Top 15 After Effects Alternatives for Video Editors in 2021

After Effects 03/02/2021 8 min read

After Effects is an amazingly powerful piece of software, but there are many reasons why you might want to look for an alternative; perhaps AE doesn’t suit your budget, or you can’t achieve what you want to within the program. There are many tools and plugins that can help increase After Effect’s capabilities, but there are also a lot of other programs you could use instead. In this guide, we’re going to talk you through 15 alternatives for Adobe After Effects and what might just make them better.

Part 1: Top 15 Alternatives to After Effects You Should Check Out

1. Natron

Pricing: Free
Platforms: MacOS, Windows, Linux
Best Use: Visual Effects (using Roto and Chroma tools)

Natron is a free, open-source platform with over 250 community-built plugins, ideal for those starting their visual effects journey. Natron’s real power is in the Roto and Roto Paint tools, which allows you to generate unlimited layers of masks, mattes, and shapes. 

While Natron isn’t great for Motion Effects to work and has no 3D effect support, those taking steps into rotoscoping, Green Screen visual effects, and motion capture might want to consider Natron.

Get Natron Now

2. Blackmagic Fusion Studio 17

Pricing: $295
Platforms: MacOS and Windows
Best Use: VFX and Compositing

Blackmagic Fusion Studio has an impressive list of credits to their name, including London has Fallen, The Hunger Games, Ant-Man, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Typically used for visual effects and digital compositing, Blackmagic Fusion Studio 17 is a powerful and professional suite of tools.

Fusion offers the full range of VFX, Compositing, 3D, Motion Graphics, and Virtual Reality tools for a one-off cost of $295. Blackmagic Fusion Studio 17 is a fantastic alternative to After Effects with industry credits and a supportive user community.

Get Blackmagic Fusion Studio 17 Now

3. Wondershare FilmoraPro

Pricing: $149
Platforms: MacOS and Windows
Best Use: Additional Motion Graphics Capabilities

Filmora Pro by Wondershare is an advanced video editor with motion graphics and animation capabilities. The non-linear editing suite is familiar and comfortable to pick up, even for beginners.

The animation and motion graphics tools are useful but don’t compare to After Effects’ advanced capabilities. Wondershare Filmora Pro is available for a one-off price of $149, making it a competitive alternative to Final Cut Pro.

Get Wondershare FilmoraPro Now

4. Moovly

Pricing: $209/year
Platforms: Online
Best Use: Businesses and Content Creators

Moovly is an incredibly easy to use online animation tool with cool drag and drop template elements. Similar to other video and photo apps, such as Canva, you can choose from templates or import your own assets to use in the system.

Moovly has a library with thousands of pre-animated graphics and titles, customizable within their online edit suite. While Moovly quickly becomes limited for professional animators, the platform makes creating animated content a piece of cake for business owners and influencers.

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5. Nuke

Pricing: £3948
Platforms: MacOS, Windows, Linux
Best Use: Super Advanced Animation and VFX

Nuke is a cross-platform industry favorite, with a hefty price tag of nearly $4000. As you might expect for that price, Nuke is one of the most advanced VFX and Animation suites available.

Nuke has everything you could want, including a customizable interface allowing you to create smarter workflows. Like After Effects, you can code and save scripts across all your projects, giving you full control over how you work.

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6. HitFilm

Pricing: Free
Platforms: MacOS and Windows
Best Used: Beginners looking to start with Motion Graphics

HitFilm (formerly HitFilm Express) is an incredibly easy to use video editor with some compositing and motion graphics capabilities. For creators producing social media content, HitFilm most likely covers all of your needs. For those looking to achieve advanced results, you may quickly find the program limited.

If you are just starting out, the HitFilm software is a great place to start, as it gives you a gradual introduction to various levels of content creation. If you don’t want to buy the full Pro version, you can purchase individual plugin effects for Express, upgrading it one Effect at a time.

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7. Apple Motion

Pricing: $49
Platforms: Mac
Best Use: More Control Over Motion Graphics

Apple Motion is a Mac-only program, so if you are a PC user on a budget, this might not be the alternative for you. Motion works hand in hand with Final Cut Pro and is beautifully optimized to provide real-time playback of your animations.

Apple Motion doesn’t have as many features and tools as After Effects and is primarily intended for all your titles, logos, and motion graphics elements. For just a $49 one-off fee, Motion has a lot to offer and can be an excellent place for editors to begin working with motion graphics.

Get Apple Motion Now

8. HitFilm Pro

Pricing: $300
Platforms: MacOS and Windows
Best Use: Build Your Own VFX Suite (only pay for the effects you need)

Hit Film Pro has the same usability as HitFilm Express, but with those additional tools, you may have missed in the Express Version. It is worth mentioning the HitFilm Pro is available to download for free, but if you want to export your work, you’ll need to part with one payment of $300.

The additional tools offer many of the same features as After Effects, albeit in a non-linear system rather than a layer-based one. HitFilm Pro is powerful in its motion tracking, Chroma, and Keying capabilities; ideal for VFX artists.

