[2024] Is After Effects Worth It? - VFX Artist's Perspective

For hobbyists and freelancers, After Effects is the optimal tool for intricate visual effects and detailed compositing, while professionals in studios will find it indispensable for in-depth VFX tasks. Dedicate time to learn its functionalities, and it will become a cornerstone in your video editing and VFX projects.

December 18, 2023
[2024] Is After Effects Worth It? - VFX Artist's Perspective
"Video editors relying on templates lack genuine skill and creativity."

What do you think? Submit your opinion to see what others have to say!

"It's Like Video Editing On Steroids!"
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Do I Really Need After Effects?

I think After Effects is very much worth it, especially if you're a VFX artist like me.

Although it's not the software I started off using, it is the software I used to scale the fastest. Not only that, but it's also the industry standard for VFX compositing and motion design.

If you were to ask me to put my opinion on how much After Effects is worth it on a scale, i'd rate it 9/10.

To put that into comparison, I would rate FCPX 7/10 on that same scale if I were in this same position as a VFX Artist.

I say this because After Effects offers more tools and capabilities that allow for intricate compositing, motion graphics, and visual effects. When you have your assets prepped and ready, After Effects becomes the platform where you can seamlessly integrate them, ensuring that the final output aligns with your envisioned concept. With the plethora of plugins and integrations available, the software provides a flexible environment where you can adjust elements like colors, lighting, and even timing to your precise requirements.

Not only that, but After Effects also has several integrations, plugins and third party add-ons that help you edit faster and to a higher degree of quality.

On the other hand, Final Cut Pro, when rated on the same scale, stands at a 7. While it's a robust video editing software, its primary focus is on editing rather than visual effects and compositing. It's like having a toolkit that's optimized for a specific task; while it can handle other tasks, it might not be as efficient or as detailed in those areas.

Should I Get After Effects?

Depending on your situation and needs, whether or not I would recommend After Effects to you changes.

Starting as a Hobby

If you're venturing into the world of video editing and visual effects as a hobby, After Effects might seem a bit overwhelming initially. However, the investment in time and effort can be rewarding as you explore its capabilities. Premiere Pro, being more user-friendly, might be a better starting point for basic editing.

Freelancer

For freelancers, the nature of your assignments will dictate your software choice. If your work revolves around intricate visual effects, sophisticated motion graphics, or comprehensive compositing, then After Effects should be your primary tool.

Professional in a Studio

In a professional studio environment, expertise in After Effects is invaluable. It will serve as your primary resource for in-depth VFX tasks.

Digital Content Creators

For individuals producing content for platforms like YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok, After Effects is a powerful tool. Whether it's creating dynamic intros, outros, or interactive animations to engage viewers, After Effects provides the flexibility and depth to make content stand out and appear more professional.

Educators and Trainers

For those involved in e-learning or creating instructional videos, After Effects can be instrumental. It allows for the creation of animated diagrams, interactive timelines, and illustrative graphics that can make complex topics more understandable and engaging for learners.

Marketing and Advertising Professionals

In the realm of advertising, capturing the audience's attention is paramount. After Effects is ideal for creating compelling product animations, dynamic ad sequences, and interactive promotional materials that can resonate with viewers and leave a lasting impression.

Live Event Coordinators

For those orchestrating live events, concerts, or conferences, After Effects can be used to design captivating visuals. This includes animated backdrops, interactive displays, or even augmented reality integrations that can enhance the overall experience for attendees.

Decide Whether Or Not After Effects Is For You Based On Past Experience + Financial Capability

Another factor that can help you decide whether or not After Effects is worth it is whether you're a user of an existing video editor such as Premiere Pro or just starting out in video production.

If you're already familiar with Premiere Pro, the transition to After Effects becomes smoother. Both software are part of the Adobe Creative Cloud suite, and they integrate seamlessly. This means that dynamic linking between the two is straightforward, allowing for efficient workflows. For instance, if you're working on a film and need to add visual effects to a particular scene, you can easily send your clip from Premiere Pro to After Effects, make the necessary adjustments, and then send it back to Premiere Pro without any loss in quality or the need for time-consuming exports.

For those just beginning their journey in video production, the learning curve for After Effects might be steeper. However, the investment is often justified by the versatility it offers. Even basic knowledge of After Effects can elevate the production value of your projects, allowing for more sophisticated visual storytelling.

In terms of filmmaking situations:

  1. Short Films: For filmmakers working on short films with a limited budget, After Effects can be a game-changer. It allows for the creation of visual effects that would otherwise be costly if done through traditional methods. Whether it's creating a futuristic cityscape, a magical aura, or even simple tasks like removing unwanted objects from a scene, After Effects provides the tools to achieve it.
  2. Documentaries: In documentaries, where the narrative is crucial, After Effects can be used to create compelling infographics, animate photographs, or add subtle effects that emphasize specific points or emotions.
  3. Music Videos: The realm of music videos often demands creativity and unique visual presentations. After Effects can be used to create surreal environments, sync visuals with beats, or even integrate 3D elements into live-action footage.

Regarding financials:

The cost of After Effects, when viewed as a standalone product, might seem high to some, especially hobbyists or those just starting out. However, when you factor in the potential return on investment, the picture changes. For freelancers, the ability to offer advanced VFX services can lead to higher-paying projects. For studios or production houses, having in-house After Effects expertise can reduce the need to outsource, leading to cost savings in the long run.

Moreover, the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription model offers flexibility. Instead of purchasing each software individually, you can access a suite of tools, including both Premiere Pro and After Effects, for a monthly fee. This can be more cost-effective for those looking to use multiple Adobe products.