely a better alternative to After Effects. Incidentally, you are even enabled to import .csv files or collaborate in Google Sheets and drive your content with external data to visualize the information.

    Cavalry Beta on Windows
    Cavalry Beta on Windows

    Its killer features:

    • Control the animation of multiple elements in batch
    • Boast a pro-level graph editor with features like looping and keyframe alignment
    • Straightforward UI for making 2D animation with the minimal effort

    Pros:

    • Beginner-friendly
    • Real-time playback

    Cons:

    • Too basic to make advanced animation effects

    Cavalry VS After Effects

    • Cavalry wins in: Procedural Creation, Data Visualization, Ease of Use, Team Work.
    • After Effects wins in: Visual effects, Third-Party Plugins, 2D/3D/VFX Compositing Work, Stability, Video Editing, Audio Editing, Motion Tracking, Title Generation.

    Paid After Effects Alternative

    6. Clara.io - Free After Effects Online Alternative

    • Price: Free (The paid version costs $10/month)
    • Ease of Use: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
    • The Official Site: https://clara.io/scenes
    • OS: Online

    "Clara.io is easy to use, powerful 3D modeling and review tool, with comprehensive set of animation functions that does not require any additional on-site software installation."
    - Users review from g2.com

    Clara.io is a capable After Effects online alternative. It's a full-blown 3D modeling, animation, and rendering program. The paid account charges you $20 per month, but the free account already packs all features required by daily needs. As an online animation maker, Clara.io is easy to use but still offers 3D artists and newbies superb results.

    It is highly compatible with a wide range of supported 3D formats including OBJ, FBX, STL, 3DS, and many more. Also, it responds extremely fast even on a less powerful machine thanks to the application of the V-Ray cloud engine. Moreover, it is supported by +100,000 free 3D models which give beginners lots of possibilities to quickly create 3D animation and modeling.

    Clara.io Interface
    Clara.io Interface

    Its killer features:

    • Robust modeling tools, subdivision surfaces, UV editing, modifiers, and more
    • A huge 3D models and photorealistic material library
    • Support 30+ popular 3D files formats, including OBJ and Three.JS

    Pros:

    • Easy to learn
    • Support mainstream browsers

    Cons:

    • Easy to learn
    • Cause the browser crashes frequently

    Clara.io VS After Effects

    • Clara.io wins in: Ease of Use, Low Requirement in Computer, 3D Modeling Rendering, and Creating.
    • After Effects wins in: 2D Animation Compositing, Motion Graphics, Rich Plugins, Title Generation, Rotoscoping, Motion Tracking, Simulation, VFX/Visual animation effects creation.

    7. Motion 5 - Cheap After Effects Alternative for Mac

    • Price: $49.9/permanently usage
    • Ease of Use: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
    • Download Link: Apple official site
    • OS: Mac

    "I switched from AE CS6 after Adobe went subscription, so I use Motion 5 now, and I find it a lot easier to use and the integration with FCP X templates makes it a far better choice for video editors that also do motion graphics."
    - User review from creativecow.net.

    Motion 5, developed by Apple Inc, is a motion graphic application runs on macOS. It has everything you need for creating 2D/3D animations, smooth transitions, 360° effects/titles, and realistic effects. Besides, the built-in real-time design engine offers you a live view without lagging. Motion is an easier and more efficient alternative to Adobe After Effects. However, it lacks the support of the raft of plugins and templates that AE has.

    Regardless, this isn't a deal-breaker for average users as you can use either Apple Motion or After Effects to create or edit simple motion graphics and animation titles as well as composite 2D/3D FOR visual effects.

    Apple Motion Screen Title
    Apple Motion Screen Title

    Its killer features:

    • Speedy and stable performance powered by the Metal engine
    • A powerful practical system with 200+ realistic assets
    • Support FXPlug and many other third-party plugins
    • Create natural-looking motion effects, such as Attractor and Repel

    Pros:

    • User-friendly UI design
    • Real-time engine
    • Create native titles for Final Cut Pro

    Cons:

    • Lack good tutorials
    • Limited compositing and animation features

    Motion 5 VS After Effects

    • Motion 5 wins in: Ease of Use, Color Grading.
    • Adobe After Effects wins in: Third-Party Plugins, 2D Animation Compositing.

