12 Best Adobe After Effects Alternatives in 2024 [Free & Paid]

Last Updated on Jul. 3, 2024 – by David Morgan
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Adobe After Effects has been the industry standard in visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing for 30 years. Professional VFX artists and editors have used After Effects in countless Hollywood films, video games, and television shows. 

As a video editing and special effects platform, After Effects is an uncontested favorite amongst seasoned editors. But it comes with a sharp learning curve and a significant price tag that leaves many searching for an Adobe After Effects alternative.

There are several great Adobe After Effects alternatives that deliver similar results and make high-quality video enhancement easier and faster than their much-pricier Adobe counterpart.

We’ve made a list of the best paid and free After Effects alternatives. There is something on our list for every skill level, from beginner to advanced, and every kind of editor - Hollywood professional, influencer, hobbyist, business owner, and more. So let’s dive in!

Snapshot of Our Top 3 Adobe After Effects Alternatives

PowerDirector Logo

1. PowerDirector - Best Overall

PowerDirector is the best Adobe After Effects alternative because it offers quality motion graphics and animation effects that professionals will appreciate and beginners will find easy to use. It is the complete editing package with all the tools you need to start and finish a VFX-heavy video. There is a version of PowerDirector for everyone, with free and paid options available. Detailed Review >

Blackmagic Fusion Logo

2. Blackmagic Fusion - Best for Broadcast Graphics

Blackmagic Fusion is a free After Effects alternative with advanced compositing software for visual effects artists, broadcast and motion graphic designers, and 3D animators. It has been used to create visual effects and digital compositing in professional-level commercials, TV shows, and feature films. Detailed Review >

Blender Logo

3. Blender - Best for Animators

Blender is an open-source, free After Effects alternative with advanced motion graphics and essential editing tools. it’s an all-in-one package for intermediate to advanced users. Detailed Review >

How to Choose the Best Adobe After Effects Alternative


The first question to ask yourself is if you want a paid or free After Effects alternative. If you are a beginner or just need minimal VFX for your social media videos, then a free After Effects alternative should do the trick. However, if you are a professional, you may need to pay to get the features you require. If you decide to pay for software, you need to decide on a realistic budget. The Adobe After Effects alternatives on our Paid list range from more affordable than After Effects to much more expensive. 


VFX software tends to require a lot of RAM and CPU. And the more advanced the software, the more it will require. Make sure you have the proper computer and the correct OS to handle your preferred Adobe After Effects alternative.


These are not one-size-fits-all Adobe After Effects alternatives. It is important to know how you plan to use the software and make a list of the tools you need. Also decide if you only need VFX software, or an all-in-one VFX and video editing software.

Skill Level 

Many of you are looking for an Adobe After Effects alternative because you want software that is easier to use. Others may be professionals who are looking for something even more advanced than what Adobe has to offer. We have options on our list to cover all of you - from first-timers to professional VFX artists. Just make sure to pick an Adobe After Effects alternative that matches your skill level, to save yourself hours of frustration. 

download PhotoDirector-one of the best bing image creator alternative

How We Test Adobe After Effects Alternatives

Here's a breakdown of how we test Adobe After Effects alternatives to bring you the very best:

Prepare a Test Video

First, we create a test project. We need footage we can use to add motion graphics, try out motion tracking, remove backgrounds, etc. We also come up with titles and credit sequences we can try to make using each product. Using the same footage and attempting the same effects makes it easier for us to do a direct comparison.

Explore Adobe After Effects

We need to know the ins and outs of After Effects before we can decide if the software is a worthy alternative. We make a list of its features and test them using the same criteria we use for the Adobe After Effects alternatives.

Test/Compare Features

Now we can begin testing Adobe After Effects alternatives. We test features across 3 categories - motion graphics/animation, VFX/compositing, and basic video editing with effects. We make a note of the number of features offered, if there are fewer/ more features than in After Effects, and compare the quality of the results.

Compare Workflow and Performance

While testing features, we are also comparing the overall editing experience of each program. This includes the user interface (is it clean or cluttered, modern or outdated?), navigation (is it easy to find tools? Are they categorized in a way that makes sense?), performance (any lags or glitches?), and speed (did it take a long time to import files or render effects?).

