Unless you have been living under a pre-digital rock, it is no surprise that After Effects has been the mainstream app for motion graphics and visual effects for multiple decades. They have been a sort of omnipotent figure in the creative digital realm. From newbies to pros, anyone can easily learn some aspect of the program, especially with so many tutorials available for this staple app. But it might surprise you can find really good After Effects alternatives.

There are multiple apps, both new and seasoned, who closely compete with the reputable After Effects. Some may not be exact alternatives, but I guarantee that you will find an suitable substitute to fit your needs. You may be a newbie who doesn’t want to invest time and effort into a paid app. You’re looking for something always free that you can learn and stick to for your occasional projects. Or maybe you want to invest in a software, but don’t like the idea of a monthly subscription. you prefer to pay “one-and-done”.

Or perhaps you are looking to improve your workflow and find an app that will allow you to work faster. After all, there is no one-size-fits-all for app preference. Or maybe After Effects doesn’t go enough in depth in your field of study, such as visual effects or compositing 3D modeling, and you want an app that is more tailored to your work. Or finally, it may be that you tried AE and your trial version has expired and you are simply looking for something a little different.

There are many scenarios that would compel someone to stray from the mainstream and try something else. And that is precisely why I have compiled a list of my favorite and/or the best After Effects alternatives. I even simplified the task for you by writing a detailed overview of After Effects’ biggest competitors in the game. Hopefully that takes the guesswork out finding a new program for you to start maximizing your productivity.

To accomplish this, I have sampled and reviewed the Top 7 Best Free After Effects alternative apps that you can download and try without risk. And if you have the budget for it and want to improve your skills and workflow, I have also reviewed the Top 5 paid alternatives for After Effects.

In this blog post, I created an overview of the aforementioned After Effects alternatives and I provide the specifics while also comparing specs such as the learning curve, pros and cons, plug-ins, and resources. As mentioned before, there is no exact substitute for After effects. But you will find strong contenders in the game, which will undoubtedly assist you with video editing, visual effects, compositing, 3D modeling and animation.

Top Best free After Effects Alternative

1. Blender

Blender is a completely free and open source 3D software it was started in 2002 by an independent organization. Similar to Cinema4D, Maya and 3Ds Max you can create amazing 3D animation, modeling, simulation, rigging, compositing, rendering and motion tracking, video editing and even game creation.

Like After Effects Blender have a solid community and tutorials that allows user to get going and produce 3D work and animation efficiently. one of the main difference  is that blender is animation node based where After Effects animation are timeline based.
Although there are video editing feature in Blender working on a simple video editing and transition might not be as easy as After Effects specially if you do not have previous experience in video editing.

In conclusion blender is a super solid software where you should be able to create high end quality 3D animation with much more features than After Effects.

Blender Features:

  1. Rendering
  2. Modeling
  3. Sculpting
  4. Animation and Rigging
  5. Grease Pencil
  6. Visual Effects
  7. Simulation
  8. Import | Export
    Image Format
    JPEG, JPEG2000, PNG, TARGA, OpenEXR, DPX, Cineon, Radiance HDR, SGI Iris, TIFF
    Video Fornat
    AVI, MPEG and Quicktime (on OSX).
    3D Format
    Alembic, 3D Studio (3DS), COLLADA (DAE), Filmbox (FBX), Autodesk (DXF), Wavefront (OBJ), DirectX (x), Lightwave (LWO), Motion Capture (BVH), SVG, Stanford PLY, STL, VRML, VRML97, X3D.
  9. Video Editing
  10. Scripting
  11. Customizable Interface

Operating Systems: Windows | Mac | Linux

Price: Free

Visit the Blender Website

PROS

Great Helping Community

Free & Open Source

Many Resources and Tutorials

CONS

Learning Curve

 Intimidating Interface

Project file can’t be imported in After Effects

2. DaVinci Resolve

Davinci Resolve Features: 

  1. Advanced 2D and 3D Compositing
  2. VR
  3. Motion Graphic
  4. Rotoscope
  5. Titling
  6. Keying
  7. 3D Particles
  8. GPU acceleration
  9. 360º panoramic workspace enable real-time editing with headset for VR scenes.

DaVinci Resolve doesn’t use layers like After Effects but it uses nodes that make it very powerful for compositing and visual effects. Davinci Resolve is one of the best alternative for After Effects and clearly a strong competitor, how ever with 20 year of experience in after effects I found davinci resolve not straight forward and hit a few bugs while testing the free version.

Fusion 17 which is the paid version has more render features here is a comparison table to see the difference between davinci and fusion 17

Like After Effects Davinci Resolve is well know in the feature film industry and has been use for big production movie such as Avata, Deadpool, Dark Phoenix…

Operating Systems: Windows | Mac | Linux

Price: Free
Pro Version Studio 17 Price: $295

Visit the Davinci Resolve Website

PROS

2D and  3D Compositing

Visual Effects

Color Correction

GPU Acceleration

CONS

360 or VR Tool not Available

 Color correction

Basic Effects

Limited Resources