    8. Hitfilm Pro - Easy Alternative to Adobe After Effects

    "3d object import and compositing. PBR materials are pretty good and get better with each new Hitfilm Pro"
    - Users review from g2.com.

    FXhome Hitfilm is another easy alternative to After Effects. It's an all-in-one app with great features on 3D facilities modeling, motion graphics, and complex procedural animations, graphics compositing, color correction, and advanced video editing.

    The many quick 3D presets offered by Hitfilm may limit your creativity, but it enables you to create bonfires, falling debris, Fire Explosion, and other amazing 3D effects with a few clicks of a mouse. In addition, its fast composition workflow allows you to watch the video without rendering. So, basically, you can use Hitfilm Pro as a quicker and easier replacement of After Effects.

    Video Created with FXhome Hitfilm Pro

    Its killer features:

    • Preset around 880 eye-catchy VFX effects
    • Create true 3D text with creative 3D geometry and dynamic effect
    • Support for importing, animating, and compositing 3D model

    Pros:

    • Offer multiple particle engines
    • Build-in series of free tutorials
    • 2D and 3D compositing
    • 360-degree viewer

    Cons:

    • Need a strong computer system to run Hitfilm smoothly

    Hitfilm Pro VS After Effects

    • After Effects wins in: Multi-Cam Editor, Shape Layers, Respond and Render Speed, 2.5D animation creation and Composition, Title Generation.
    • Hitfilm Pro: Simulations, Lens Flares, Color Grading, VFX works, 3D composition, Ease of Use, Customization, Third-Party Plugins, Video Editing.

    9. Vegas Post - Easy Alternative for After Effects

    "Most effects on Vegas 16 are very simple ones used to give some more level of detail to the video. If you are looking for real complex effects, maybe Vegas isn't the software for you and After Effects is the one you're looking for stuff like editing in enhanced reality, coloring and masking."
    - User review from Reddit.

    Need a professional program like Adobe After Effects? VEGAS POST is for you. It's a collection of software including VEGAS PRO 17 (editing videos), Vegas Effects (creating and compositing animations and VFX), and VEGAS Image (processing image). A beginner or hobbyist can purchase Vegas Effects separately at the price of $399. You can get most things that are needed in visual effects and compositing, to name a few, 3D model rendering and effects, environment maps, versatile color-grading kits.

    This easy alternative to After Effects gives you 800 staggering effects, filters, and presets that help you create eye-catching outcomes without having to install extra plugins. Other than that, you can enjoy a smooth playback even when copping with plenty of VFX works own a good deal to the support of threaded rendering.

    Vegas Effect Fire Generator
    Vegas Effect Fire Generator

    Its killer features:

    • Integrated a Video editor, an Effects editor, and an Image editor into one
    • Support for multi-layer compositing, 3D model rendering, and keyframe animation
    • Preset 800+ stunning filters and effects
    • Industry-standard color grading system
    • Automatic scene detection
    • Use advanced particle generators, texts & titling, 3D models in realistic 3D environments, lenses, and more

    Pros:

    • Planar Motion Tracking
    • Advanced particle generators
    • Fast response

    Cons:

    • High price tag
    • Steep learning curve

    Vegas Post VS After Effects

    • Vegas Post Wins in: Color Correction, Video Editing, Quick Visual Effects Creation.
    • After Effects Wins in: Ease of Use, Motion Tracking, 2D/2.5D animations, Title Generation, Third-Party Plugins.

    10. Cinema 4D - App Similar to After Effects for Windows, macOS, Linux (More Advanced)

    "This is an amazing tool for an imaginary person, if you can't think good enough for a scene this application gives you zero help. But on the other hand with Cinema 4D you can make the most good-looking scenes for any use you want."
    - User review from g2.com.