Conduct Online Research

We want an overall picture of each Adobe After Effects alternative, so we explore each product’s website to see how regularly it is updated. We also read real user reviews to learn about the customer service and business practices of each software. And finally, we look at the online community and support available to see if there are resources available to help new users.

Adobe After Effects Alternatives Comparison Chart

Product Best For Notable Feature Price Download Link
PowerDirector Video editing with effects at any skill level Frame-by-frame motion tracking and object detection Free
Premium: $4/58/month
Secure Download
Blackmagic Fusion Broadcast graphics Multipoly rotoscoping tool to remove tricky objects Free
Blender Animators 3D painting with textured brushes Free Download
Natron Flexibility Unlimited layers of masks, shapes, and mattes Free Download
Wax Beginners 3D compositing with objects, lighting, shadows, and texture Free Download
HitFilm VFX 3D camera tracking Free
Create: $7.99/month
Pro: $12.99/month
Nuke Professionals CopyCat mode for automating mundane tasks Free Pro: $3,469/year (Student and Indie pricing is available) Download
Houdini Simulations Create life-like crowds with Rag-Doll Dynamics Free Pro: $1,340/year (Student and Indie pricing is available) Download
Apple Motion Final Cut Pro users 100 drag-and-drop behaviors for motion titles $49.99 Download
Cinema 4D Aspiring 3D artists Realistic particles and simulations $1,199/year (Student pricing is available) Download
VEGAS Post Chroma key effects Warp-Flow face morphing effect $399 or $191.88/year Download
Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Intermediate editors Cloning of characters or objects $129.99 Download

PowerDirector vs

Best For

Video editing with effects at any skill level


Notable Feature

Frame-by-frame motion tracking and object detection



Premium: $4/58/month


The Best Free Adobe After Effects Alternatives - Ranked

  • PowerDirector for video editing with effects at any skill level
  • Blackmagic Fusion for broadcast graphics
  • Blender for animators
  • Natron for flexibility
  • Wax for beginners
  • HitFilm for VFX
  • Best Overall


    PowerDirector is a free After Effects alternative that offers a variety of top-rated video editing and special effects tools for Windows and Mac, making it easy to edit videos and create polished, professional-grade visual effects from one convenient location. PowerDirector comes as both paid and free After Effects alternatives to match any budget and has tools for both beginners and pros. Independent filmmakers, YouTubers, business owners, and hobbyists can use PowerDirector’s robust toolset to fulfill all their video editing needs.      

    PowerDirector has unique, AI-powered tools like sky replacement, object detection, speech enhancement, and wind removal. With Smart Background Music, you can automatically fit music to the length of your video. This free After Effects alternative also includes a host of premium features such ascutting-edge mask tools, motion controls, compositing effects, video overlays, frame-by-frame motion tracking, manual color adjustments, and a powerful chroma key tool. 

    If you opt for the reasonably priced PowerDirector 365, you will get access to an 8,000,000+ photo, video, and music stock library. You’ll also have access to thousands of unique design packs of premade effects and templates. 

    In all, PowerDirector packs a punch with an array of pro-level VFX, color, and motion tools that can be applied automatically and adjusted manually, making it the best Adobe After Effects alternative for all skill levels. And unlike many of the other free After Effects alternatives on our list, PowerDirector is updated monthly, so you always have access to the latest technologies and trends. Newly added features include AI Auto Face Blur and AI Anime Effect, plus enhancements to the UI, background remover, keyframe controls, and body effects tool.

