Here’s a list of vital motion graphics software every designer should be familiar with. Knowing your way around these tools can push your next project to the next level.
If you want to make a name for yourself in the fast-growing business of motion graphics, you need to be well acquainted with this list of motion graphics software. This list can help you confirm that you’re using the right software for your on-going projects and introduce you to some tools you might not currently be using. Remember… you’ve got to diversify!
Any list of vital motion graphics software has to start with After Effects, a layer-based motion graphics software that works like a hybrid of video editing software and Photoshop. No matter if you’re a Mac or PC user, you’ll want to utilize the power of AE for your next project. Adobe has done a great job of linking its software together, thus allowing you to seamlessly use AE within the Creative Cloud ecosystem.
Of course, After Effects doesn’t just work well within its own ecosystem. It also works exceptionally well with other NLEs like Avid Media Composer and Final Cut Pro X. With a massive plugin library available to any user, as well as a lite version of Cinema 4D, After Effects is the most important software for any motion graphic artist.
- Best For: 2D Animation, Graphics for Video Projects, Animation, Logo Reveals
- Price: $49.99 a Month for CC
Nuke (from The Foundry) is an extremely powerful node-based digital compositing application. It’s used the world over in post-production for major motion pictures and television. It’s also used by some of the top-end professional motion graphics companies.
This robust software allows users to employ a node system when setting up compositions, whereas After Effects uses a layered system. While After Effects is indeed a powerful motion graphics software, its power and capability isn’t as high as Nuke — and this is reflected in the price tag. This is why Nuke is used primarily by studio houses or high-end MoGraph artists. FYI: it’s worth noting that some of the plugins created by The Foundry for Nuke are available for After Effects.
- Best For: High-End Compositing, 3D Compositing,
- Price: $3,879
Blackmagic Design’s Fusion (once known as eyeon Fusion) is a great alternative to After Effects and Nuke. This motion graphics software works incredibly well with DaVinci Resolve, which has allowed Blackmagic to build a great lineup of turn-key software for post-production.
Much like Nuke, Fusion is a node-based system instead of the layer system like After Effects. Because of this, Fusion is used by industry professionals around the world. Its usage can be seen in film such as Avatar, 300, Game of Thrones, and Gravity.
- Best For: 3D Compositing, Particle Generation
- Price: Free
Motion is essentially Apple’s version of After Effects for the Final Cut Pro X user base. While Motion has been a pretty solid option for sometime, it’s never really caught on outside of the Final Cut Pro X community.
Motion is still a pretty powerful tool and connects great with Final Cut Pro X. It’s also expanded to include a host of plugins, as well as 3D text. While it won’t give you the type of quality motion graphics that After Effects, Nuke, or Fusion will, it’s still a great option for any Final Cut Pro X user.
- Best For: Quick Motion Projects, FCPX Template Creation, Graphics for Videos
- Price: $49.99
It you want to integrate 3D elements into your project, you would be hard pressed to find a better 3D software than Maxon’s Cinema 4D. The absolute greatest thing about Cinema 4D is its usability and learning curve.
Out of all the 3D rendering softwares out there, it might be the easiest to learn. The user interface is simple; for anyone with a graphics background in Photoshop and After Effects, Cinema 4D should be a fairly easy transition. With its inclusion into After Effects, this 3D software is a must-have for any artist working with motion graphics software.
- Best For: 3D Animation, 3D Modeling, Animation
- Price: $3,695
Maya is a fully functional 3D application used to develop 3D assets for film, television, and video games. It has been the dominant 3D motion graphics software for many years, but now has some real competition from Cinema 4D.
While it’s used primarily for film, television, and video games, it can be used with great success in motion graphics. Its ability to process high-end 3D renders and animation is what made it a wide success. However, unlike Cinema 4D, Maya’s interface can be a little daunting for those not used to 3D software.
- Best For: High-End 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, Texturing
- Price: $1,470
Blender is a free open-source 3D software used by many artists in the video game industry. Much like Maya, Blender has a pretty steep learning curve. If an artist can get past this, then Blender’s open-source customization can open a world of possibilities.
- Best For: 3D Modeling, 3D Animation, Affordable 3D Solutions
- Price: Free