Building plugins for After Effects isn’t that effortless. It is undeniable that After Effects is a potent tool, as After Effects can be incredibly enormous and complex to use, especially for new users. This is where plugins come into play.
There are different ways to create a plugin for After Effects, and it depends on the type of plugin you want to develop. Plugins allow creators and artists to share the software they create with other After Effects users to ramp up the creativity and save time.
After Effects users of all skill levels use plugins regularly to improve their Workflow and elevate their projects. This article will explore the various tools/technologies you can use to create plugins for AE and their respective advantages and disadvantages.
So let’s get started! After reading this blog, you will be able to know about 10 After Effects plugin tools that can help you in 2023.
Everything you need to know about AE Plugins
A plugin is a component that adds a specific function or feature to existing software. Plugins are almost universally developed by third-party developers and not the developers of the original software itself.
For us, our original software is After Effects. So, when we add plugins, we’re giving After Effects additional components that help us customize it, enhancing our Workflow. Plugins can do many things, such as customize specific tasks, making complex functions simple to execute.
Adobe After Effects is excellent software, but there comes the point when you might think about how you can enhance your Workflow, bump up your creativity and learn new skills. That’s where great After Effects plugins come into play.
Plugins open a whole new dimension for motion graphics animation creators and video editors from particle effects, color correction, character rigging, glitch effects, lens effects, and more.
The excellent part about plugins is that you don’t need to get into programming codes or buy software to make visual effects.
First, let’s go over the for and against of After Effects plugins before diving into each plugin tool.
Pros of After Effects plugins
- It allows a new level of creativity.
- It should enhance and improve your Workflow in After Effects
- It creates effects much faster than using only After Effects default effects
- It will enable you to work with 3d objects and elements directly in After Effects
- It helps to create beautiful background environments in a few clicks
- It doesn’t require knowledge of programming code, script, or expression
Cons of After Effects plugins
- Some plugins take a lot of memory and will considerably slow down After Effects while using them
- Some plugins will take a lot of time to render
- Some plugins can crash After Effects while using them
- The cost of these plugins can get prohibitive
Just be aware some plugins might slow down After effects play because they are memory intensive. I recommend moving your plugin effects into a composition and rendering it Quicktime.
Alright, let’s start tackling each After Effects plugins from the list below. They are not in any specific order. I chose those I enjoy working with and think most motion graphic designers should use or know about.
AE Plugin tools for 2023
Animation Composer is a third-party plugin, which is very easy to use. So, this is the tool I use and recommend to others as it can make animations easy and help save a lot of time.
Animation Composer has its library of presets, transitions, effects, SFX, which you can use on any layer you want. It has a straightforward interface, and it is easy to use.
It has a video preview for every transition, effect and you can apply and remove the preset with just a click.
RainBox – DUIK
The rigging characters or animals only in After Effects can be challenging and time-consuming. With the DUIK plugin, not anymore! This plugin is one of my favorites because it allows you to rig and animate bipeds, quadrupeds, etc., and it has a user-friendly interface.
Once your rig is set up, it is fast and smooth to animate.
Here is the list of its features:
- Stretchy IK
- Bones are layers that replace puppet pins
- Auto Rig bipeds and quadrupeds of any kind (as long as they are vertebrates) and even birds and fish.
- Dynamic Automation
- 3-layer IK
- Bezier IK
Saber is one of the free plugins for Adobe After Effects. After installation, the plugin creates an “artificial light source” that can create and control effects like fire or energy. Things will become interesting once you learn how to use this effect on Layer Mask or Text.
Depending on the path you create. So basically, Saber is a third-party plugin that is free to use.
You can download it easily and install it.
You need to put it on a solid layer, and then you will have to fix its setting, such as deciding which preset suits your idea, adjusting the color, glow intensity, color, glow size, customizing its core, etc., desired to look you want. The possibilities are endless.
Element 3D is a plugin created by a video copilot, the most creative and most used plugin for VFX work. This plugin opens a wide variety of possibilities; we can use 3D models in our videos, this plugin helps us import 3D models, and then we can play with the texture, lighting, and animation.
Element 3D uses an advanced real-time render engine to make the Workflow as smooth as possible. With advanced features such as motion blur & depth of field and the capability to play well with other 3D-enabled After Effects plugins, artists can use Element 3D for a range of work from corporate animation to full-feature VFX.
With the use of Element 3D, you can create unique 3D texts too. It does have a library from which we can use some of the 3D models, textures, environments, lighting, etc. It is a powerful and fantastic tool that makes working with 3D in After Effects easy.
Optical Flares is the industry-standard plugin used to create and design lens flares for your films and videos. Some of its features are 3D Lens Flares, Real Textures, Lights, Presets.
It is the best lens flare plugin as it is fast, easy to use, and you can even customize the presets according to your need. You can even save different presets if you like a flare so much that you want to use it in multiple scenes.
This is the best plugin to create realistic 3D Flares for your videos.
Trapcode Particular is a plugin that generates particles. It was developed by Red Giant, which allows us to create 3D particle effects and simulate real-world physics.
The possibilities with this plugin are limitless. It gives you complete control over the particle properties, including how they will react.
It all depends on your needs. It is a very effective plugin and creates astonishing effects.
So if you are someone who needs to create Adobe Illustrator files and then take them to After Effects for animation, this is the best script for you.
With the help of Overlord, you can pass shapes vectors back and forth as needed. It is incredible and saves time too.
Overlord builds the much-desired excellent portal between After Effects and Illustrator.
Fx Console is a script that you can use for both Mac and Windows. It is free to download and easy to use. This plugin helps you add effects faster in a simple way.
You can easily access this plugin by selecting the layer and pressing the keyboard shortcut. You will see that a small search dialog box will appear. Here you can put the effect you want and press enter.
And voila! Effects are applied to your layer.
Roto Brush 2.0
Roto Brush 2.0 is the updated version of Roto Brush. It is a tool that helps you extract a particular subject or object from a video.
You can use it to add or replace visual effects behind the moving object, or you can use it to add elements to the foreground or remove something from the background. It is an advanced tool that helps you do rotoscopes much easier than masks.
Mocha Pro is an advanced tool used for rotoscoping. It is a free tool that is easy to use.
Some of you might not know, but with the help of this plugin, it is effortless to track a selected area frame by frame. All you have to do is to make the selection and then make minimal adjustments if needed.
Mocha Pro makes tracking so easier and simple that anyone can use this and become a pro in rotoscoping. It also offers different tools like Power mesh, Adjust Track 2.0, Python Scripting.
Should I use plug-ins in my workflow?
Now that you have an idea and a few starting points to start your journey with After Effects plugin tools, you should add them to your Workflow.
Again, while After Effects is excellent software, plugins allow you to unlock that power to a level beyond what you thought capable.
It is not required to use plugins in your Workflow, but if you want to be a Motion Designer, you should be taking advantage of everything plugins have to offer.
I hope you’ve found this list of my favorite After Effects plugins useful. What are your favorite AE plugins?
We hope this list of After Effects plugins have been helpful to you. We’ve given you a range of different plugins here. As always, it depends on what you’re looking to create, what your goals are, as well as the kind of project you’re working on.
So whether you’re a filmmaker, videographer, or any other creative, these AE plugin tools will help you out. To know more, visit https://www.webdew.com/