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5 Clever After Effects Plugins Worth Checking Out

5 Clever After Effects Plugins Worth Checking Out

Here are five After Effects plugins all VFX artists and filmmakers need to know about.

There’s an ocean of useful After Effects plugins out there, and there have been several stand-outs over the last couple of years we’ve covered, like Lockdown and the LoopMaker. Since After Effects plugins can come from so many different sources, it can be hard to keep up with all the plugins that are available.

Here's a shot we produced using the Lockdown plugin!
In this blog, we’re going to share with you several great plugins that can send your VFX look and workflow soaring to new heights!

1. Orb 

Video Copilot | Free | Download Here


Nothing beats a free After Effects plugin, and the fact that Orb can help you generate an entire solar system of planets makes it even better! The planets you create can have photorealistic properties with dense atmospheres, and it’s never been easier to make something as epic as a planet look this stunning.

Users of Element 3D will feel at home in Orb’s interface, which offers a ton of control on the parameters of your planets. You can create custom texture maps, diffusion, animation, anything you can think of.

If you’re looking for some inspiration, you can check out Andrew Kramer’s behind-the-scenes video on building the interplanetary title sequence for Star Trek: Into Darkness. It came way before Orb’s release, but was no doubt a major stepping stone in its development.

2. Lenscare

Frischluft | $199 | Download Demo Here


The beauty of Lenscare is that you can create compellingly realistic depth-of-field effects with a 2D engine inside of After Effects. Rather than render something in C4D with depth-of-field baked into it, you can use Lenscare in After Effects to apply your depth-of-field effects.

This lets you easily adjust and review the effect much more rapidly, and it even simulates various apertures, giving you incredibly natural bokehs.
Source: Frischluft | www.frischluft.com/lenscare/index.php
You can also take a scene that was filmed perfectly in focus, and add an interesting digital focus rack, or simulate a miniature world with tilt shift-look. Lenscare is based around a simple concept, but it’s a very powerful tool for VFX work.

3. GEOlayers 3 

Markus Bergelt | aescripts | $279.99 | Download Demo Here


If you’ve ever been tasked with creating an animated map in After Effects, you’ll understand how challenging that job can quickly become. Fortunately, GEOlayers 3 makes not only stylized map creation but also map animation a breeze. 

On top of generating completely customizable terrain with accurate geography, GEOlayers 3 can also perform everything from route animations to building extrusions. 

Thanks to its integration with massive geospatial databases, the plugin’s page touts that GEOlayers 3 can make an editable After Effects asset out of “anything in the world that has geodata.”

GEOlayers 3 from GEOlayers on Vimeo.

4. Trapcode Mir 3

Red Giant | $99 | Download Demo Here


Chances are you’re familiar with Red Giant’s Trapcode Suite, but not too long ago, they released Trapcode Mir 3, an outstanding (and affordable) plugin for creating unique 3D terrain, surfaces, wireframes, and objects.

The ability to bring 3D objects directly into the Trapcode Mir interface along with texturing and lighting is so cool, and probably easier to use than any other 3D tool out there. You can also use Trapcode Mir 3 in tandem with GEOlayers 3 for even more exciting maps in 3D. 

5. iExpressions 3

Mamoworld Tools | aescripts | $99.99 | Download Demo Here


Sure, you could spend a significant amount of time learning and building scripts in After Effects...but if there’s a shortcut for the same end result, why not get there quicker? iExpressions 3 takes the code-building out of expressions, allowing you to focus on visual creativity without bogging down your time with cumbersome expression code writing.

Expression controls are simplified with sliders and easy parameter controls, giving you the ability to more easily experiment and fine-tune your creation without constantly going back to adjust the expression’s code.
We hope you enjoyed this list of five really impressive plugins that can make any After Effects project truly shine.

What are some of your go-to After Effects plugins?  We’d love to know in the comments below!

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