    • Great for beginners, with an intuitive user interface, AI-powered one-click effects, and easy-to-use tools
    • A completely free After Effects alternative you can use with no expiration date, and an affordable paid version with even more features
    • Advanced users can manually adjust every effect with precision
    • A fully-featured video editor that lets you complete projects from start to finish without additional software
    • World-renowned image, video, and music stock libraries are only available with a subscription

    Key Features:

    1. Add or remove text, graphics, and VFX to moving objects using AI Motion Tracking, Body Effects, and Object Detection
    2. Use multi-key color sampling to remove and replace your background without a green screen
    3. Layer and blend videos in 9 different ways to create surreal imagery
    4. Add animated titles easily with templates that include motion graphics and sound effects

    Compatibility: Windows, Mac

    PCMag Rating: 5/5

    Motion Graphics: 5/5

    Price: Free
    *Premium subscription available for $4.58/month

    You can download this free After Effects alternative by clicking the link below:

    Check out these related topics for video editing:

    Best for broadcast graphics

    Blackmagic Fusion

    Blackmagic Fusion Interface

    Blackmagic Fusion is a free After Effects alternative and advanced compositing software for visual effects artists, broadcast and motion graphic designers, and 3D animators. We found it to be a great tool for automating repetitive broadcast graphics and updating them live. Not only can you use Fusion to create animated broadcast promotions and station idents, but also VFX for commercials, TV shows, and feature films.

    Fusion is a node-based system that allows a large amount of flexibility. Mix and match footage of different resolutions, aspect ratios, and formats within a single project. Animation curve modifiers will automatically change animations when the duration of the composition changes. There are traditional text formatting controls, plus 3D extrusion, reflections, bump maps, shadows, and more. This free After Effects alternative uses GPU acceleration, which means you can instantly see how atmospheric effects like fog or mist will interact within a scene, without waiting for rendering. 

    If you have never worked in a node-based editor, it will require some patience and time to learn but the results will be worth it. Also, many of the leading VFX/motion graphics software use a node-based system, so if you are looking to do this as a career, that knowledge will come in handy. Fusion is not an Adobe After Effects alternative for beginners or those looking for fast results. Fusion is available as a free After Effects alternative in DaVinci Resolve, which is a great option if you need a full post-production studio on a budget. You can also get it as a full-paid version in Fusion Studio, which has an almost identical set of features but adds collaboration tools and integrations with 3rd-party software. Fusion added an expanded set of USD tools and a new multipoly rotoscoping tool since our last review

    • Import 3D models from Maya, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, Photoshop, and more
    • A robust free After Effects alternative and affordable pro-level paid option
    • Difficult for new users, even those proficient in After Effects

    Key Features:

    1. Remove any color background with the cleanest possible keys and matte finesse controls
    2. Add 3D particle effects that simulate gravity, friction, turbulence, bounce, and more
    3. Automatically track, match move, remove, and stabilize objects

    Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

    G2 Rating: 4.2/5

    Motion Graphics: 5/5

    Price: Free
    *Fusion Studio available for $295

    Best for Animators


    Blender Interface

    Image from Blender Artists.

    Blender is an open-source free After Effects alternative perfect for anything from video editing and compositing to creating special effects, 3D applications, and more. It features tools for all types of animation but specializes in 3D animation and modeling. Users can complete anything from basic video editing actions (cutting, splicing) to more challenging editing tasks (grading, masking). This broad capability makes Blender a popular free After Effects alternative for intermediate and advanced video editors alike, a level of accessibility that has earned Blender rave reviews from across the VFX community. 

    Blender is a more-than-worthy free After Effects alternative – especially for those who enjoy broad customizability. It includes numerous filters, speed control functionality, keyframes, and transitions for performing complex video editing tasks. Blender’s wide-ranging capabilities also include motion tracking, 2D and 3D animation, and even particle simulation. 

    Blender is a great free After Effects alternative because it has all the advanced motion graphics tools you’d find in the expensive Adobe software, plus basic editing tools, making Blender an all-in-one package. There is a new version released every few months, and each update contains vast improvements. The newest version (4.1 at the time of this writing) contains new Geometry Nodes, Denoising for 3D video, and many performance enhancements. However, Blender has an extremely high learning curve, making this Adobe After Effects alternative the wrong choice for beginners.

