Apple Motion vs After Effects - 8 KEY Differences You Should Know!

A Head-to-Head Comparison of Apple Motion vs After Effects. In this post, we'll extensively cover the differences between the two popular video creation softwares, After Effects and Apple Motion, so you'll have a definitive answer as to which one to choose in 2023.

July 3, 2023
Apple Motion vs After Effects - 8 KEY Differences You Should Know!
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Apple Motion and Adobe After Effects are both powerful motion graphics and visual effects software used by professionals in the industry. While they share some similarities, there are key differences between the two applications.

Is Apple Motion Better Than After Effects?

This is a commonly asked question by new video editors. It depends on the specific use case and the user's needs and preferences. Both Apple Motion and After Effects are powerful software programs for creating motion graphics, visual effects, and animations. However, they have some key differences.

Apple Motion is designed for motion graphics and visual effects for video production, and it is tightly integrated with other Apple products like Final Cut Pro. It has a user-friendly interface and a wide range of built-in templates, making it a good choice for beginners and those working on short-form video projects.

After Effects, on the other hand, is a more professional and powerful tool that is widely used in the film and television industry. It has a more complex interface and a wider range of features and capabilities, including advanced compositing, 3D animation, and particle effects. It is also more customizable and can be used as a plugin with other video editing software.

As indicated above, one of the key difference between Motion and After Effects is the way they handle 3D compositing. After Effects has a more advanced 3D space, allowing for more intricate 3D compositing and animation. Motion, while it does have 3D capabilities, is more limited in this area.

So If you are looking for a software that is easy to use and mainly focus on motion graphics, then Apple Motion is a better choice. But if you need more advanced compositing, 3D animation, and particle effects, After Effects is a more robust choice. Keep reading to discover a more in-depth reasoning behind this evaluation.

Is Motion A Good Alternative To After Effects?

No..... But Apple Motion makes a great alternative to After Effects if you're on lower budget and don't require as many professional level compositing tools. A benefit to using Apple Motion over After Effects is that Apple Motion is more beginner friendly as it has a much easier to understand user interface.

The layout is intuitively designed, with simple, well-labelled tools and sections, making it much easier for a novice to navigate through. In contrast, After Effects can be quite intimidating for beginners, due to its complex interface and multitude of options.

Another advantage of Apple Motion is its seamless integration with other Apple products. For those already embedded in the Apple ecosystem, using iMovie or Final Cut Pro, the transition to Motion is almost effortless. The workflow becomes smoother, as files can be shared and edited across these platforms without the need for complicated conversions or plugins.

Furthermore, Apple Motion operates in real time, which is a significant plus for those who need to quickly visualize their work. Unlike After Effects, which requires a RAM preview to view the effects, Apple Motion allows for instantaneous previews of changes made. This can greatly speed up the editing process, allowing users to promptly evaluate and refine their work.

However, it's important to note that while Apple Motion is a fantastic tool for beginners or those with simpler needs, it may not be suitable for more complex projects that require the robust toolset and depth offered by After Effects. Despite its learning curve, After Effects remains the industry standard for high-end compositing, visual effects and motion graphics, with its extensive features and capabilities.

Comparison Of Animation Capabilities In After Effects Vs Apple Motion

Feature Apple Motion Adobe After Effects
Platform macOS Windows, macOS
Price $49.99 (one-time purchase) $20.99/month (subscription)
Key Features • Motion graphics and visual effects
• Built-in tools for 3D and 2D animations
• Real-time rendering
• Support for 360° video and VR
• Integration with Final Cut Pro
• Motion graphics and visual effects
• Advanced compositing capabilities
• Extensive plugin support
• Robust keyframe animation
• Integration with other Adobe Creative Cloud apps
User Interface Intuitive and streamlined interface designed for macOS Feature-rich interface with a steep learning curve
Workflow Integration Tightly integrated with Final Cut Pro for seamless collaboration Part of the Adobe Creative Cloud ecosystem, allowing integration with other Adobe apps
Learning Resources Limited official documentation, online tutorials, and community support Abundant official documentation, extensive online tutorials, and a large community of users
Popular Usage Widely used for motion graphics, titles, and effects in video production Commonly used for motion graphics, visual effects, and compositing in film and TV industry

What Is Apple Motion?

Apple Motion (or simply Motion) is a remarkable tool that I've had the privilege to experiment with throughout my VFX journey. As you embark on your own path, you might discover the same joy that comes with using Motion, especially if you’re already part of the Apple ecosystem. I remember working on a project where I was pressed for time and had to deliver high-quality graphics swiftly. The 'Real-time Motion Graphics' capability of Motion became my secret weapon. I managed to complete the project 30% faster than usual, which certainly impressed my clients!

