Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned After Effects veteran, a good plugin can help get the job done.
Plugin creators from around the world are consistently putting out new tools to make both your life and your workflow easier. Today, we're going to take a look at what the current marketplace has to offer.
While the term plugin is used broadly here and can include both extensions and scripts, the key takeaway is that not all of these tools are installed via the same method. Be sure to follow each tool’s corresponding instructions.
Wander from Mt. Mograph
Mt. Mograph is known for their extremely popular Motion plugin, which made my roundup list last year. Wander works in both Adobe AE and Premiere Pro, and allows users to surf endless libraries of gifs, emojis, SVGs, and icon packs with a sleek and simple UI. With 62+ million media files, use Wander to instantly download, sort, and add media to your project.
Timelord from Battle Axe
Timelord is the quickest way to bring Photoshop layers and/or timelines directly into AE. While Overlord is Battle Axe’s vector workflow tool for AE, Timelord is the Photoshop equivalent. This powerful tool was designed for frame-by-frame animation projects.
Use it to streamline your workflow when working between Adobe Photoshop/Animate and After Effects. Even if you’re new to frame-by-frame animation, the default layout will get you up and running smoothly.
AutoFill from Plugin Everything
This revolutionary plugin automatically creates filling animation for shapes and images. It fluidly fills the bounds of your layer, saving what would be hours of masking & keyframing. Use for animated reveals, maps, texture changes, dissolves, transitions, looping animations, handwritten text, and more.
Easy Bounce from MamoWorld
Easy Bounce is an extension for Adobe After Effects that makes key-framing bouncing animations incredibly easy. It’s a simple two-step process of roughly keyframing the motion path and then clicking on the Easy Bounce button. This will both fine-tune the motion path and adjust the timing (easing) of the path to be physically correct.
MonkeyWipes from Ebberts & Zucker
If you want transitions on steroids, then check out MonkeyWipes. This is a procedural system for Adobe After Effects that effortlessly generates an endless array of unique text and graphic transitions for use in motion graphics.
With just a few clicks, you can achieve anything from a series of simple transitions to a complex montage of incredible variety. Select from random or specific settings in almost every dropdown. Is especially useful for text animations.
Randomatic 2 from Romain Cousin
As the name entails, this is all about creating randomness in After Effects. With this tool, you can randomize all 2D, 3D, and even color properties of After Effects. Choose between static random, animated random, or wiggle, and control your randomized properties precisely with custom made controllers. Works on layers as well! So random…
Subtitle Pro from LetsMotion
Subtitle Pro is a professional plugin that lets you create subtitles for your videos directly in both After Effects and Premiere Pro. Import SRT and any other subtitle format, or simply write out the desired text manually.
Translating and syncing is a simple one-click action, and importing Youtube SRT files is as easy as copying and pasting the link. Use templates and quickly control subtitles via markers in Adobe After Effects.
Shadow Studio 2 from Plugin Everything
With Shadow Studio, you can forget about the default Drop Shadow. Increase your shadow options and quickly create and customize long, diffuse, inner, and radial shadows via simple parameters. Take fine control over falloff via opacity, distance, and softness controls. Use quality controls to further tweak render times.
If you’re super lazy, just slap on one of the five stylistic presets.
Expression Universalizer 4 from Lloyd Alvarez
If you create and sell After Effects project templates or MOGRTs for Premiere Pro users, this plugin is a necessary tool. Expression Universalizer automatically converts the expressions in your AE projects so that they are compatible with After Effects running in any language. Convert comps or entire projects with the simple click of a button.
GEOlayers 3 from Markus Bergelt
One of my personal favorites, GEOlayers gives users the power to design and animate maps directly inside of After Effects. It renders custom maps from different online sources, providing direct access to extensive databases of geospatial features of the world. You can easily highlight country borders, streets, lakes, rivers, places, regions, animate driving routes, and even extruding buildings.
Lockdown from Chris Vranos
This revolutionary plug-in allows users to track warping surfaces inside After Effects, including faces.
The new 1.6 version update has significantly simplified the workflow, with quad mesh smoothing and a track refinement system. Lockdown is especially useful for beauty retouching and other previously difficult cleanup jobs.
FreqReact from Davey Studio
With FreqReact, users can drive animations via specific audio frequencies. Use the integrated FreqView to switch between frequency presets and heights to find the range you’re looking for. Create new ideas by slapping a controller on any property that can be animated. Turn on the Additive Mod to make your reacting effects increase over time. Create infinite rotations, shapes growing beyond the bounds of the screen, or starships flying through space.
With a clean and intuitive interface, FreqReact plays well with other plugins.
Mocha Pro 2021 from Boris FX
Renowned software for planar tracking, rotoscoping, and object removal, Mocha Pro 2021 is a new and improved release. Mocha’s planar tracking engine now has the ability to handle warped surfaces via the new PowerMesh sub-surface tracking. A new Python script editor is now included in 2021, and if you know what that is, good for you.
Mocha Pro has recently been used on global hits including Stranger Things, Avengers: Endgame, and The Mandalorian. This is the way.
SmartREKT 3.2 from UkraMedia
Sergei from UkraMedia is one of my favorite AE creators/instructors. His tutorials are always extremely informative, and the tools released by UkraMedia are always incredibly useful. SmartREKT is a perfect example.
This script takes the Rectangle Tool and sends it into beast mode. If you work with a lot of text, this is a necessary tool. New Features in SmartREKT 3.2 include a compact UI layout with default options, advanced Fill & Stroke UI options, advanced shape size settings for animated text, and manual height options for auto-resize feature.
Easy Rulers 2 from Real Creations
Easy Rulers 2 was designed to create any type of graphical measuring ruler, fast and easy. A great tool for anyone looking to create gauges, scopes, speedometers, graphical equalizers, HUDs, UI elements, historical timelines, instrumentation layouts, infographics, audio interfaces, etc.
So what do you think? What are some of your favorite plugins for Adobe After Effects?
For more tools, check out our list from last year.