    • Highly supportive community that is ready to offer help through chat rooms, artist forums, email lists, and even an annual conference (BCON)
    • Regular new releases with quality-of-life improvements and new tools
    • Complex software with an unintuitive interface that makes it hard to find the tools you need
    • Crashing and lags reported by users with older computers

    Key Features:

    1. Paint in 3D with textured brushes and masking
    2. Enjoy automatic and manual tracking with powerful camera reconstruction
    3. Make animation easier with onion skinning, sound synchronization, a pose editor, and more

    Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

    PCMag Rating: 4/5

    Motion Graphics: 5/5

    Price: Free

    Best for Flexibility


    Natron Interface

    Natron is a visual effects platform and free After Effects alternative specializing in open-sourced digital compositing, rotopainting, and 2D tracking solutions for VFX professionals. Effects creators and editors typically use Natron for its flexibility, especially its flexible Roto and Rotopaint tools for unlimited layers of masks, shapes, and mattes. 

    Natron makes special effects and video editing solutions easier to find, access, and use than other video effects programs, including Adobe After Effects, making it a fantastic free After Effects alternative. And like Fusion, Natron is node-based and employs many node organizational tools.

    This visual effects software is a cross-platform, free After Effects alternative for anyone preferring more control over After Effects-related functions – and who enjoys a higher level of interface customization. In our research, we saw many users compared it to Nuke because they have a similar interface and functionality. If you are a Nuke user looking for a free alternative, Natron could fit the bill. However, your results may not be as high-quality, and the program has stability issues, especially when dealing with complex effects. Natron is maintained by the community, so you may have to wait a long time between updates, and there is limited support if issues arise. We think it’s best as a learning tool, but not necessarily for professional projects.

    • Fast rendering and real-time playback with RAM/Disk cache technology
    • Includes 250+ community plug-ins, including all OpenFX plug-ins
    • Can crash if dealing with large files
    • Does not support 3D effects creation

    Key Features:

    1. Quickly edit clips and keyframes in time-space
    2. Apply powerful 2D and Planar tracking
    3. Generate unlimited layers of masks with multi-layered rotoscoping

    Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

    Capterra Rating: 4.3/5

    Motion Graphics: 4/5

    Price: Free

    Best for Beginners


    Wax Interface

    Wax serves as an efficient video editing and special effects Adobe After Effects alternative, providing a simple, easy-to-use editing platform without the complexities or cost of Adobe software. As a video editing resource, Wax’s simple user interface design may initially throw a few people off, though the tool’s multitude of effects and useful features more than make up for it. Wax is high-performance, easy to grasp, and offers a special effects capability that keeps it on par with others in the VFX market. 

    Used for both commercial and personal use, this free After Effects alternative provides graphics acceleration for creating mind-boggling effects in real-time. Wax has 3D compositing with objects, lighting, shadows, texture, and more. It also offers project management with media bins and folders for ease of use.

    If Wax’s user interface and website look like they haven’t been updated since the 2000s, that’s because they haven’t. The latest version of Wax was released in 2008 and therefore lacks the advanced tools and latest technology present in most Adobe After Effects alternatives. But the software is easy to learn, completely free, and won’t take up room on your computer, making it a great learning tool for beginners. Wax is great for compositing and works both as a standalone tool and a software plugin for VEGAS Post and Adobe Premiere Pro.  

    • Beginner-friendly
    • Lightweight on computer resources
    • Only supports AVI and WAV video formats
    • Outdated interface

    Key Features:

    1. Make unique effects easily with hundreds of available presets
    2. Add layers of videos, sounds, and images and create interesting composites
    3. Utilize 3D compositing with 3D objects, lighting, shadows, texture generators, etc.

    Compatibility: Windows

    G2 Rating: 3.8/5

    Motion Graphics: 4/5

    Price: Free

    Best for VFX


    HitFilm Pro Interface

    HitFilm is another solid free After Effects alternative, providing professional-quality video editing software. It’s a 3D compositor, visual effects tool, and comprehensive video editor all rolled into one. HitFilm provides reliable high-speed effects and video editing to users around the world. It’s a capable free After Effects alternative that allows beginners and low-budget filmmakers to add cinematic effects to their films without the need for a pricey Adobe subscription.

