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After Effects vs. Premiere Pro: Which Video Editing Software is Right for Your Project?

Premiere Pro and After Effects are two of the best video editing programs on the market. But which one is right for you?

Posted 28 Jul 2021
After Effects vs. Premiere Pro: Which Video Editing Software is Right for Your Project?

Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects are two of the most popular and widely used applications on the market for producing professional, high-quality video content. Both of these video editing programs offer a range of unique tools and features, and are the video software of choice for many filmmakers, videographers and content creators.

In recent years, Premiere Pro has become a go-to application for expert video editing, while After Effects is commonly used as a compositing tool for creating advanced visual effects and motion graphics. Despite their differences, both of these programs are widely acclaimed and are designed to work together effectively.

 In fact, many video creators use the two programs in tandem, with video projects often being edited in Premiere Pro first, then transferred to After Effects to apply any additional effects or finishing touches. The two applications are linked, meaning that compositing work that’s done in After Effects automatically appears in your Premiere Pro timeline without having to transfer video back and forth, creating a smooth and seamless video editing experience

While Premiere Pro and After Effects both have their strengths and weaknesses, they can each be used for all kinds of video editing. So, which is the right video editing software for your project? We explored the pros & cons of these two popular Adobe applications to find out how they can best be used. Let the battle of the video tools begin!

After Effects

What Is After Effects? 

Adobe After Effects is a popular digital visual effects, motion graphics, and compositing application. It’s often used in the post-production process of filmmaking, video game and television production. Known for its creative features and innovative applications, After Effects is commonly used for keying, tracking, compositing, and animation.

“After Effects is the industry standard when it comes to motion graphics and special effects,” says Envato’s Video Producer, Eduardo Flores. “For those who haven’t had any experience with it, a really easy way to describe it is ‘Like Photoshop but for video’. You’ll get to work with layers and layers of effects, titles and objects to manipulate your original composition in a non-destructive way, and be able to save those as presets.”

How to Use After Effects 

Easily integrated with other Adobe Creative Cloud applications such as Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder, After Effects’ Dynamic Link technology lets you work consistently between Adobe programs, allowing you to add and edit graphics and animations in your project without worrying about intermediate rendering.

Many videographers, digital artists, and post production professionals rely on After Effects to generate work for film, TV, and digital channels. It has hundreds of effects that can be used to manipulate imagery or combine layers of video and images into the same scene. After Effects is beloved due to its incredible versatility, and has been used to create some truly iconic and recognizable work – such as this Star Trek Into Darkness Title Design and this Nike X Acronym Vapormax collaboration.

After Effects is best known for its creative and innovative features which help video creators to bring their motion graphics to life. From creating simple animations to building complex 3D worlds, After Effects offers everything you need to put your creative ideas into motion.

“One thing that I’ve heard over the years is that people find After Effects to be a bit overwhelming,” says Eduardo. “I’ve been using AE for more than 12 years, and to be honest with you, I still haven’t mastered all the features! In order to get the most out of the program your computer might need some upgrades: multi-core CPU is a good place to start, add 2GB vRAM graphics card, 16-32 GB of RAM and solid state drive to speed up your workflow.”

Ready to put After Effects under the microscope? Here are some of the top benefits of this super creative video editing application… 

What are the Benefits of After Effects?

1. Animation

Perhaps the most well-known benefit of After Effects is its amazing animation capability. AE’s motion graphics feature – not to be confused with traditional animation, which is drawn frame by frame using a physical medium – is considered truly unmatched. 

Motion graphics animation in After Effects works by manipulating vectors and rasterized art. You can also integrate physical media such as photographs and videos into your animations. 

After Effects uses a variety of tools, coding, and user input to manipulate and animate media, allowing users to move, twist, scale, rotate, and transform images, text and videos to create spectacular results.

As far as animation goes, After Effects is superior to Premiere Pro.

2. Advanced Visual Effects

Offering tools such as Keylight and Rotoscoping, After Effects has the ability to create some incredibly advanced visual effects. The program prides itself on advanced text animation and 3D motion graphics, but also allows users to manipulate video and film with a range of elite post-production effects – such as smoke, fire, explosions, scene tracking, and green screen technology. 

When it comes to effects, After Effects is capable of performing almost anything you can imagine. For example, you can add post-production lighting effects, create smoke trails, or combine animation and video for a motion collage effect.  While it’s true that Premiere Pro can do most of the things After Effects can do, when it comes to advanced effects, After Effects does them better.

3. Text

In addition to photos and vector artwork, After Effects takes text manipulation to another level. Best known for its text animation feature, animated text layers can be useful for many purposes, including animated titles, 3D motion text, lower thirds, credit rolls, and dynamic typography. After Effects is well known for being the superior software for text and visual effects. 

4. Cost

After Effects costs US$20.99 per month for an individual plan, but also offers student, teacher and business pricing. Just like with Photoshop, Illustrator, and various other Adobe programs, you can purchase After Effects as a “Single App” subscription, which also includes a personal website for your creative portfolio and 20 GB of cloud storage to manage the digital files. It also comes as part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite. 

Top After Effects Templates on Envato Elements

Envato Elements is a creative subscription which gives you unlimited downloads of After Effects templates, Premiere Pro templates, stock footage, music and more. Discover more about how it can support your video projects now

If you’re on team After Effects, here are some of the best After Effects templates on Elements.

Premiere Pro

What Is Premiere Pro? 