Get HitFilm Pro Now

9. Sony Vegas Post Suite

Pricing: $499 (upgrades $349)
Platforms: MacOS, Windows (Linux with a Plugin)
Best Use: Alternative to Adobe Products

Sony Vegas Post Suite contains three separate programs that all run hand in hand to create a seamless editing workflow. As Sony’s answer to an Adobe alternative, Vegas Pro covers all of your Premiere Pro needs. Vegas Effects covers all things After Effects, and Vegas Image takes over for Photoshop.

Sony Vegas is a professional platform with a similar workflow to Adobe products. Sony also has a loyal following and helpful community, so if you are looking to transition to Vegas, you are sure to find the support you need.

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10. Blender

Pricing: Free
Platforms: MacOS, Windows, Linux
Best Use: 3D animation and VFX

Blender is a massively powerful free open-source platform for 3D animation and visual effects. This program has a massive community of users and contributors who are continually upgrading the software.

Blender is a huge learning curve, even for a seasoned After Effects user, but there is no doubt in the platform’s power. There is a vast set of features, including rigging, skins, Smoke and fluid simulations, and even a node-based system for keying and rotoscoping.

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11. Pixel Conduit

Pricing: Free
Platforms: MacOS
Best Use: Mac Users looking for a Node-Based Editing System

Pixel Conduit originally began life as a Final Cut Pro Legacy plugin but has since taken form as its own editing suite for Mac systems. Pixel includes all of the necessary editing capabilities, with some advanced compositing and VFX.

Professional editors built Pixel Conduit to solve the issues they had within the Final Cut Pro and Motion infrastructure, and they have continued to build on that ethos. Pixel is pretty straightforward to use for node-based editing; it might be a challenge for others.

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12. Corel VideoStudio Pro X6

Pricing: $49.99
Platforms: Windows
Best Use: Beginners and Content Creators

Corel Video Studio Pro X6 is a video editing and effects suite for video and 360º projects. The clean and straightforward interface and intuitive workflow make Video Studio Pro ideal for beginners, especially considering the low one-off cost of $49.99.

Users report some instability in the platform, but Corel is hard at work to fix any glitches in the program. While the software offers some effects and motion graphics capabilities, the focus is on ease of use, with plenty of support and tutorials for beginners.

Get Corel VideoStudio Now

13. PowerDirector

Pricing: £44.99
Platforms: MacOS and Windows
Best Use: PC alternative to FCPX

PowerDirector is great news for any Final Cut Pro editors that want to move to a PC based system. Available for both Mac and Windows, PowerDirector has a workflow and interface that feels distinctly FCPX.

One key thing that PowerDirector seems to have improved on is the FCPX keyframing capabilities, with easier access and finer control. With hundreds of motion graphic and title elements to choose from, and more added every month, this is a great program for anyone needing to add a touch of animation to their video projects.

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14. Autodesk Smoke

Pricing: $1620/year
Platforms: MacOS, Windows, Linux
Best Use: Super Advanced Animation and Motion Graphics

Autodesk Smoke is one of the most advanced animation suites on this list, and at $1620 a year, you would hope so. Smoke is a Mac-only platform and works with Final Cut Pro in a similar way to Premiere Pro and After Effects.

There is a huge learning curve with Smoke, even for seasoned After Effects users. While AE allows third-party plugins to build your tool kit over time, Autodesk Smoke offers everything upfront, which can be overwhelming for someone just starting.

Get Autodesk Smoke Now

15. Wax

Pricing: Free
Platforms: Windows
Best Use: Premiere Pro 7 fans

Wax is a free to use professional 2D and 3D animation suite with powerful compositing and real-time playback features. Wax has two functions; a stand-alone animation suite and a plugin for video editors.

Wax is quite an easy-to-use platform, but the Premiere Pro 7 style interface might put some users off. While the interface and even the website look quite retro, don’t let this put you off giving Wax ago, as there is a lot of power behind the scenes.

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Part 2: How to Select Your Alternative? Check Out Our Recommendations

There are a few elements to consider when choosing an editing platform to use; does it suit your budget, is it available on your preferred device, how easy is it to use? While these things are essential, the most vital thing to know is that it will achieve your desired results.

You may know you don’t want to use After Effects, but there is not one single alternative that will suit everyone’s needs.

If you want to create animated videos for promotion and don’t want to delve too deep into the world of Motion Graphics, we highly recommend you check out Moovly. This cost-effective solution to DIY video simplifies the animation process into an app-based workflow. It will feel familiar to anyone who has built a website, edited a photo, or used Instagram Stories.

If you want a bit more of a professional edge but don’t want to pay for the privilege, HitFilm Express is a great place to start. In fact, we recommend the entire HitFilm series throughout your editing journey. The familiar interface and intuitive workflow feel similar to After Effects, with a cost-effective upgrade to HitFilm Pro to build your tool kit.

Overall, Fusion is our favorite After Effects alternative. Fusion will allow you to create much more advanced compositions than After Effects and for a fraction of the cost. The Blackmagic community is supportive, with plenty of help out there for beginners. There may be a bit of a learning curve, but once you pick up node-based editing basics, all things become possible.

As you can see, there are many options for animation software, and while After Effects might be a great piece of kit, there are plenty of reasons why an alternative might be more suitable. The software you choose should be guided by what you want to achieve first; a lot of time goes into learning how to use these tools, so be sure of your reasons when choosing the platform for you.