    Currently, HitFilm maintains a catalog of more than 127 visual effects in the free version and 322 in the Pro plan. With this free After Effects alternative you can animate images and characters, use waveforms for audio element visualization, import 3D models, and apply behavioral effects to your videos. HitFilm has 3D muzzle flashes for any kind of weapon, and a library of sci-fi effects like lasers and star fields. There is also a puppet tool that adds natural motion to graphics, shapes, and text. And it offers unlimited audio and video tracks for unlimited creativity.

    In general, HitFilm’s unique mix of VFX and video editing makes it much easier than After Effects, although beginners may have a slight learning curve. It comes packed with professional VFX tools but takes up a ton of computer space as a result. For the last several years, HitFilm has been updated every few months, but it has been almost a year since the last release, with no sign of things to come on the website. HitFilm’s blog and YouTube channel have also been eerily silent, which makes us wonder about the future of this free After Effects alternative. For these reasons, we have moved HitFilm to the bottom of the free After Effects alternatives.

    • A familiar interface will make HitFilm an easy Adobe After Effects alternative for current subscribers
    • Supports various plug-ins such as Boris 3D Objects and Foundry 3D Camera Tracker
    • Many of the VFX features are watermarked in the free version
    • High system requirements
    • Slow rendering

    Key Features:

    1. Track a point in your video and apply graphics, text, or effects
    2. Create 3D with geometry effects, 3D camera tracking, and 3D object integration
    3. Hundreds of professional presets and filters for color correction and color grading

    Compatibility: Windows, Mac

    PCMag Rating: 3/5

    Motion Graphics: 4.5/5

    Price: Free
    *Premium subscriptions available for $7.99/month for Creator or $12.99/month for Pro

    The Best Paid Adobe After Effects Alternatives - Ranked

  • Nuke for professionals
  • Houdini for simulations
  • Apple Motion for Final Cut Pro users
  • Cinema 4D for aspiring 3D artists
  • VEGAS Post for chroma key effects
  • Pinnacle Studio Ultimate for intermediate editors
  • Best for Professionals


    Nuke Interface

    Nuke is a cutting-edge Adobe After Effects alternative for professionals looking for node-based compositing, 3D tracking, and model building. Nuke is typically seen as a family of programs consisting of Nuke, NukeX, and Nuke Studio. Together they provide flexibility and collaborative workflows for the highest quality results possible. 

    Nuke has Deep Image compositing tools for images that contain multiple opacity and colors. With Nuke, there’s no need to re-render elements when content changes. This Adobe After Effects alternative has a suite of machine learning tools that automatically complete tasks with the CopyCat node, such as matte generation, removing motion blur, and more. Finally, Nuke offers a limitless 3D environment where users can create scenes composed of 3D models, 2D footage, cameras, lights, and so on. 

    If you are looking for the industry standard for compositing, Nuke is it. It is more expensive than After Effects but for good reason. Nuke is regularly updated with bug fixes, enhancements, new features, and video tutorials. In our last review, we placed Houdini on top because it was more affordable and offered lower-priced options for students, educators, and independent filmmakers. However, Nuke has since added a free, non-commercial, non-watermarked version for anyone who wants to learn the software. It also has massively discounted versions for solo artists, students, and educators. The added accessibility and rising online review scores have moved it to the top of our list of paid Adobe After Effects alternatives.

    • Share Nuke scripts, and parallelize work using LiveGroups for easy collaboration whether in the same room or across the globe
    • Used by major studios to create VFX for Game of Thrones, The Crown, Jurassic World, Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse, and many more
    • High learning curve meant for VFX professionals
    • The most expensive Adobe After Effects alternative on our list

    Key Features:

    1. Easy color management with support for OpenColorIO & ACES
    2. Use custom geometry for a powerful 3D workflow that is rendered with ease
    3. Automate mundane tasks with robust APIs and efficient animation toolsets

    Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

    Capterra Rating: 4.8/5

    Motion Graphics: 5/5

    Price: Free

    *Premium subscriptions are available starting at $3,469/year

    Best for Simulations


    Houdini Interface

    Image from SideFX.

    Houdini is a professional Adobe After Effects alternative for CG and VFX artists working in film, television, or gaming industries. We think it is best for creating realistic simulations. Create explosions with fire, smoke, dust, or debris and define every aspect such as viscosity, surface tension, and collision rate. Perfectly control fluids, snow, sand, and cloth using Houdini’s multi-physics environment.