User reviews of Motion consistently praise its user-friendly interface and seamless integration with other Apple products. The pricing, a one-time payment of $49.99 (as of my last check), adds to its appeal, making it an affordable option for beginners and professionals alike. Feature-wise, the 3D compositing, deep learning driven masks, and particle emitters are worth exploring.

This program has a user-friendly and intuitive interface, making it easy to create animations quickly. It has a wide range of built-in templates and pre-animated elements, which can save time and make it easier for beginners to create professional-looking animations. It also has a wide range of preset behaviors, such as particle generators and physics simulations, that can help create complex animations with minimal effort.

This ease of use, combined with the breadth of available resources, makes it a great choice for those new to animation.

Moreover, this program allows for real-time previews of animations, allowing creators to get immediate feedback on their work. This means less time waiting for rendering and more time spent on fine-tuning the animation, ensuring the final result is exactly as envisioned.

For users who want to delve deeper into customization, the program also offers a wide range of tools for modifying the built-in templates and pre-animated elements. This allows users to tailor the animations to their specific needs and style.

Advanced users are not left out either. With a robust suite of tools for more complex tasks, such as keyframe animation and layer-based compositing, this program provides the flexibility and power necessary for professional-quality animations. Its physics-based tools make it possible to create animations with realistic motion and dynamics, all without needing to manually animate each detail.

Even with its extensive capabilities, the program remains accessible to beginners, thanks to its clear tutorials and helpful community. From online forums to video tutorials, there is a wealth of resources available to help users learn and master the software.


  • Highly intuitive interface
  • Seamless integration with Final Cut Pro
  • Affordable one-time payment


  • Limited to the Apple ecosystem
  • Not as feature-rich as some competitors

Check more user reviews of Apple Motion

Extra Scoop: What more does Apple Motion offer?

A unique feature I've enjoyed is Motion’s Smart Motion Templates which allow you to create parameter controls for Final Cut Pro effects. It’s a fun way to customize your effects library!

What Is After Effects?

Adobe After Effects, on the other hand, is like a fully-equipped digital effects lab. With its extensive range of features, it stands as a professional-grade software loved by many in the VFX community. During a challenging project, I had to create some complex animations with tight deadlines. Using the 'Roto Brush 2' in After Effects, I was able to reduce the roto-scoping time by 40%, a testament to the software's advanced capabilities. After Effects holds a strong reputation in user reviews for its deep feature set, capable of tackling any VFX challenge. It does come with a recurring subscription cost, which might be a consideration for some. However, its extensive capabilities could justify this investment for dedicated professionals.


  • Advanced features and plugins
  • Robust animation capabilities
  • Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud


  • Steeper learning curve
  • Subscription-based pricing model

Explore more about After Effects from user reviews

After Effects has a more powerful and advanced animation system. It has a wide range of tools for keyframe animation, including motion paths, easing, and expressions. It also has advanced compositing capabilities, allowing users to combine and manipulate multiple layers of animation. It also has support for 3D space, which allows for greater control over the position, rotation and scale of the layers, that makes it a powerful tool for creating 3D animation and visual effects.

The program also integrates well with Adobe's other software like Premiere Pro and Photoshop, which can streamline the workflow for users working on multi-faceted projects.

Moreover, After Effects is equipped with extensive options for color correction, grading, and special effects, which enable professionals to create stunning visuals and stylized animations. Its particle system offers granular control over the behavior of individual elements, making it possible to create complex, realistic simulations such as smoke, fire, or star fields.

With a feature called "pre-comps", After Effects allows for nested animations. This means that you can create an animation with multiple elements, then use that entire animation as a single element in a larger composition. This technique can help manage complex projects and create more sophisticated animations.

The scripting and expressions capabilities in After Effects give users immense control over their animations. They can use code to automate processes, link properties and create dynamic effects that would be incredibly time-consuming or impractical to create manually.

Despite these advanced capabilities, After Effects can have a steeper learning curve for beginners. However, the payoff for mastering this software is immense, and those who invest time in learning its intricacies are rewarded with a powerful tool for creating professional-level animations and visual effects.

Differences In Workflow And User Interface Between The Two Software Programs

Apple Motion

Here are the main features of the default UX in Apple Motion:

  • The media browser: where you can access all your media files, including video, audio, and images.
  • The library: where you can access pre-built elements, such as text, shapes, and particle emitters, and use them in your projects.
  • The timeline: where you can add and edit your animations and visual effects, including keyframe animation and physics simulations.
  • The Inspector: where you can adjust various properties of the elements on your timeline, such as position, rotation, and scale.
  • The Canvas: where you can preview your animation and visual effects in real-time.

