What Is After Effects and Why Is It So Popular?

Adobe After Effects, more commonly known simply as After Effects, is a popular tool for animation, motion graphics design, and video compositing. It’s become an industry standard when it comes to post-production video editing. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what After Effects is and why it’s so widely used.

What Is Adobe After Effects and What Can It Do?

Video artists and post-production specialists rely on After Effects to create visually stunning video for film, TV, and web content. Here are some of the major features that make the tool so popular for post-production video editing:


After Effects allows you to add animated graphics, including text and shapes, to bring more visual interest to footage. This could be as simple as making an animated title come across the screen at the beginning of a video, or as complex as creating a fully animated 3D environment on the screen.

Special Effects

After Effects also offers hundreds of special effects that allow you to customize and manipulate the appearance of video footage. These effects can be used to stylize footage, like adding a filter, or to create totally new on-screen worlds.


The video compositing tools in After Effects allow you to combine multiple layers of video and images into a single scene. For example, you could layer footage of something in motion over a still background shot.

Keying Effects/Rotoscoping and Masking

Keying effects let you remove a background from a shot, so all the focus is on the subject. Alternatively, you can use the rotoscoping and masking tools to isolate any object.

Motion Tracking Tools

Motion tracking tools can be used to stabilize footage, apply effects to moving objects, or even add new elements that follow the camera into a shot.

Integration with Other Design Programs

In addition to all the useful built-in editing tools, Adobe After Effects also includes a lite version of 3D animation, modeling, rendering, and simulation program Maxon Cinema 4D. Naturally, After Effects also integrates with other Adobe Cloud apps, including Photoshop and Illustrator. For example, you can create artwork in Illustrator and animate it using After Effects.

Adobe After Effects VS Adobe Premiere Pro

Now that you know a little bit more about what After Effects is and what its capabilities are, let’s take a look at how it compares to Adobe’s other post-production video editing software: Premiere Pro.

Whereas After Effects offers a wide variety of features for animating, adding special effects, and more, Premiere Pro is much more limited in its scope. That’s not to say that Premiere Pro doesn’t have everything you need to create a professional looking video — you can use it to put together clips, edit and polish them, add transitions, and even edit audio.

Premiere Pro is easier for beginners to use than After Effects. It’s ideal for creating any type of standard video, such as short films, social media videos, and music videos. It’s audio capabilities are also superior to those in After Effects.

However, After Effects offers more options when it comes to creating graphics, animations, and special effects. So, if you want to make a more creative, graphic-heavy video, After Effects is a much more powerful tool.

Really, After Effects and Premiere Pro are two tools designed for two different tasks, with some overlap. The good news is that, since they’re both Adobe Cloud apps, you can easily use Premiere Pro and After Effects together to take advantage of both of their strengths!

For instance, you can start by putting the main scenes for your video together and manipulating the audio in Premiere Pro, then move on over to After Effects and create graphics for your title screens or add special effects like motion blur to certain scenes.

How Can You Learn How To Use After Effects?

If you’re interested in learning how to use Adobe After Effects, the best free resource available to you is YouTube. You can find tutorial videos on everything from basic overviews of the software to using the tool to solve very specific editing problems. YouTube is a great place to start if you want to use After Effects casually and get started right away from home.

Adobe also offers lots of free After Effects tutorials on its site. The tutorials are organized into sections like “get started,” “understand layers,” and “animating essentials,” so you can easily find what you most need help with at the moment.

If you prefer in-person instruction or if you want to learn how to use After Effects professionally, many colleges offer motion design courses, which typically include instruction on the industry-standard After Effects program.

Another option you have to learn After Effects is to take an online course focused on the program. Just type “After Effects course” into Google to pull up some of the top options from online video editing schools and sites like Udemy and MasterClass that offer courses on just about anything.

Final Thoughts on After Effects

For anyone learning about post production or looking to add a new video editing program to their repertoire of skills, you can’t go wrong with Adobe After Effects. It is a powerful tool that gives you lots of features to play with. Adobe is constantly improving After Effects and adding more functionality, so it’s no wonder it’s so popular.