Adobe Premiere Pro is a timeline-based video editing software application which is part of Adobe Creative Cloud collection and Adobe Creative Suite. It’s a professional-level software used to edit short-form videos, film and movies, and has quickly become the go-to program for filmmakers – both amateur and pro – all over the world. 

Premiere Pro is endorsed by many professional filmmakers, and has been used to edit some iconic feature films and some of the world’s biggest box office hits –  such as Deadpool, Gone Girl, and even Terminator: Dark Fate

“Premiere Pro is especially good for live-action videos,” says Eduardo. “You can easily import, arrange, trim and color correct your footage, edit audio tracks and create simple transitions. If you want a reliable piece of software that will help you manage all your assets and create a final product, then Premiere Pro is your weapon of choice.”

How to Use Premiere Pro

Premiere Pro can be used for many different kinds of video projects, including professional-quality, high-definition video. To use Premiere Pro, creators simply need to import their video, audio and graphics, which can then be edited using the application’s wide range of tools. Among many other features, it allows users to edit videos, motion graphics and still images together, add titles, effects and filters, and export the finished product at incredibly high quality.

As opposed to linear video editing – the way video was edited before digital cameras became the primary way of shooting film – Premiere Pro is a non-linear video editor. It allows you to start by capturing or importing content, which you can then cut into pieces. It enables users to split clips, add filters and effects, and trim frames. However, Premiere Pro is classed as a ‘non-destructive’ video editor, meaning it doesn’t permanently change the original footage. 

Premiere Pro supports high resolution video editing, and also offers audio sample editing, audio plug-in support, and 5.1 surround sound mixing. Additional plug-ins enable the program to support a wide variety of video and audio file formats on both MacOS and Windows, as well as 3D editing. 

“Premiere also uses lots of computer resources and when working on long videos with many clips, the program crashes every once in a while,” Eduardo explains. “Some of the effects included in the software are much easier to do in After Effects – like creating text animations, for example.” 

While arguably less creative and innovative than After Effects, Premiere Pro is undoubtedly a go-to software for producing professional, industry-level video content. Ready to pressure test this critically acclaimed program? Here are some of Premiere Pro’s top benefits for video.

What Are the Benefits of Premiere Pro?

1. Interface

At face value, Premiere Pro’s interface is more user-friendly and functional than the After Effects UI. This is mainly because most beginners think with a non-linear editor’s brain, rather than a compositor or animator’s brain. Premiere Pro’s interface allows for amateur video producers to create videos straight away, whereas After Effects requires some serious video tutorial watching, trial and error and time on the tools.

You can also save hours of time by using Premiere Pro in tandem with After Effects. By firing up Premiere Pro and After Effects at the same time, you can then quickly merge your After Effects changes with your original video using Premiere Pro, in a fraction of the time it takes to render straight out of After Effects.

2. Ease of Use & Workflow

Due to its more user-friendly interface, Premiere Pro is said to be much easier to use than After Effects, creating a smoother, more efficient workflow. In recent years, Adobe has worked on creating an easier workflow for Premiere Pro video editors, with one of their most recent implementations being the Essential Graphics panel. Long story short – Premiere Pro is designed to make video editors’ jobs as easy as possible. After Effects, on the other hand, poses a serious learning curve for those not so familiar with it. 

3. Audio and Sound

When it comes to audio and sound, Premiere Pro is miles ahead of After Effects. After Effects audio is known to be difficult to work with, and while it’s said to have improved, Premiere Pro is still superior – providing high-quality, real time audio that you can’t get in After Effects. Premiere Pro also has a direct link into Adobe’s sound program, Audition. By working in Premiere Pro instead of After Effects, you can drastically improve your video audio quality. 

4. Color Grading, Correction & Rendering

While After Effects does offer color correction tools – even featuring a dedicated submenu in the effects menu – Premiere Pro still comes out on top when it comes to color grading, color correction and rendering. 

Premiere Pro provides professional-level color grading and correction tools such as scopes, better handling of LUTs, and more delicate controls to help fine-tune color and tweak minute details. 

Once your footage is color graded, Premiere Pro offers a wider range of rendering options than After Effects – such as rendering in MP4 format. While you can use Media Composer for exporting with After Effects, Premiere’s workflow is superior for MoGraph projects.

5. Cost

Just like After Effects, Premiere Pro costs US$20.99 per month or US$343.07 per year, and also offers student, teacher and business pricing. Just like with Photoshop, Illustrator, and various other Adobe programs, you can purchase Premiere Pro as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud, which includes a creative portfolio and 20 GB of cloud storage to manage the digital files. When it comes to pricing, After Effects and Premiere Pro are neck and neck. 

 Top 10 After Premiere Pro on Envato Elements

If you’re team Premiere Pro all the way, here are some of the top Premiere Pro templates available with a subscription to Envato Elements.

The Final Verdict

“So, which one of these programs should you use? It really all depends on the project you’re working on,” Eduardo concludes. “Most of the time I’ll find myself working on After Effects to generate Lower Thirds or quick animations, and then putting it all together and rendering the final product on Premiere Pro. At the end of the day, your client won’t mind if you did everything on Premiere Pro or After Effects – what matters is for you to find a workflow that suits your needs so that you can create the best version of your video as you can.” 

Whether you’re team After Effects, team Premiere Pro, or a fan of both, we hope you enjoyed this battle of the video editing softwares! While each program has its individual benefits, there’s no doubt that they are best used in tandem. Don’t forget to read up on our interview with video editing wiz Premiere Gal, or check out our blog on Video Editing With the Experts!

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