Best After Effects® Alternatives

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Ben Jacklin Edited by Ben Jacklin

Adobe® After Effects® is incredible editing software that can bring your visual effects to the next level, but it can become an expensive and complex subscription whether you're using it short term or long term. When it comes to picking out the best software for video editing with the latest and most rewarding effects, your options are seemingly limitless. Finding the choices that bring you Adobe® After Effects® free can be challenging but worth the time when you sort through the top alternatives. Comparing different options and utilizing trial periods can assist in picking out which alternatives will bring you the most opportunity with your editing.

Special pick: Movavi Video Editor

Living by the motto: Make videos. Create. Inspire – Movavi Video Editor is designed to help you craft seamless cinematography masterpieces. Main features include Chroma Key, which helps you change the background of your clips to anything you desire, stabilization features take away that shaky effect from physically holding your camera, and voiceover action assist with adding commentary and helping you vocally tell your story.

Movavi Video Editor is a great After Effects® alternative that’s free to download. To get rid of the trial version limitations, you can pay a one-time fee of $74.95.

Top alternatives to Adobe® After Effects® for free

Looking for free software like After Effects® can take a little trial and error. Some programs will offer better resolutions and be similar to Adobe® AE®, providing you with specific open-source alternatives to after-effects, while others may replace the standard Adobe® After Effects® CS6 download. When you're looking at how to get after-effects for free, these are the top alternatives for Adobe® After Effects®.

Crafted specifically for filmmakers, HitFilm Express is an all-in-one video editing software. Bringing professional-grade VFX tools, you can utilize full 2D and 3D compositing for all of your upcoming projects.

Key features include:

  • Scroll through free video tutorials to expand on your projects

  • Choose between over 410 presets and effects to help with transitions

  • Personally record necessary audio with the built-in voice recorder for customization

Potential disadvantages:

  • Although HitFilm Express is an After Effects® alternative, green screen editing is not available, which can be a drawback if you're looking to change the background with clips

NATRON is another alternative for After Effects® that's free to download. For your composition software, NATRON brings you a cross-platform for visual effects and motion graphics. This digital compositor utilizes interface functionality that operates the same across all platforms, including macOS, Windows, and Linux.

Key features include:

  • 2D tracking tools
  • RotoPaint designs for multi-layer rotoscoping
  • Fluid curve & dope sheet editing
  • GPU & network rendering programming to make production capabilities a faster and smoother process

Potential disadvantages:

  • When working with large or heavy files, the program may lag and experience a delay in cache previews

Custom architecture has made Blender a different kind of after effects app. This free alternative unites flexibility with high-end tools that allow you to directly integrate with other production tools. You can utilize this free after effects software for rigging, compositing, game creation, modeling, and more.

Key features include:

  • Using cycles and relying on a production path tracer, rendering is made simple
  • Merge 2D and 3D concepts through Blender's viewport
  • Bullet and MantaFlow libraries are built in to allow customizable simulations
  • Python API creates beautiful scripting opportunities

Potential disadvantages:

  • Users will experience a steep learning curve due to the 100% customizable interface, making it difficult for users that edit lightly

Wax is a versatile yet lightweight free editing program, which allows you to customize your videos with a multitude of tools and add special effects.

Key features include:

  • Available graphics acceleration option for powerful devices

  • Fully functional 3D composition

  • Unlimited video and audio tracks

Potential disadvantages:

  • Can be difficult to use for a beginner

ButtleOFX is an open-source editor with a simple interface. You can use it not just for videos but for photos as well.

Key features include:

  • Parameters editor to customize your special effects

  • Three different workspace layouts to ease your working process

  • Multitude of downloadable plug-ins

Potential disadvantages:

  • Available only for Linux

Best paid Adobe® After Effects® alternatives

Operating as a motion graphics solution for video editors, Fusion is an After Effects® substitute that gives you visual effects, 3D, and VR graphics solutions.

Key features include:

  • Node-based interfaces create sophisticated effects by fusing imaging processing tools together conveniently
  • Compositions can be saved as a template to help streamline editing workflow
  • 27 GPU accelerated Resolve FX helps reduce noise and sharpen audio
  • Import features allow easy access to 3D scenes and models to be pulled from other applications

Potential disadvantages:

  • Rendering multiple comps at one time isn't possible, making it difficult to work on multiple edits at one time

Create 3D projects from scratch with the Motion by Apple After Effects app.

Key features include:

  • Create custom 3D media while designing 360° titles and directly upload your video projects to your platform of choice, e.g. YouTube, Vimeo, and more
  • Create motion templates with custom controlled parameters, then upload them for editing to Final Cut Pro
  • Professional masking tools create adjustable control points with rotoscoping
  • Import any USDZ objects into the motion library to adjust quality and output

Potential disadvantages:

  • While you can design 3D titles, you cannot import 3D objects

Test out Nuke's free trial before putting up the $5k+ to buy the standard Adobe® Effects® alternative. With industry-standard compositing, you can utilize over 200 creative nodes for all of your performance editing needs.

Key features include:

  • Workflow plug-ins such as Ocula create realistic 3D viewing experiences

  • Combine Cara VR with 360° compositing for live-action virtual reality content

  • Pull 3D motion tracks without leaving AE

  • Deep image compositing increases the workflow and productivity for rendering images with multiple opacity, camera relative depth samples, and more

Potential disadvantages:

  • Compared to other After Effects® downloads, Nuke is on the pricier end of the spectrum. The standard plan vs. the pro version offer few functional differences

Combine editing workflows with node-based compositing tools via Autodesk Smoke's timeline-centered editing. Autodesk uses geometric imports to improve animated controls. Monthly subscriptions run at $205 per month while annual subscriptions drop to $135 per month with an upfront payment of $1,620.

Key features include:

  • Adjust timing with dynamic trimming
  • ConnectFX allows you to input custom effects without leaving or altering the timeline
  • Export production to continue editing in Final Cut Pro X
  • In action compositing assists in adjusting lights and shadows, green screen footage, and 3D formats

Potential disadvantages:

  • Autodesk requires a lot of storage and is exclusive to Mac operators

Created with all-inclusive video editing in mind, Video Studio Pro is designed for all skill levels.

Key features include:

  • Beginner-friendly tutorials provide user-friendly software for a simple learning curve
  • Convert 360° edits to standard, downloadable projects, and burn video projects to DVD with ease
  • Enhanced 4k display helps streamline edits with software-friendly shortcuts
  • Boost workflow with customized effects, brush strokes, and more

Potential disadvantages:

  • Users report delays in transitions, light glitching, and the software is heavy on space

Comparing programs like After Effects®

Comparing all 11 of the above Adobe® After Effects® alternatives, the pros and cons are easily recognizable.




All-inclusive in features, comparison to similar software

Only the trial version is free

Surplus of video tutorials

Green screen is not available

Multi-layer rotoscoping

Difficulty editing large files

View all programs


Now you know about After Effects® alternatives and their pros and cons. We hope this article has been helpful in your choice of a video editor.

Movavi Video Editor

Make videos. Create. Inspire.

* The free version of Movavi Video Editor has the following restrictions: 7-day trial period, watermark on the output videos, and, if you’re saving a project as an audio file, an ability to save only half the audio length.

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