In this post, I’m going to show you the top 10 best plugins for after effects 2020 that I’ve used to save me time money and sanity
I’m also giving away a bunch of licenses so stick around to the end to find out how you can win. Now I normally do 2d illustrative motion design work in after effects. So this video will be a little biased towards plugins that have helped me in that particular workflow. Now, this is not sponsored no one gave me any money to talk about their products.
Number 10: Cyclops
Number 10 is cyclops by Kyle Martinez. Cyclops is an extension that makes it possible to show off the null layers of motion paths and layer bounding boxes in your animations. If you’ve seen these behind the scenes renders on Instagram they are all using cyclops. Can do this in a couple of clicks I use this so often to make extra posts about my work on Instagram and more often than not they get more engagement than the final finished animation does.
This extension isn’t going to radically change your workflow but it’s helped me be able to post more frequently and reveal a bit more of my process on social media so for me that is well worth the price cyclops is just $10 at Kyle-Martinez.com
Number 09: Trapcode Particular
Number nine is Trapcode Particular by the red giant. Particular is an incredibly powerful particle simulator that works in 3d space and is great for VFX as well. It’s not something that I use a lot now that my work is mostly 2d but back in my staff positions where. we had to make a lot of things with a new budget look really expensive.
We use particular a lot you can make dust explosions fluid and loads of stuff that just looks crazy. Now a similarly powerful particle simulator plugin that I should mention is stardust by superluminal. Now I haven’t used this myself but I’ve heard amazing things about it, so I can’t in good conscience recommend particular over stardust without giving it a fair shot.
So know that you have more than one option for a high-end particle simulator particular is $49.92 a month with the RedGiant.com suite subscription or $399 for one-off payment stardust is $299 at aescripts.com
Numer Eight: Deep Glow
Number eight is a deep glow by plug-in everything. This plug-in is amazing for adding realistic natural glows in one click, without this you can get a similar-ish effect by stacking three to eight standard glows on top of each other and adjusting their radiuses and intensities. Deep Glow saves you a lot of time in that process it’s GPU accelerated so it runs faster and has options for chromatic aberration which I love it’s just great for adding realistic lighting to your work
Deep Glow is $49.95 at aescripts.com
Number Seven: Element 3D
Number seven is element 3d by video copilot which is an advanced 3d object and particle rendering system inside after-effects which just means that you can use 3d stuff inside after-effects. You can import objects and cinema 4d files and get a great preview in your composition window.
Now, this obviously isn’t anywhere near as advanced as a full 3d software package. But a lot of the time you might not need that and it can be a lot quicker to do it straight in after-effects. If it’s simple and you can see from these examples that it can pull off a lot of amazing realistic looks
Element 3d is $199.95 at VideoCopilot.com and they’ve got additional shader packs and add-ons as well if you just can’t get enough of those textures
Number Six: Joysticks & Sliders
Number six is joysticks and sliders by mike over back. It is a character rigging tool that is really powerful, I found this especially useful for character heads and faces and the new tool makes rigging as fun. This you set up the angle of your design of your character looking left-right-down-up and straight ahead.
Then it connects everything for you and gives you a single joystick where you can control every angle that they look at just based on those five positions and the slider feature can be used way more creatively to create really experimental rigs quickly and easily
Joysticks & Sliders is $39.95 at Aescripts.com
Number Five: After Codex
Number five is after codex by autochrome. This is one of the biggest workflow time saves for me it’s not incredibly sexy essentially what it does is put a lot of encoding and rendering options inside the after-effects render queue. So now I really don’t have to think about render settings at all I either render it as a prores or h364 and it does all of that out of after-effects.
This was particularly useful when you couldn’t render prores on windows and also claims that some of their settings give you a faster render of a higher quality with lower file size now I’ve done some a b testing and found that was generally true for me but the real reason I use this is that because rendering just used to get needlessly complicated sometimes and since installing after codecs my renders just work and they come out as expected I don’t need to think about it after codex is $89 at aescripts.com
Number Four: Limber
Number four is limber by Steve Kirby. Limba is my favorite rigging system because it’s so simple and minimal it’s been the most intuitive one that I’ve used and you can have a walk cycle up and running up and walking in no time and this was a big help in making the character animation process less daunting to me and limbo recently had a big update which allows you to really easily rig your own artwork to the limbs which is super handy now it does work similar to a rubber hose by adam Plouffe which is also great especially if you want those bendy limbs i recommend them both highly but i definitely prefer the results i get out of limbo just a little bit more Limber is 39.99 at aescripts.com and rubber hose is $45 at battleaxe.com
Number Three: Motion
Number three is the motion by mountmograph. This is a swiss army knife plug-in it’s got a whole bunch of features that make a lot of complicated tasks in after effects much easier it has sliders for keyframe influence. Now a graph display and that makes adding easing to your keyframes really quick.
My favorite of the other tools is these arrows that align the anchor point to the edges of whatever layer you’ve got selected. So you can choose whether the anchor points in the middle or the top or the right or left corner. Wherever you need it to be nick Greenwald has an extensive breakdown of this on his awesome youtube channel about why it’s his favorite plugin it really is great motion v2 was the first plugin that I ever bought back in 2015 and I use it every day
It’s $65 at MountmoGraph.com
Number Two: Overlord
Number two is overlord by adam Plouffe. An extension that allows you to essentially copy and paste vector shapes from illustrator to after effects and vice versa. I resisted buying this for a long time because I thought I could just import the ai file like. We’ve always done back in the good old days how much time is this realistically going to save me.
I was dead wrong removing that friction from saving an illustrator file importing it and converting to vector shapes has been such a game-changer in my workflow I still import ai files
But if I get something on the wrong layer or I need to adjust a bezier point I would normally either just ignore it or try to cover it up with a mask or try to hack together some band-aid solution but now I can just make the change in illustrator and push it to after-effects in a couple of clicks.
I don’t even have to think about it if you animate a lot with vector shapes overlord will pay for itself in time saved in no time and if you’re on the fence like I was I hope I’ve convinced you
Otherwise, the overlord is $45 at BattleAxe.co
Number One: Flow
Number one is flow by render tom. Flow is another amazing plugin that I slept on, it’s essentially a mini graph editor that sits in your window and you can intuitively add all sorts of custom easings to your keyframes quickly and intuitively.
A great sense of easing and timing is by far the biggest factor separating mediocre work from great work. If you’re a beginner it will get you comfortable with a graph editor if you’re already a graph editor pro this will save you lots of time in your workflow.
It comes with a whole bunch of preset easing values and even though I think you should mostly use your own the fact that there’s a visual reference of the motion curve is huge for understanding how the motion curve and the animation are linked
You can also save your custom easing values to use later with one click and even save a library of custom animation curves that you can share with other animators on a project so that all the motion is consistent and flow is $30 from aescripts.com I’d highly recommend it to anyone
Now I know a lot of these plugins have some pretty hefty price tags attached to them but I think all of them are great value especially when you consider how much time it’s going to save
I like to think about it in relation to my day rate if I think a tool can save me an hour of work over 12 months I think it’s definitely worth $50 at least. And if it does something that I can’t do on my own or makes the process a lot easier that’s a big plus for me as well