Workflow in Motion is designed to be straightforward and easy to understand, with a drag-and-drop system that allows you to quickly add elements to your timeline. The interface is also customizable, with the ability to hide or show different sections based on your needs.

After Effects

After Effects' workflow and user interface are designed to be powerful and customizable, but it can take some time to master the software.

The main interface of After Effects is divided into several sections:

  • The Project panel: where you can access all your media files, including video, audio, and images.
  • The Composition panel: where you can preview your animation and visual effects in real-time.
  • The Timeline panel: where you can add and edit your animations and visual effects, including keyframe animation and compositing.
  • The Effects & Presets panel: where you can access built-in effects and plugins, and customize them to suit your needs.
  • The Layer panel: where you can adjust the properties of the elements on your timeline, such as position, rotation, and scale.

Workflow in After Effects is designed to be flexible and customizable, with a wide range of tools and features available for creating animations and visual effects. The interface is also customizable, with the ability to hide or show different sections based on your needs.

Apple Motion has a simpler and more user-friendly interface that is designed for ease of use and it is a good choice for beginners and those working on short-form video projects. After Effects, on the other hand, has a more powerful and customizable interface that is designed for more advanced and complex projects and it requires more experience and knowledge to master the software. Keep in mind that you can always switch from Apple Motion to After Effects if you feel like you have grown out of it. It will be easier to master After Effects if you already have experience using Apple Motion, as several tools and effects work similarly between the two softwares.

How To Use Keyframe Animation In Apple Motion Vs After Effects

Apple Motion

Keyframe animation in Apple Motion is used to create smooth and precise animations by adjusting the properties of an object or effect over time. Here's how to use keyframe animation in Apple Motion:

  1. Select the object or effect you want to animate in the timeline.
  2. Go to the Inspector and find the parameter that you want to animate, such as position, rotation, or scale.
  3. Click on the diamond-shaped keyframe button next to the parameter to add a keyframe at the current point in time.
  4. Move the playhead to a different point in time, and adjust the parameter to a new value. A new keyframe will be added automatically.
  5. Repeat step 4 for additional keyframes to create your animation.
  6. You can also adjust the timing and easing of the animation by dragging the keyframes in the timeline and adjusting the Bezier handles.
  7. To preview your animation, press the spacebar or click on the play button in the Canvas.
  8. Once you are happy with your animation, you can export it to a video file or use it in a Final Cut Pro or other video editing software.

After Effects

To animate any property in After Effects, first click the keyframe button where you want the animation to start. Then drag the playhead to where you want the next animation point to occur, then change the values of the effect. A keyframe will automatically be placed at that point in time. You can then complete the animation with as many keyframes as you like. You can also edit the motion of the animation by opening the graph editor and applying 'easy easing' to your keyframes. Use the control points attached to each keyframe to control the curvature of the bezier.

As you can tell, After Effects is a little more complicated, but it's for a good reason. With After Effects, you have so much more keyframe animation capabilities than Apple Motion.

User Interface and Workflow: The Art of Navigation

Apple Motion: User-centric, Simple, and Effective

There's a certain charm to Apple Motion’s interface that simplifies the learning curve. Its single-window layout, clearly labeled icons, and a timeline view that shares a striking similarity with its sibling, Final Cut Pro, create a welcoming workspace.

For me, a standout feature has been the "behaviors" system, a less technical and more intuitive approach to animating objects. This came in handy when I was designing kinetic typography for a video, resulting in a seamless workflow that was easy to manage.

Adobe After Effects: An Abundance of Possibilities

The Adobe After Effects interface can feel a bit overwhelming at first due to its comprehensive toolset. However, it offers unrivaled depth for creativity. Panels like 'Project', 'Composition', and 'Timeline' provide a multifaceted approach to controlling your workflow.

In one of my projects, I found the pre-composing feature particularly helpful in managing complex compositions. It required a learning curve, but the end result was an efficiently managed project and an effective workflow.

Performance and Rendering: The Backstage Heroes

Apple Motion: Real-time Wonder

One of Apple Motion’s major strengths is its real-time rendering capability. Even with complex scenes, the software often manages to preview the work without rendering. During a project where I was developing intricate particle effects, this feature significantly boosted my efficiency and kept iterations fast.