    Houdini is probably the best 3D modeling software on the market. Use this Adobe After Effects alternative to create instant crowds or stampedes and apply rag-doll dynamics, terrain adaptation, and crowd layout adjustment to precisely control the movement. 

    There’s a bit of a good news/bad news situation for anyone willing to give Houdini a try. As you may have guessed, Houdini has an incredibly steep learning curve. It can also get very expensive if you want to utilize all that this Adobe After Effects alternative has to offer. However, Houdini offers a discounted Indie version (with all the tools found in FX) for companies that make less than $100,000 a year. There’s also a free watermarked version for noncommercial projects and a very affordable version for Educators. Houdini has a new launch every couple of years that updates and improves every aspect of the software. The latest version (20), has launched since our last review and includes hundreds of enhancements and new workflows. 

    • Students, educators, and small businesses can get the software at a much cheaper rate
    • High-quality output good enough for Hollywood
    • For professionals or future VFX artists only

    Key Features:

    1. Create destructive simulations with various forces, constraints, and collisions using the Bullet-Rigid Body Solver
    2. Integrate effects with cloth, hair, and fur with the Vellum Multi-Solver
    3. Maintain construction history to create complex cityscapes and environments with procedural modeling

    Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

    PC Mag Rating: 4.5/5

    Motion Graphics: 5/5

    Price: Free

    *Premium subscriptions are available starting at $75/year for Students, $269/year for Indie, $1,340/year for Artists, and $1995/year for Studios

    Best for Final Cut Pro users

    Apple Motion

    Apple Motion Interface

    Image from Apple Support.

    Apple Motion is the perfect Adobe After Effects alternative for Final Cut Pro users because of how closely they are intertwined. They have very similar interfaces and you can use Apple Motion to create templates and themes for Final Cut. As usual, Apple has made a tool optimized to run seamlessly in their ecosystem. This helps decrease the need for rendering time. 

    This Adobe After Effects alternative is a powerful motion graphics tool used to create realistic effects in real-time. Create cinematic 2D and 3D titles from scratch, or with a pre-made template. Then animate your titles with one of over 100 drag-and-drop behaviors, and customize them with more than 90 3D materials like metal, wood, and stone. Transition any space from 2D to 3D, then set up shadows or reflective surfaces that move with the camera and lighting. 

    Though not as feature-heavy, Apple Motion is a great Adobe After Effects alternative for those interested in motion graphics, 2D and 3D compositing, and visual effects. Although it can be used as a stand-alone editor, the software really works best when paired with Final Cut Pro. Apple Motion is updated every few months, and since our last review, they have improved object tracking and fixed some bugs. 

    • High-quality output and fast rendering
    • You can do the same tasks in half the time when compared with other Adobe After Effects alternatives
    • Not as feature-rich as After Effects
    • Only for Mac/Final Cut Pro users

    Key Features:

    1. Remove backgrounds with accurate, one-step chroma key
    2. Emit particles with over 200 presets like smoke and sparkles
    3. Add a neon glow to text, graphics, videos, and more

    Compatibility: Mac

    G2 Rating: 4.2/5

    Motion Graphics: 5/5

    Price: $49.99

    Best for aspiring 3D artists

    Cinema 4D

    Cinema 4D Interface

    Image from Tool Farm.

    Cinema 4D is a professional 3D modeling and motion graphics software. It is easier to use and more intuitive than other professional software, and new features have helped eliminate the monotony that comes with modeling. This Adobe After Effects alternative also has thousands of video tutorials available, which makes this a realistic choice for beginners - especially those who want to create digital content as a career.   

    Cinema 4D uses a modeling and animation toolset called MoGraph to create high-quality and complex motion graphics quickly. Any object can be animated using keyframes, and you have your choice of manual, automatic, or parametric keyframing. With this Adobe After Effects alternative, you can also create realistic simulations such as smoke and fire, and define numerous aspects like smoke density, fire temperature, and so on. 

