12 Best After Effects Alternatives in 2023: Free & Cheap

By Eva Williams 15 days ago, Software reviews

We all know that After Effects is a powerhouse when it comes to visual effects and compositing. It's practically an industry standard. But let's face it, it can be quite pricey, especially for independent filmmakers or small businesses.

But fear not. There are many After Effects alternatives with ability to effortlessly combine different footage, overlay text, titles, and graphics, etc. Whether you're looking to save money or simply want to try something new, these programs have got your back.


Warning: In any case, After Effects provides a plethora of adaptability and possibilities for both amateur and professional video designers. It's a daunting VFX tools, but there's very nothing you can't accomplish with it. The new features make it a more versatile tool.

Top 12 After Effects Alternatives to Try

blackmagic design fusion after effects alternative logo
Fusion 18
  • Free version
  • Pro - $295

hitfilm after effects alternative logo
Used in Hollywood Films
  • Free version
  • Pro - $7.99/mo

blender after effects alternative logo
Great for Beginners
  • Free

apple motion after effects alternative logo
Apple Motion
For Simple Animations
  • $49.99

unity after effects alternative logo
Real-Time Rendering
  • Free version
  • Pro - $399/ye

nuke after effects alternative logo
Physics Simulation Tools
  • Free trial
  • Pro - $3.299/yr

natron after effects alternative logo
Open Source
  • Free

powtoon after effects alternative logo
Many Templates
  • Free trial
  • Pro – from $15/mo

houdini after effects alternative logo
Complex Effects
  • Free version
  • Pro - $269/ye

cinema 4d after effects alternative logo
Cinema 4D
For Motion Artists
  • Free trial
  • Pro – from $112.64/mo

wax after effects alternative logo
Many Monitors Support
  • Free

cavalry after effects alternative logo
AR and VR Editing
  • Free version
  • Pro – from $16/mo

1. Blackmagic Design Fusion - Node-Based Compositing System

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  • Wide range of file formats and resolutions
  • Improved user interface
  • Great color-grading capabilities
  • Full compatibility
  • Intimidating for newcomers

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free version, Fusion Studio 18 - $295

Why Choose It: One major advantage is its node-based compositing system, which allows for a more efficient workflow in building complex effects. This might be a bit intimidating for newcomers, but it's worth learning because it offers more flexibility compared to After Effects' layer-based system. Many professionals actually prefer Fusion because of this.

Another advantage is that Fusion is included in DaVinci Resolve studio, which is an all-in-one post-production software. This means you not only get compositing capabilities, but also video editing, color correction, and even advanced stereoscopic 3D tools for creating virtual reality videos. It's a favorite among film and TV-series producers who need to composite digital elements into footage for a more realistic look.

The latest version of Blackmagic Design Fusion comes with improved and upgraded tools. The user interface has been redesigned to be cleaner and easier to navigate. The color-grading capabilities have also been enhanced, and there's support for more plug-ins. Plus, there's a built-in engine for creating particle simulations, animated text, and other effects.

2. HitFilm - Used in Hollywood Films

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  • Fast composition workflows
  • Easy to use
  • Quick 3D presets and Chroma Key
  • Non-linear editing tools
  • May not be suitable for larger studios
  • Lacks some features

Compatibility: Windows, Mac
Pricing: Free version, Pro – from $7.99/mo

Why Choose It: HitFilm offers fast composition workflows and is known for being easy to use. It provides quick 3D presets and a Chroma Key feature that helps with green screen removal. The software also boasts a range of tracking tools, making it appealing to YouTubers and low-budget filmmakers. With over 880 effects and a comprehensive range of non-linear editing tools, it's a powerful suite for video editing and visual effects.

One of the biggest advantages of HitFilm is its simplicity. It has a user-friendly interface and doesn't require a lot of memory, making it accessible even for beginners. It also has a built-in compositor and keyframe control, allowing you to animate objects, improve colors, and track motion.

Another great thing about HitFilm is that it has a free version. This is ideal for users who want to create simple marketing videos without breaking the bank. The software supports a wide variety of video formats and integrates well with other video editing programs like Final Cut Pro and Avid Media Composer.

3. Blender - Great for Beginners

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  • 3D modeling, compositing, and editing
  • Intuitive UI
  • Requires less powerful hardware
  • Free to use
  • Functionality issues
  • No official tutorials

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free

Why Choose It: If you're interested in 3D animation and modeling, Blender is a great choice. Freelancers who are into visual effects will appreciate the wide range of features Blender offers, from simple 2D animation to full-on VFX movies.

Blender is an excellent free After Effects alternative since it includes all of the complex motion graphics features included in the more costly Adobe software, as well as basic editing tools, making Blender a one-stop shop. Plus, it's easier on your computer's resources, so it's perfect for beginners looking to create video content.

Lastly, let's touch on the latest updates, pricing, and problems of usage. Blender is constantly improving and updating its features, thanks to its active community. Best of all, it's free to download.

