After Effects has been an Industry Standard Visual Effects Software from the past decade. Motion Graphics Artist around the world recommends this software since it serves all the essential features required to produce amazing Visual Effects and Motion Graphics. With Every update, After Effects has been loaded with tons of new features. What makes this software great is the compatibility with third party plugins. These After Effects Plugins helps in boosting your creativity and add new features to your existing version of the software.

Though there are hundreds or maybe thousands of After Effects Plugins available, but there are very few which actually serves a purpose and can be considered essential and must have After Effects Plugins.

Let’s take a look at 5 Essential and Premium After Effects Plugins, every Motion Graphics Artist must have.

Essential and Must Have After Effects Plugins

Essential and Must Have After Effects Plugins

Trapcode Particular

Trapcode Particular is the Industry standard particle system for After Effects. Trapcode Particular goes way, way beyond the basics, with realistic natural effects, lighting control for shaded particles, 3D camera integration, custom shapes, depth of field, and physics controls such as air resistance, gravity and turbulence. Particular is used in motion pictures like Spider Man 3 and Angels & Demons.

The above video demonstrate the use of Trapcode Particular very skillfully and beautifully.

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Optical Flares

Optical Flares is a plugin by Video Copilot for designing and animating realistic lens flares in After Effects. Some key features of Optical Flares are:

  • On-Lens Simulations – Simulate dust & scratches on your lens that becomes visible by the light source. Includes 12 HD lens textures or use your own.
  • 3D Occlusion – Obscure layers by alpha or luminance to simulate the light source going behind objects in the foreground. Works with 2D & 3D layers.
  • Luminance Tracking – Generate a lens flare from bright spots in your video such as a particle system or matte layer. Control resolution and threshold.
  • Mask Positioning – Animate lens flares along the contour of complex shapes with ease. Great for detailed shapes that would require extra key framing.
  • Light Flickering – Make lights appear more energetic with random light flickering featuring a unique seed for each light source. Choose from smooth or Twitchy.
  • 32 Bit & GPU Ready – Optical Flares renders up to 32 bpc offering high color fidelity as well as enhanced speed with Graphics card acceleration.

Essential and Must Have After Effects Plugins

Optical Flares includes over 90 minutes of After Effects training by Andrew Kramer. Learn to use Optical Flares with several real world examples and in-depth information on building complex lens flare presets from scratch.

Purchase Optical Flares!

Element 3D

Element 3D is a Fast Open GL 3D object based particle Rendering Engine for After Effects. Element 3D is designed to be used whenever it will save you time or make your job easier. Element provides artists with 3D solution right out of the box and with various 3D Model Packs, it is easy to find great models to use right away.

Element uses fast Open GL rendering instead of the per-pixel Raytracing found in traditional 3D programs. The main difference with Open GL rendering is that objects do not reflect other objects in your scene. However, Element does use Reflection Mapping to generate the appearance of reflectivity without compromising speed.

Element 3D works at compositing speed, which means you can see the final look of your scene while you make changes with virtually no interruptions.

Element 3D Version 2 will be released in the month of November 2014. Read full Plugin Announcement now.

Purchase Element 3D

Camera Tracker

3D camera tracker & match mover for After Effects

CAMERATRACKER for After Effects plugin allows you to pull 3D motion tracks and matchmoves without having to leave After Effects. It analyses the source sequence and extracts the original camera’s lens and motion parameters, allowing you to composite 2D or 3D elements correctly with reference to the camera used to film the shot.

You can now match camera moves within Adobe After Effects 2.5D environment, opening up new, robust options for the placement of composite elements. Create Fringe / Heroes style ‘in scene’ titles, insert animated design elements, match-move virtual set extensions, motion-track projection mapping and much more.

Where Adobe’s onboard 3D Camera Tracker offers ease of use and high automation for a wide range of users, The Foundry’s CAMERATRACKER will continue to offer greater control over complex tasks. CAMERATRACKER continues to be the tool of choice for those needing extra help when facing tricky tracking tasks on complicated projects thanks to its refinement options, advanced 3D feature preview and lens distortion handling.

  Buy / Rent / Trial

Trapcode Suite

Trapcode Suite is the essential plug-in suite for motion graphics and VFX artists. Work created with Trapcode Suite can be seen everyday on TV and in many movies such as Terminator Salvation, Angels and Demons, Sin City, Spider Man 3, Quantum of Solace, The Day after Tomorrow, etc. See some amazing work done with Trapcode tools in the Gallery.

trapcode suite

The suite includes ten products: Mir™, Shine™, Particular®, Form™, Lux™, Echospace™, 3D Stroke™, Sound Keys™, Horizon™ and Starglow™. All plug-ins work in Adobe After Effects.

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