    While Houdini and Nuke are better professional software overall, Cinema 4D is much easier to learn and use. Sadly, it still has the same high price tag as the other 2 programs, which is why we recommend it only for professionals or beginners who are planning to go into 3D computer animation as a career. The price has gone up almost $500 a year since our last review, and it lacks a cheaper Indie version for small businesses and freelancers. Students, however, can try the software for a year for only $60. Cinema 4D is frequently updated, and the newest version includes a whole new Particle module, various enhancements, and Asset Browser improvements. 

    • Excellent beginner support including thousands of tutorials and Quick Tips
    • Easier than most professional software
    • Rigging and animation tools are not on par with other Adobe After Effects alternatives
    • Expensive

    Key Features:

    1. Add extra dimension to models based on a polygon selection or vertex map
    2. Paint detailed textures onto 3D objects with BodyPaint 3D
    3. Reduce entire hierarchies while preserving Vertex Maps, Selection tags, and UV coordinates

    Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux

    PCMag Rating: 4/5

    Motion Graphics: 5/5

    Price: $1,199/year 

    Best chroma key effect

    VEGAS Post

    Vegas Post Interface

    VEGAS Post is a professional all-in-one post production tool that incorporates video editing, visual effects, audio editing, and photo editing. It makes a great Adobe After Effects alternative for those who need more video and audio editing features in their VFX software. We found it had particularly strong chroma key tools thanks to its incorporation of Boris FX Primatte Studio. This Academy Award-nominated chroma key studio was used in The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter franchises, and features one-click background removal with various edge cleaner and spill removal tools.   

    This Adobe After Effects alternative has over 800 video effects and filters, including lighting and fire effects, motion graphics, and 3D model support. It comes with AI-powered tools such as black-and-white colorization, style transfer, and video upscaling. A subscription to VEGAS Post includes a 1-month ActionVFX starter subscription that allows you to download 5 credits from thousands of VFX assets.  

    VEGAS Post has an impressive list of tools to create a film from start to finish. It used to be known for massive stability issues, high price, and an incredibly steep learning curve, but with every update, VEGAS is getting better. The newest update brought time-saving AI-powered tools, such as Text-Based Editing and Smart Masks. The company wants to target content creators and has been trying to lower its price and learning curve, but they aren’t quite there yet. It still feels like a product for professionals only. Our top Adobe After Effects alternative, PowerDirector, offers robust video and audio editing and advanced effects but remains an affordable and easy option for beginners and hobbyists.  

    • Impressive color tools including RAW HDR support
    • Includes a robust video editor, a VFX studio, and a professional audio editor
    • Their target audience of content creators and editing enthusiasts will have trouble learning the software thanks to an unfriendly user interface
    • Slow rendering

    Key Features:

    1. Layer videos and images with alpha support and blending modes
    2. Apply tracking data to objects with changing perspectives
    3. Use Warp Flow to morph faces for a cool effect, or to transition from one clip to the next

    Compatibility: Windows

    G2 Rating: 4.3/5

    Motion Graphics: 4.5/5

    Price: $191.88/year or $399 for a Perpetual License  

    Best for intermediate editors

    Pinnacle Studio Ultimate

    Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Interface

    Image from PCMag.

    Pinnacle Studio Ultimate is an Adobe After Effects alternative that we feel is perfect for intermediate editors. It comes with lots of advanced effects and allows precise adjustments, yet it is just out of reach of pro-level software. It is also surprisingly easy to use. If you are an editing enthusiast needing fast and powerful software, Pinnacle Studio Ultimate could be for you. 

    This Adobe After Effects alternative has a great deal of masking tools, including Magic Wand and Paintbrush tools. You can create slow-motion and fast-motion effects, stabilize video, and edit from multiple cameras. Pinnacle’s powerful keyframing tool allows you to control each effect’s size, rotation, opacity, and more. You can even increase/decrease the effect over a specified time. 

    Pinnacle Studio Ultimate is the most like our choice for the best Adobe After Effects alternative, PowerDirector. Both programs have powerful VFX engines, yet remain beginner-friendly. Pinnacle has a history of stability and performance issues, and the newest release is focused mainly on bug fixes, product stability, core feature performance, UI improvements, and creating a more streamlined workflow.  

