In the world of software, plug-ins, and downloads, free has come back in style through open-source tools with transparent creators and bustling communities. Improve your VFX workflow with these 5 free programs available.

As working creatives, it’s easy to let your craft be confined to your job. You put in the hours, and by the time you get home you’re so burnt out and tired from deadlines and tough projects, that the last thing you want to do is boot up your computer for even more software time. Sometimes, however, there’s nothing better to reaffirm your spirit for visual effects than a classic non-work project.

With many directors and films flaunting their use of on-set effects as a more pure approach to storytelling, CG is increasingly seen as a cheap and overdone trick. Action blockbusters dominate the box office and double down on this sentiment with shallow characters and one-dimensional storylines. People within the industry have said for years, however, that good CG is a product of good movies.