Video Editing Showdown: After Effects vs. Premiere Pro


I use Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects daily, and together, they make a strong team in video editing and post-production.

If you’re unfamiliar with Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes After Effects and Premiere Pro, among other excellent programs, it can get confusing as to which program does what exactly.

And the main question I often see is whether you can use Adobe After Effects for video editing.

The short answer is yes, you can use Adobe After Effects (AE) for video editing. The program shares features with Non-Linear Editors (NLEs), such as Premiere Pro and Final Cut. But in AE, you can do much more regarding special effects than in NLEs. That said, editing a video is much easier in a dedicated NLE. Also, working with audio and sound effects is easier in an NLE due to a different layout and user interface.

That was a lot of info. So, let’s go into more detail about After Effects and Premiere Pro below.

What is Adobe After Effects?

Bilkirkegården screenshot After Effects Custom
Screenshot 1: After Effects User Interface layout.

So, what exactly do you use After Effects for?

Adobe After Effects is a versatile program for producing visual effects in video post-production.

As the name implies, Adobe After Effects is thought of as a way to add visual effects after you’ve edited your footage in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Whether you want to do something simple as animating a 2D title effect for a video introduction, creating a lightsaber effect, or building a 3D-world After Effects, you can do it.

After Effects has great compositing tools, which enable you to combine multiple layers, videos, and images to create your worlds.

It is easy to shoot a scene with a camera and then add tracking markers in 3D space to insert text, graphics, or even a Tie Fighter.

You can also do advanced 3D planar tracking, green screen keying and rotoscoping.

DI mocha2 Custom
Screenshot 2: Rotoscoping and planar tracking are also possible in After Effects with the in-built version of Mocha.

Another cool thing is that you can use third-party plug-ins in AE, which makes the program even more powerful.

Some of these plug-ins are pretty expensive, but you can get a lot of really cool, high-quality plug-ins, which are available for free.

As an example of what you can easily do in After Effects, here’s a quick and fun experiment I did a couple of days ago to see if I could recreate the Mind Flayer from the series Stranger Things:

After Effects works similarly to video editing programs like Premiere Pro and Final Cut.

For example, you can work non-destructively with your footage, use multiple layers for audio and video, color correction and color grading, and work with effects and transitions for video, audio, motion graphics, and text.

I use After Effects daily, from simple titles and similar motion graphics to 2D animated explainer videos and 3D special effects.

What is Adobe Premiere Pro?

Bilkirkegården screenshot Premiere Pro Custom
Here’s the same scene as the screenshot one above. The clip with the old car has been manipulated in AE and brought back into the timeline in Premiere Pro.

Adobe Premiere Pro is a video editing application designed for… well, video editing.

It is designed for arranging and editing your video footage in a non-destructive way, i.e., you can cut up your footage and add/remove effects without affecting the original files.

Adobe Premiere Pro is a Non-Linear Editor (or NLE), which means you can arrange and rearrange your footage non-linearly by placing video and audio on tracks on top of each other.

Compare this to the old linear Windows Movie Maker, where you could only place a video clip before or after another video clip. The video editing features in the online YouTube video editor are also still linear.

Non-linear editing is a breeze and makes working with video and audio much easier – from the first rough cut to the final assembled video production.

Furthermore, you can also add visual effects, text, motion graphics, and more.

You can do anything in Premiere Pro, from basic to advanced video editing – from cutting up and arranging your footage to working with multiple camera angles, color correction and color grading, audio mixing, and much more.

When you want to start working with advanced effects and 3D scenes, you need to take your project into After Effects.

After Effects vs Premiere Pro. So what is the difference?

Animated explainer video rigging Custom
In AE, you can rig your characters for animation. Here’s a cute little guy for an explainer video I recently made for a client. I drew the guy in Adobe Illustrator and then brought him into After Effects for puppet rigging and later animation.

While Premiere Pro is excellent for video editing, After Effects shines when creating advanced visual effects for your footage; the two programs complement each other.

And if you use Adobe Creative Cloud, you can even open footage in After Effects for extra effects manipulation directly from your timeline in Premiere Pro.

Not only that but the programs are also well-integrated with Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator.

I often find myself with all four programs open at the same time. I might have Illustrator open to change a vector for use in motion graphics quickly. I use Photoshop to create textures for integrating into 3D visual effects scenes.

So, while making a video from start to finish in both After Effects and Premiere Pro is technically possible, each program has a different set of features and a different user interface.

Premiere Pro has great editing tools and a great layout for cutting and arranging video, while AE has great tools for advanced effects.

But what about Final Cut?

I often see whether Premiere Pro or Final Cut is better.

If you don’t know, Final Cut is an NLE similar to Premiere Pro.

If you’re on PC, the answer is easy because Final Cut can only be used on a Mac.

Another nice thing about Premiere Pro is that it is cross-platform, i.e., you can use Premiere Pro on both systems.

While you can do many of the same things in both programs, I must say that the integration with After Effects makes Premiere Pro a much more powerful choice.

Is Adobe After Effects and Premiere Pro Difficult to Use?

Premiere and After Effects can seem daunting when you first open them.

And it does take a bit of time to get to know each program. But they are not more difficult to learn than any other NLEs on the market like Final Cut or similar.

When you download each program, Adobe has some great beginner tutorials, which are included. And if you need extra help, search on YouTube, and you’ll find anything you’ll ever need.

If you still have questions, Adobe has an official forum for all the programs where you can find answers to most questions.



If you want to use Adobe Premiere Pro or After Effects, you must buy a subscription.

You can pay for a single month or subscribe for a whole year, decreasing the monthly cost.

If you license Premiere Pro or After Effects, you can get each program for approximately $21 monthly (annual subscription).

But if you need both, it doesn’t make much sense not to get the full Creative Cloud Plan subscription because the price difference is so tiny.

For a few extra bucks a month, you get access to the whole package, which includes Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, InDesign, Audition, Media Encoder, and much more.

You can get a significant discount if you’re a student or a teacher. You pay approximately the same for Adobe Creative Cloud with all applications as the rest of us mere mortals have to pay if we license just a single program.

However, there’s also a free trial period for each program so that you can test it out for yourself.

And if you sign up, you even get one month free of Adobe Stock, which is Adobe’s vast library of stock photos and videos, vectors, templates for Illustrator and InDesign, and more.


I hope this article will help you better understand the differences and similarities between Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Both Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects are worth it. I use them daily for various projects, from simple video editing tasks to creating animated explainer videos and advanced visual effects.

The two programs complement each other in many ways and are well integrated into a single workflow.

If you plan to get both, you should opt for the full Adobe Creative Cloud instead.

For an approximately extra $10-11 per month (annual subscription), you’ll get full access to the whole package, including Photoshop, Lightroom, Illustrator, and so many more, which is worth the few extra bucks.

And the extra programs will let you do even more for your video production in Premiere and AE.


  • Jan Sørup

    Jan Sørup is a indie filmmaker, videographer and photographer from Denmark. He owns and the Danish company Apertura, which produces video content for big companies in Denmark and Scandinavia. Jan has a background in music, has drawn webcomics, and is a former lecturer at the University of Copenhagen.

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