From light sabers to holograms, these 15 free After Effects plugins will level up your effects game.
After Effects is a wonderful piece of visual effects software that you can always make better and faster with the help of the right plugins. Videvo offers all kinds of After Effects assets, from titles and infographics to animations and overlays, but if you’re looking for free After Effects plugins to customize your own effects, look no further than this list.
We’ve compiled 15 free After Effects plugins that do everything from creating title crawls in one click to making holograms and lightsabers.
1. FX console
This plugin from Video Copilot comes highly recommended. VFX artists swear by FX Console — many believe it should just be built into the software.
The plugin adds a toolbar to After Effects that makes searching for effects a breeze. Instead of navigating menus, you can find the effect you want with a few keystrokes. Better yet, once you find the effect, you can immediately apply it to the layer you’re currently working on. While it’s not the flashiest effect on this list, it’s by far the most useful.
Speaking of flashy plugins, Saber is another gem from Video Copilot you need. The plugin allows you to recreate the lightsaber effect from Star Wars. Whether you’re making titles or filming a lightsaber sequence, this free plugin is all you need.
Saber has 50 presets and several customizable options to get the perfect energy beam for your shot. Just take a look at the trailer to check it out.
As explained on the Rift download page, the plugin “provides methods to shift, sequence, stagger, or randomize layers properties like in and out points, keyframes, markers and more, presented in a compact UI.” Put another way, Rift is a shifting script that allows you shift multiple layers at once.
This is done via the toolbar, which lets you, for example, shift layers in descending or ascending order within a set number of keyframes. With this plugin, you no longer have to shift each layer in the timeline, which saves a lot of time.
Though the download page lists the plugin at $29.99, that’s only a suggested price. You can download it for free.
4. Duik Bassel
There are many character rigging and animation plugins, but Duik Bassel 2 gets mentioned a lot. The plugin lets you take a character from a static object to a fully animated one. As you can see in this video, the toolbar for this plugin looks like a lot to take in, but there’s enough here to use. If you’re planning on rigging or animating characters in your shots, this is a free plugin you’ll want to install.
5. Displacer Pro
Displacer Pro from Plugin Everything allows you to displace objects with translation, rotation, and scale. The chromatic aberration tool gives movement a glitchy look that will certainly stand out. While you won’t use it all the time, it’s great for creating interesting, trippy transitions with just a few clicks. Just check it out for yourself in the video trailer.
The free tool has GPU acceleration, taking advantage of powerful graphics cards for an even faster, smoother experience.
This Zelda-inspired plugin is extremely simple to use, requiring only a single button to apply the effect. Hylian lets you duplicate a layer, with keyframe properties, as Battle Axe puts it, “linked back to the original layer.” It’s a link to the past that saves you the trouble of recreating the same keyframes on multiple layers. It’s a simple tool with many creative uses.
7. Pan and Zoom
This is the Ken Burns effect reincarnated as a plugin. If you’re familiar with the famous documentarian’s work (and even if you’re not), you know about this particular effect, which zooms in on an image over a period of time. There’s not much more to say about Pan and Zoom, as the title explains it all.
In addition to being compatible with After Effects, this plugin also works with Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and Motion. However, it’s only compatible with computers running Intel or Apple CPUs. (Sorry, AMD users.)
FX Factory makes the list once again, this time with the Manifesto plugin. It’s another plugin that simplifies tedious tasks. With Manifesto, you can easily create title crawls with no keyframes required. You just type out the text, and Manifesto takes it from there. Again, this won’t work with AMD-powered computers.
Keeping with the Star Wars-themed effects — i.e., lightsaber and title crawl effects — we get Hologram. It turns any object into a hologram. The effect comes with several plugins to recreate iconic hologram projections, but you can also customize every property to make it your own. For example, you can add projection rays to make it seem like the hologram is being projected from a droid, or you can adjust the signal interference and flicker for a corrupted hologram look. This is one of the coolest plugins on this list and worth checking out, even if it’s just for fun.
Glow is another plugin from Production Crate. The plugin adds a more intense glow to anything you apply it to. While After Effects also has a glow effect, the one from Production Crate is much more vibrant, with many customizable parameters, such as the intensity of the glow and glow spread. Based on how simple and effective this effect is, there’s a good chance you’ll use it often.
11. AE Juice GIF
AE Juice GIF turns your composition into a GIF in one click. It’s crazy simple to use, and it will save you so much time when you need to preview or share a composition.
12. Vibrant Color
Video Copilot is back on this list with Color Vibrance, an all-in-one plugin for applying vibrant colors to your effects. It’s as simple as picking your color and turning on the effect to get those hot colors. While you can do it in one click, you can also manually adjust vibrance, brightness, gamma, and other settings. Additionally, it works on pre-matted clips, and the plugin allows you to create Alpha channels.
13. True Comp Duplicator
True Comp Duplicator lets you duplicate a composition hierarchy and its sub-compositions. It’s useful for recreating the same effects on multiple compositions without affecting the original composition. Like many of the plugins on this list, this one will save you the hassle of doing things manually for future compositions.
14. Reposition Anchor Point
This is about as straightforward as a plugin can be. Reposition Anchor Point does just as the title explains: it lets you reposition the anchor point of a layer without changing its position. Useful, simple, and free. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t download it.
Finally, we have Orb from Video Copilot. With this plugin, you can create stunning planets from 3D spheres that will lend your sci-fi projects jaw-dropping realness. You can customize the plugin to create almost any kind of planet you can imagine, including the atmosphere, reflections, and the surface texture.
Still, a planet floating in space wouldn’t be complete without a backdrop full of stars, which is why you can also apply and customize a star map. Whether or not you need this plugin, it’s incredible that Orbs is free. Why not add it to your library.
Cover image via Freepik.
Looking for some music for your projects? At Videvo, our library has everything from free ambient music to music for streams — perfect for any indie project:
- Royalty-free Christmas music
- Royalty-free meditation music
- Royalty-free upbeat music
- Royalty-free jazz music
- Royalty-free Halloween music
Need a break? Check out our videvoscapes — the ultimate reels for relaxation or concentration. Each videvoscape collects hours of high-definition nature footage and background video with downtempo chill beats for the ultimate escape from the grind.