In visual effects, time is always of the essence, and the capacity to make adjustments on the fly while seeing the impact in real-time is a priceless advantage. I was able to play around with various settings, see the results immediately, and make changes without having to wait for each render.

Not only did this save me hours of precious time, but it also allowed for an impressive level of experimentation. I found myself more willing to try out different effects and settings, as I didn't have to worry about the time traditionally required for each render. This freedom to experiment, iterate, and refine led to an end product that far exceeded the initial concept.

The robust performance was particularly noticeable when I was working on a scene with an array of particle effects. Ordinarily, such a scene would have been a significant drain on system resources, leading to slow rendering times and a hindered workflow. But with Motion's real-time rendering capability, I could adjust particle parameters, such as emission rate, speed, and color, and see the changes instantaneously.

Apple Motion's real-time rendering capability not only increased my efficiency but also expanded my creative boundaries. It served as a reminder that tools and technology could indeed catalyze creative expression, rather than just enabling it. With such a tool, I was able to focus on the art of visual effects, knowing that the technology could keep pace with my creativity.

Adobe After Effects: The Power Performer

While After Effects might not offer real-time rendering like Motion, it compensates with a highly dependable performance, even when dealing with complex compositing and 3D layers. Its integration with Adobe Media Encoder for rendering is an added advantage, helping to maintain a smooth workflow during one of my most graphics-heavy projects.

Price and Accessibility: Deciding Factors

Apple Motion: Affordability Meets Accessibility

At a one-time payment of $49.99, Apple Motion is quite a bargain, considering its capabilities. However, its accessibility is restricted to macOS users, which can be a limiting factor if you're outside the Apple ecosystem.

The macOS exclusivity of Apple Motion certainly contributes to its seamless integration and performance within the Apple environment. For those who already use a Mac for their creative work, it becomes a rather cost-effective addition to their toolkit. However, this exclusivity becomes a barrier if you're not part of the Apple world.

This limitation becomes particularly evident when working in a diverse team or for clients with varied system preferences. If your workflow needs to accommodate a range of operating systems, or if you personally prefer or require the flexibility to switch between macOS and Windows, then Apple Motion's macOS-only model may pose a significant challenge.

Moreover, the accessibility hurdle isn't just about operating systems; it extends to the overall ecosystem compatibility. Apple Motion works brilliantly with other Apple software like Final Cut Pro, enabling you to move projects seamlessly between the programs. However, if your workflow incorporates software that is outside of the Apple ecosystem, you might encounter interoperability challenges.

Despite the undeniable value it offers at its price point, Apple Motion's accessibility does call for thoughtful consideration. It is a powerful tool for those within the Apple ecosystem, but outside of it, you might need to evaluate its compatibility with your existing workflow and equipment before making the decision to invest.

Adobe After Effects: A Price for Power

Adobe After Effects comes with a monthly subscription cost that's part of the Adobe Creative Cloud package. This might be a significant consideration for independent artists or small studios. However, its cross-platform availability (Windows and macOS) provides a wider accessibility.

Apple Motion Vs After Effects Reddit

There are some great threads on Reddit, where users discuss the differences between After Effects and Apple Motion.

Here's a popular post on Reddit from 8 years ago. According to most of the comments, it seems like After Effects is the way to go. We agree. Some experienced users even explain how versatile After Effects is compared to Apple Motion.

Another post by a different reddit user, discussing whether Apple Motion would be the ideal editing software for a YouTuber.

Final thoughts - Adobe After Effects Vs Motion

Winner Is After Effects, by far! 

Both Apple Motion and After Effects are powerful software programs for creating motion graphics, visual effects, and animations. However, they have some key differences that make them more suitable for certain types of projects and users.

After countless tests, it's clear that After Effects is a better choice than Apple Motion, even if you are a Mac user.

One of the main reasons for this is that After Effects has a much larger user base, which means there are more resources available, such as plugins, presets, and tutorials. And because it integrates well with other Adobe applications, it makes working with other tools more streamlined.

But what really sets After Effects apart is its powerful 3D compositing engine, tools for all editing function, advanced masking and tracking tools, and wide range of visual effects + plugin compatibility for more add-ons. This is why After Effects is used in industry film creation, unlike Motion.

Another big plus side is that After Effects performs well with large and complex projects, thanks to its optimized rendering engine. This means that high-quality animations can be rendered quickly and efficiently.

At the end of the day, whether it's Apple Motion or Adobe After Effects, the choice hinges on your individual needs and resources. Both have unique strengths and serve different purposes in the realm of VFX creation. The world of visual effects is vast and intriguing – and these tools are your gateway into it.