11.02.22 4 mins read
Our Top 5 After Effects Plugins
After Effects plugins may be the holy grail for any motion designer serious about improving productivity. Whilst After Effects may be the industry standard for motion design, it can often be a total time sink. When you’re wrestling with keyframes everyday, finding a smooth, time efficient workflow can make all the difference to hitting those all important deadlines.
After Effects plugins can range from £30 to £300 – but a good few are absolutely free. Some we find vital to our workflow here at Yatta HQ and some are simply nice to have. So here are our top 5 recommendations for taking your After Effects workflow up a notch.
Caveat – if you’re a student or just starting out, you can build a great portfolio without these expenses. But if you’re making money producing beautiful motion work already – consider refining your process with these time saving tools.
Hands down, the most handy tool in our kit. Coming in at £35 is Overlord.
Overlord allows you to import artwork from Adobe Illustrator directly into your After Effects composition with a single click. Kaboom.
Gone are the days of spending hours splitting an Illustrator document into faffy layers. With Overlord you simply select a shape in your Ai doc and hit go. It arrives in After Effects as an editable vector, ready to be animated. It’s quick, easy and frankly we couldn’t live without it.
Check it here.
Motion 3 is a monster little plugin. It has a massive number of features – most of which, in all honesty, we don’t use. However, it’s the simplest features we find ourselves jumping to each and every day.
There’s an amazing, user-friendly Curve Graph feature that allows you to customise your easing without diving into After Effects Graph. Hell, you can even create your own custom easings and save them to the User Library. Super handy for retaining motion consistency for a brand or project.
Motion 3 also allows a quick and easy way to reset a shape’s center point, or set it to a corner or side of your choice. It’s one of those features you don’t realise you need until you try going without and lose the will to live.
The plugin comes in at £50 which isn’t super cheap, but for the custom curves alone – we find this to be well worth the $.
See more here.
Camera controls in After Effects are notoriously clunky. Handy Cam takes the pain away with full orbit controls, lock on target, intuitive lens controls, wiggle controls to simulate handheld looks, and shed loads more.
To be fair it’s not a tool we use everyday, but coming in at £30 it’s a cheap way to remove camera pain from any project. Using HandyCam to orbit around a 3D space with a shallow depth of field will always take your scene up a notch.
Time for a freebie. Duik is a complete character rigging tool for After Effects that – amazingly – doesn’t cost a single penny. From full character IK rigs, simple face controllers, to rolling wheels and all, DUIK is jam-packed with tools for almost any 2D rigging job.
There are other, perhaps more streamlined tools out there for rigging (shout outs to Rubber Hose or Limber) but if you are just starting out then Duik is the one.
Check it here.
Let’s end on a big boy. Newton 3 is a physics simulator that comes with the hefty price tag of £180.
Newton 3 brings realistic physics to After Effects, making your 2D shapes and layers act like solid objects that interact with each other. You can control density, friction, bounciness, gravity and more. Dream.
It can be trial and error creating the effect you’re aiming for, but compared to the time it would take to animate by hand, man – does it save you some time! If you’re looking to splash out on creating realistic physics in After Effects, we highly recommend checking this guy out.
Check it here.