4. Apple Motion - For Creating Simple Animations

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  • User-friendly interface
  • Real-time playback without rendering
  • Supports rotoscoping, USDZ model support, etc
  • Comes with many visual effects
  • Doesn't offer as many features as After Effects
  • Limited compositing capabilities
  • It can only be used on macOS device

Compatibility: Mac
Pricing: $49.99

Why Choose It: First off, Apple Motion is a powerful program for video editing and visual effects. It's perfect for unleashing your creativity, whether you're a YouTube blogger or an animator.

When comparing Motion vs After Effects, you can see that one major advantage of Apple Motion is its user-friendly interface. Also, you can track and animate objects, create 2D graphics, and even make complex animated backgrounds. Plus, it works seamlessly with Final Cut Pro, which is a huge bonus.

Another standout feature of Apple Motion is its real-time playback without rendering. Unlike After Effects, you don't have to wait for the preview to render before seeing your animation. This can save you a lot of time and frustration, especially if you're working on a complex project.

5. Unity - Real-Time Rendering Capabilities

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  • Basic component layout framework
  • Roto brush tool
  • Regular updates
  • Compatibility with multiple game platforms
  • Free version limited in features
  • Prone to bugs and crashes
  • May require additional plugins for certain tasks

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free version, Pro – from $399/yr

Why Choose It: Being one of the best compositing software, Unity is used by animators, graphic artists, and motion graphics editors to create stunning animated projects. The Roto Brush tool is particularly helpful in changing and modifying the background of a video clip, giving you more creative freedom.

Another advantage of Unity is its real-time rendering capabilities, which enable users to develop high-quality graphics and visual effects in real-time. This is especially beneficial for games that require a high level of graphical fidelity. Unity is also compatible with multiple game platforms and supports the creation of complex physics engines, making it a popular choice among video game developers.

In terms of the latest updates, Unity has made significant enhancements to its shader pipeline, providing new GPU-accelerated particle shaders and multi-threaded rendering for higher performance. It also offers new tools for debugging and profiling, allowing developers to identify and fix any bottlenecks in their game engine.

6. Nuke - Physics Simulation Tools

nuke after effects alternative gif
  • Node-based platform layout
  • Powerful features
  • Compatible with Adobe programs
  • Supports a wide variety of formats
  • Expensive
  • Requires serious training to use effectively

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free trial, Pro – from $3.299/yr

Why Choose It: When comparing After Effects with Nuke, it is clear that Nuke is designed particularly for visual effects artists. It provides a more granular way to fine-tune visuals, making it an excellent choice for professionals in the VFX field.

The node-based platform layout is a standout feature, allowing for more customizable and complex compositing effects. It's a program that requires some serious training to master, but once you do, the possibilities are endless.

Nuke doesn't hold back when it comes to features and functionality. It offers rotoscoping, modeling, and compositing tools that are incredibly powerful. You can also dive into 3D rendering and physics simulation, which is great for creating realistic lighting and shadows. The program even has machine learning tools to complete tasks like matte generation and color correction, saving you time and effort.

It's worth mentioning that Nuke is used by some of the biggest VFX studios in Hollywood, and it has been behind impressive visual effects in movies like Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones. So, you know you're getting a professional-grade tool.

7. Natron – Open Source

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  • Cross-platform software
  • Powerful compositing VFX and motion graphics features
  • Compatible with numerous plugins
  • Flexible user interface
  • May not have all the advanced features and capabilities of After Effects
  • Less widely known
  • Limited support

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free

Why Choose It: Unlike many Natron alternatives, Natron is free and compatible with various open-source and commercial plug-ins. This means you have access to a wide range of tools and effects to enhance your projects. The software runs on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows, making it accessible to users on different platforms.

Natron's node-based engine is another standout feature. It makes the process of compositing and working with multiple layers more efficient. You can easily create complex composites with ease, thanks to its intuitive user interface.

The software offers good animation and keyframe control, as well as tracking and stabilization tools. It also has a 2D planar tracker and flexible rotoscoping features, which are essential for professional VFX work. Additionally, Natron supports a variety of intermediate formats, ensuring a smooth workflow.

8. Powtoon - Vast Selection of Templates

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  • Customization of character poses, actions, animation length, etc
  • Clear interface
  • Multiple languages
  • PowerPoint conversion
  • May lack some advanced features or flexibility
  • Slow loading

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free trial, Pro – from $15/mo

Why Choose It: Powtoon is a fantastic animation software that offers a wide range of templates, allowing businesses to create videos that align with their brand identity. It also provides import and export services, making it convenient to work with different file formats.

Plus, its library is packed with royalty-free music, saving you time in searching for audio files. Additionally, Powtoon offers text-to-speech options, which are handy for adding dialogues or narrating your video.

One of the major advantages of Powtoon is its advanced customization features. You can tweak everything from character poses and actions to animation length and sequencing, giving you full control over your videos. It also supports multiple languages, allowing you to create unique content tailored to your audience.

