Top 5 Best Free After Effects Plugins Sites
A not so well kept secret about animation is that more often than not, professionals will use After Effects plugins and templates to create the end product. While you may find your moral compass twinge at first, this isn’t cheating, in fact, it makes sense from both a time and cost perspective.
While it’s not recommended that you present these pre-made templates to clients, or use them in their entirety in your work, they can be helpful. After Effects templates can be broken up to use specific effects, transitions or text elements. They can also teach even the most experienced animator new tricks when using them as the building blocks. If you have no animation experience, but it is something that interests you, learning how to use After Effects plugins is a good place to start. Anyway without any further ado, here are our 5 top sites for After Effects Plugins and Templates.
The Most Flexible → Videoblocks
Average Template Price: $149/Year (Unlimited Downloads) or 7 day free trial
Videoblocks is a stock footage and After Effects templates website, run by Storyblocks, the people behind Audioblocks and Graphicstock. Boasting more than $10 million worth of clips available to download, alongside thousands more from its user-generated Marketplace.
Unlike the previous sites on this list, with Videoblocks you pay an annual membership to access their content opposed to a per clip price. User-generated content from their marketplace is also attractively priced at around $50 a plugin. Alongside the standard stock footage, Videoblocks hosts some impressive After Effects plugins and templates. Whereas with Videohive you have to be careful about your download section so as not to break the bank, with Videoblocks you can download as much as your mind can handle.
Utilising these template elements makes for a more creative approach to building motion graphics slideshows and text elements. You don’t need to find that one perfect After Effects plugin to download, instead, download the lot and mix and match. If you like a text element from one template and a light leaks effect from another, no problem.
Videoblocks are also the perfect place for people starting out on their After Effects journey. One of the best ways to learn animation it to play around with remade projects, turn things on and off, move them around, try and change them and see what happens. Once you have experimented and learned your way around, you can start combining the templates to create your project. After a while, you will learn all the skills you need to create your own template from scratch.
The Most Concise → Rocketstock
Average Template Price: $49
Rocketstock is an After Effects template website run by Shutterstock. While they do not have a massive collection, the quality of the templates are some of the best I’ve have seen, and I’m sure this site will expand its collections in the foreseeable future to something more comprehensive. Rocketstock currently has a collection of 182 After Effects templates and 11 video packs. The template selection consists of stunning titles and dynamic video slideshows. Some of the selection is quite’ corporate’ which is great if you are in need of a business presentation, but amongst these are a small collection of title templates that could add huge production value for the budget conscious filmmaker.
The video packs offer a cost-effective way to increase your animation capabilities instantly. ‘Creator’ offers over 250 AE elements, including animated social media icons, lower thirds and title cards, perfect for any online content creator. Sumi offers 65 ink transitions, and Illuminate offers 125 light leak elements. The site offers affordable templates with prices ranging from $39 – $99. Furthermore, the licensing side of things is super simple; once you buy a template, you can use it as many times as you like for as long as you like. On the off chance you’re still not sold, sign up to Rocketstocks mailing list, and you will receive one free element a month, straight to your inbox.
The Most Reasonably Priced → Videohive
Average Template Price: $40
Videohive is a part of the Envato collection, which includes Theme Forrest, Audio Jungle and Graphic River. The site boasts nearly 50 thousand different After Effects plugins and templates, with over half a million film based assets including Motion templates and stock footage, so there is a wide selection.
Videohive is a marketplace, so many different users are selling their projects, and the quality of each can vary but is generally pretty decent. Elements start at just $6, so you can find some real bargains on the site if you’re willing to spend the time looking. Amongst the available assets are some pre-rigged characters, ready to animate which is a real time saver on projects. While AE CC has solved some character animation issues with their Character Animator program, if you are still using After effects 5 or 6, this might offer a solution to the laborious task of rigging. There are also some awesome pre-rendered element packs on VideoHive, allowing you to drop them into projects to save time.
The Most Extensive → Pond5
Average Template Price: $60
Pond5 is similar to Rocketstock in both pricing and selection, but with a significantly larger catalogue of After Effects plugins and templates. Nearly 10,000 logo reveals, video slideshows, 3D models and elements packs to faun over. However, a lot of the content available on the site is very corporate themed, but there are a wealth of Movie Trailer templates to look through if your passions lay with more creative endeavours.
Like many of the other sites featured, Pond5 offers an annual membership, which also covers their stock footage, music, sound effects and graphic design. At £385 a year (or £80 per month), this is isn’t one of the cheapest membership packages there is, but for a budding filmmaker it might be all you’ll ever need. It’s worth noting that like Videoblocks not all Pond5 content is included in the membership fee, and all premium content is separately priced.
The Most Versatile → Mister Horse
Average Template Price: $40
Unlike the other sites, Mister Horse offers no templates, but it is without a doubt the most versatile of all the After Effects plugin sites listed here. The Mister Horse animation composer is a plugin that no animator should be without, yes it’s really that good.
The free animation composer adds over variations of translations, effects and titles, all available from its own workspace window, this After Effects plugin can literally save you hours of keyframing. The simple drag and drop function includes a range of 2D and 3D rotation, scale and position transitions that work with text or graphics. There are also a plethora of prebuilt lower thirds that are easy to customise and rearrange.
Once you have to hang if the free version it is well worth looking at the paid add-ons; If anything Mister Horse animation composer gives you more choice that you necessarily need, and to begin with; you may find you spend more time experimenting with the various presets.
If you are looking to do infographic style animations, this plugin is a must-have, and the additional paid for packages are well worth the money. Animation composer is a powerful After Effects plugin that will change your workflow completely; I can’t recommend it highly enough.
So why use After Effects Plugins?
Whether you’re looking for a particular project or just want to increase your After effects capabilities, these sites can really help you cost-effectively create a more polished production and improve your skillset.
Some of these After Effects plugins and templates sites we have covered are marketplaces, which you may want to utilise while you hone your animation skills. Selling your own projects may sound like fun, and could potentially earn you a decent amount of money, but be careful – between site fees and tax (specifically if you are not in the country the company is based in) it can cost a good percentage of any potential earnings. Add that to the huge competition in the marketplace; you might decide to invest your time elsewhere.