    • Covers a wide range of users
    • A fully-featured video editor for YouTube videos or VFX-heavy films
    • Getting an accurate mask can be tricky
    • Can be slow and lag/crash at times

    Key Features:

    1. Speed up and slow down video using keyframes
    2. Create superimposed effects by layering clips with blending modes
    3. Clone characters or objects to create unique montages and effects

    Compatibility: Windows

    PCMag Rating: 4/5

    Motion Graphics: 4/5

    Price: $129.99

    What is the Best Adobe After Effects Alternative?

    We’ve given you a long list of great Adobe After Effects alternatives. Since VFX and motion graphics are complicated features, many of the software on the list were good options for professionals, but not beginners or amateurs. Others were good for beginners but lacked some more advanced tools needed to make a high-quality video. 

    We chose PowerDirector as the number one Adobe After Effects alternative because it successfully bridges the gap between amateur and professional, with a user-friendly interface and After Effects-like features such as cutting-edge mask tools, motion controls, compositing effects, frame-by-frame motion tracking, chroma key, and more. This free After Effects alternative won PC Mag’s Best Video Editing Software Editor’s Choice award for 2024.

    Unlike many others on our list, PowerDirector is a superb stand-alone video editor, so you won’t have to download several different applications to finish a project. PowerDirector is offered in both a free version and a reasonably-priced paid version, so you can find the right set of tools for your skill-set and budget. 

    Download PowerDirector today by clicking the link below and start adding amazing, cinematic effects to your projects - quickly and easily.

    Adobe After Effects Alternatives FAQ

    1. What is Adobe After Effects?

    Adobe After Effects is a digital visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing software. It was initially released by Adobe in 1993 and is the industry standard in VFX and motion graphics software. As part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, After Effects works seamlessly with other Adobe software like Premiere Pro and Photoshop. 

    With After Effects, you can animate anything from logos to characters and even design in 3D space. You can create cinematic movie titles, intros, and transitions, remove objects or add fire and rain to a scene. 

    It can be used as an elementary video editor but is mainly used for post-production effects in conjunction with other software. 

    2. What is the best Adobe After Effects alternative for a beginner? 

    PowerDirector is the best Adobe After Effects alternative for beginners. It was designed to allow anyone to jump in and start creating with very little experience. The free version also gives users a chance to test it out before having to make any real commitment in either time or money.

    3. Can Blender replace After Effects?

    Blender is a good free After Effects alternative, though its numerous features and extensive functionality can often overwhelm inexperienced video and effects editors. After Effects provides tutorials and informational resources not available with Blender.

    4. Is Fusion as good as After Effects?

    Fusion and Adobe After Effects are similar in terms of visual effects and video editing performance, though Fusion may indeed be a better option for tasks like compositing.

    5. What features should I look for in an Adobe After Effects alternative? 

    The top ten features you should look for in an Adobe After Effects alternative are

    1. Chroma key
    2. Motion tracking
    3. Visual Effects
    4. Customizable effects/titles
    5. Animated titles
    6. PiP overlay
    7. Mask-design tools
    8. Compositing tools
    9. Motion blur effects
    10. 3D effects

    For an Adobe After Effects alternative that checks all these boxes, we recommend PowerDirector

    6. How much is After Effects?

    After Effects is $22.99/month on its own, or $59.99/month as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription.

    7. Is After Effects free? 

    No, Adobe offers a 7-day free trial, but after that, it is $22.99 per month.

    8. How to get After Effects for free? 

    Download PowerDirector if you need a free After Effects alternative. It is much easier than After Effects, has similar features, and comes with free and paid options.

    9. What is the disadvantage of Adobe After Effects? 

    There are several disadvantages to After Effects, which is why so many people need of an Adobe After Effects alternative. It is a difficult program for beginners to master, so many start with something easier before moving up to After Effects. The price is another deterrent. It costs $22.99 per month, and most editors will still need separate video editing software to complete their video projects. Some of the options on our list are full video editors that include VFX/motion graphics, but After Effects is purely visual effects software.

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