9. Houdini - Complex Systems and Effects

houdini after effects alternative gif
  • Procedural approach
  • Node-based interface
  • Wide range of capabilities
  • Suitable for various budgets and project sizes
  • Requires a separate license for each machine
  • Steep learning curve

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free version, Pro – from $269/yr

Why Choose It: Houdini is a popular 3D modeling software package used for compositing and visual effects. It takes a procedural approach to digital development, allowing users to achieve creative outcomes using networks of operators (OPs). These operators include SOPs for surfaces, POPs for particles, and CHOPs for channels.

One of the great things about Houdini is its node-based interface, which makes it easy to build complex systems. You can combine output from different nodes and manipulate the results according to your desired style. It's widely used by professional VFX studios for intricate effects in blockbuster movies, offering node-based compositing, 3D tracking, and model building.

Houdini is not just limited to compositing, though. It can be used for various projects, such as character creation, destruction effects, terrain generation, particle effects, character rigging, facial animation, and lighting and shading. It's a highly scalable and modular application, suitable for different budgets.

10. Cinema 4D – For Motion Artists

cinema 4d after effects alternative gif
  • Variety of tools for 3D modeling, texturing, and animating
  • Easy to use
  • Can integrate with several Adobe apps
  • Visual representation of products before production
  • High price tag
  • Requires a high-end PC or Mac
  • Not as full-featured as After Effects

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free trial, Pro – from $112.64/mo

Why Choose It: Cinema 4D offers a fantastic range of tools for 3D modeling, texturing, and animation. It's particularly great for creating titles and motion graphics. With its all-in-one video editing capabilities, it combines motion graphics, visual effects, and 3D compositing, making it a popular choice among motion artists and video editors.

One of the key advantages of Cinema 4D is its clean user interface and powerful 3D modeling software. It provides advanced texture mapping tools, flexible light and camera controls, and a vast library of preset objects. Whether you're a beginner or a professional artist, you'll find it easy to use and navigate.

However, it's important to note that Cinema 4D comes with a high price tag, which can be a significant drawback for some users. If you're looking for a more affordable motion graphics software, you might consider alternatives like Apple Motion or Blender.

11. Wax – Supports Multiple Monitors

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  • Variety of special effects capabilities
  • Great for 3D compositing
  • Can be used as a standalone tool or software plugin
  • Requires fewer resources
  • Outdated design
  • Doesn’t support import of flash files

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free

Why Choose It: This program is designed for video editing and color grading. When developing this application, its creators have integrated various special effects into it. The app comes with 2D and 3D plug-ins. There is also an option of editing 3D objects, light, shadow and texture.

In addition, this alternative to After Effects allows you to apply the effects of explosion, fire, smoke, etc. Besides, you can add 3D text to video as well as 3D models created in the other utilities.

The only thing which may seem to be repulsive is the boring and poor look of this color grading software with an outdated design. In terms of updates, Wax regularly releases new features and improvements to enhance the user experience.

12. Cavalry – AR, VR, and Real-time Editing

cavalry after effects alternative gif
  • Supports a range of workflows
  • Multiple output formats
  • Easy to use with a variety of features
  • Large user community
  • Still in development
  • Some critics claim it is not as robust as After Effects

Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Pricing: Free version, Pro – from $16/mo

Why Choose It: Cavalry is specifically designed for motion graphics design, making it a great choice for 2D animation, character animation, and data visualization. It offers a range of features and supports various output formats.

Now, let's talk about the key features that set Cavalry apart. It has a timeline-based interface, layers, and keyframes, making it familiar to After Effects users. It also offers some impressive 2D animation tools, including the ability to animate a character's limbs with a single curve. Another standout feature is its real-time procedural workflow, which makes it faster and easier to iterate on designs.

The developers have also created preset actions called Behaviours, which automate complex animation tasks. This makes it easier for users to create professional-looking animations without advanced knowledge of After Effects. It's a great feature for beginners or those looking to save time.

How to Choose the Best After Effects Alternative?

Performance. You need software that can handle the demands of rendering graphics-heavy clips without any lag. Editing videos with numerous layers should be a breeze.

Look for customizable timelines and animation curve modifiers to have full control over your projects. Compatibility with various formats is also crucial, from 4K to MP4.

Level of competence. Many of you are seeking for an Adobe After Effects alternative because you desire more user-friendly software. Others may be professionals searching for something more complex than what Adobe provides. I have alternatives for everyone on my list, from beginners to seasoned VFX artists.

Pricing. After all, we're looking for something more affordable than After Effects. That's where these alternatives truly shine. Take HitFilm, for example. It's a professional editing and VFX software that won't break the bank.

It offers an intuitive node-based compositing system and works seamlessly with multiple resolutions and aspect ratios. Plus, it can render your projects quickly, saving you precious time.

Additional features. The best After Effects alternatives not only match its capabilities, but often exceed them. Some offer advanced VFX and animation functions like dynamic text, 3D extrusion, and even advanced sculpting tools.