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Adobe After Effects has become an industry stable for compositing, motion graphics, animation, and editing.
It’s well-integrated with the Adobe Create Cloud and works flawlessly with other apps such as Premiere Pro, Illustrator, and Photoshop.
I use this combo daily in my professional work, and I love how well the different programs work together.
What I don’t love, however, is the hefty price tag and the monthly subscription. And I know many creatives hate paying a monthly subscription for an app.
So, below, I’ve created this list of the best Adobe After Effects alternatives for Mac, PC, and Linux.
You won’t get precisely the same possibilities as in After Effects, but with a combination of these, you can get similar results that look just as good.
1. DaVinci Resolve with Fusion from Blackmagic Design (Mac OSX, Windows PC, Linux)
DaVinci Resolve, combined with Fusion from Blackmagic Design, is a strong competitor to Premiere Pro and After Effects.
DaVinci Resolve started as a high-end node-based color grading tool – and is still considered one of the best on the market – but has recently added more and more video editing features so that it is now a full-blown competitor to Premiere Pro.
Fusion Studio is the competitor to Adobe After Effects and has, in recent years, added boatloads of new cool tools.
When you purchase Fusion, it is integrated into DaVinci Resolve, and you can access it by pressing the “Fusion Tab” at the bottom of the screen. This is nice as it is seamlessly integrated into the workflow you already know from DaVinci Resolve.
Fusion Studio offers GPU-accelerated 2D and 3D compositing and motion graphics. And you still get the node-based workflow you know from Resolve.
Tools include paint, rotoscoping, animation, chroma-keying, 3D particle systems, 3D-scenes support, and 3D models (3D models need an extra plug-in, such as Element 3D, to work in After Effects).
Whereas the basic version of DaVinci Resolve is free, if you own a newer Blackmagic Camera such as BMPCC4K, you can access the full version. You can also purchase the full version as a standalone.
2. Hitfilm Express by FXHome (Mac OS, Windows PC)
HitFilm Express is like having Premiere Pro and After Effects wrapped into a single free bundle.
The video editing part includes a timeline editor with playback, where you can do the basic things like cut and trim your video footage and edit audio.
Regarding motion design and visual effects, HitFilm Express also has you covered.
You’ll get all the essential tools like keyframe animation, compositing, and masking.
HitFilm Express also has visual effects, like 3D effects, motion blurs, video filters, lens distortion correction, and 360-degree video editing capabilities.
An extra nice little detail is, that HitFilm allows you to continue editing while you export your video, which is a nice feature if you’re working across multiple projects and don’t want to wait.
You’ll also get several audio filters for mixing your sound effects, speech, and music.
Hitfilm Express supports 4K video, lets you export MP4 and H.264 formats, and posts your videos directly onto YouTube.
Some of HitFilm’s 3D effects are provided separately as part of extension packs for anywhere from $7- $9.99. That’s cool if you need a particular effect for a project and don’t want to shell out for the whole package.
If you want everything, you can get the full Pro version instead.
Unfortunately, HitFilm Express isn’t available for Linux users.
3. Nuke by Foundry (Mac OS, Windows PC)
Nuke by Foundry is the industry standard heavyweight for handling VFX shots and compositing.
Most bigger studios use Nuke, so if you’re a student or independent filmmaker wanting to work in the business, making yourself comfortable using Nuke will let you make a painless transition to a VFX studio.
Like Fusion, Nuke is a node-based compositing application. It comes with all the bells and whistles in compositing tools, 3D-tracking, 3D-model building, and 3D scenes with lights, cameras, etc., you’d expect from a professional VFX program.
They also offer a lucrative deal for the indie filmmaker, giving you access to all the NukeX compositing tools and more.
But if you want standard commercial licensing, Nuke doesn’t come cheap.
4. Blender (Mac OS, Windows PC, Linux)
Blender is an incredibly powerful software that lets you do everything from 3D sculpting to video editing, compositing, and animating.
It even has a particle emitter, and you can get an extension for 3D printing.
Plus, it’s free to download and use – even commercially!
Blender has a large community of developers who make extensions that can do things like generating terrain, cities from maps, or objects like trees and clouds.
You can also import and export files from After Effects, Unreal Game Engine, and more.
I’ve used Blender several times, but I must say, I’ve never gotten used to the UI. Blender experts swear by it, and I guess the logic makes a lot of sense once you get used to it.
The Blender UI doesn’t adhere to standard UI practices, and you should expect to spend some time with some tutorials to familiarize yourself with the program before you start.
But once you know it, you can do everything from 3D modeling to VFX to video editing within this single program.
Blender is free and open-source, but you can donate to the continual developing of the program if you want.
But you can purchase extra plug-ins designed by users of Blender if you want.
5. Motion from Apple (Mac OS)
You can use Motion for compositing, creating motion graphics, titles, transitions, and more. You can also work with 360° VR video and color grading within the program.
Motion also supports 2D and 3D graphics and has built-in particle systems for creating smoke, snow, and starbursts.
Motion covers all the basics and is available at only $49.99 at the time of writing.
Unfortunately, this being Apple, Motion is only available for Mac OS computers.
So there you have it. The five best alternatives to Adobe After Effects range from free, open-source software to the big boys in the biz.
I like that you can get a lot of paid and free plug-ins and presets to expand the possibilities further.
Did I forget to mention an important program? Please let me know in the comment section below.