    Cinema 4D, developed by Maxon, is all about creating 3D graphics for Motion and Visual Graphics. It usually collaborates with Adobe After Effects to build breathtaking 3D animations and models for Hollywood films. Certainly, it can be used standalone as an industry-level 3D modeling, painting, rendering, and animation program. Cinema 4D responds extremely fast and boasts robust rendering plugins. If all you need is about 3D-based things, Cinema 4D is a better alternative to Adobe After Effects.

    3D Animation Created by Cinema 4D

    Its killer features

    • Various modeling modes: parametric and volume modeling, and more
    • Developed with 5 modes for editing animation tracks on objects or tags
    • Can integrate with Adobe After Effects

    Pros:

    • 3D modeling, animation, and simulation

    Cons:

    • Unintuitive export and render windows
    • The UV mapping feature is hard to use

    Cinema 4D VS After Effects

    • After Effects wins in almost everything but 3D modeling.

    11. Nuke - Node-based Adobe Effects Alternative

    "Nuke is a solid piece of software, it is reliable, stable (on Linux I rarely if ever experience a crash for example), and more importantly, it is production proven at the highest level."
    - User review from Reddit.

    Nuke is an industry-standard composition program before anything else. Being one of the most advanced node-based compositing tools, it can cope with 1023 channels in a single stream. Therefore, it is widely regarded as an advanced substitution of After Effects for the compositing jobs required by high-end films or TV shows. It is considerably more expensive and has a steeper learning curve, higher requirements on the PC built.

    Rotoscoping is easier made and more adjustable in Nuke. The support of third-party plugins allows you to realize endless possibilities when creating VFX effects. Be that as it may, After Effects is still unreplaceable if you are working with multiple cameras, and videos with different durations, resolutions, and formats.

    Nuke Visual Effects Compositing

    Its killer features

    • Node-based compositing with 200 creative nodes
    • Composite images with different opacity, color, and camera-relative depth
    • Full support for HDRI format
    • Machine learning toolset

    Pros:

    • Industry-level composting tools

    Cons:

    • High price tag
    • Difficult to add third-party plugins

    Nuke VS After Effects

    • Nuke wins in: Node-based Compositing, 4K Video Compositing, 3D/VFX Compositing, Team Work, Efficiency.
    • After Effects wins in: Motion Graphics, Animation, Templates Creation, Title Generation, Ease of Use.

    FAQ

    Is After Effects free or there a free version

    No, in short. After Effects is a paid-for motion graphics, visual effects, and compositing software that offers no free version.

    However, you can get a free trial for 7 days with the capability to use all features. To use After Effect for free, come cover to its official site, click on Free trial to download the .exe file, and have it installed on your PC or Mac.

    Can you buy After Effects permanently

    There is no access to buy Adobe After Effects permanently from Adobe since 2013. Though you can still purchase some older versions of AE from eBay and many commercial sites without having to pay the subscription fee every month ($19.9/month for the first year, and $29.99/month for next years), more bugs and crashes you would experience. And as such, it's worth going to dip your toes in some cheaper alternative before subscribing After Effects.

    What is better than Adobe After Effects

    It's up to your target, personal preferences, machines, source files, skill level, and many other factors. For instance, Node-based visual effects and compositing programs like Fusion, Nuke, and Natron are far more efficient than layer-based Adobe After Effects to process complex composites entailing a vast number of layers. Hitfilm Pro and Vegas Effects have numerous ready-made options for creating spectacular VFX effects, they are better substitutes for After Effects if the project you are working on is time-sensitive. As for 3D rendering or modeling, even the free Blender can easily rival AE.

    Which version of After Effects is the best

    Adobe After Effects 17.5 released on Oct 2020 is currently the best version with lots of bugs fixed and new/improvement features including Tapered shape strokes, concentric shape repeaters, support of ProRes RAW files, etc.

    About The Author

    Cecilia Hwung is the marketing manager of Digiarty Software and the editor-in-chief of VideoProc team. She pursues common progress with her team and expects to share more creative content and useful information to readers. She has strong interest in copywriting and rich experience in video editing tips.

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