Adobe After Effects is a 2.5D animation software used for animation, visual effects, and motion picture composing. After Effects is used in film, TV, and web video creation. This software is used in the post-production phase, and has hundreds of effects that can be used to manipulate imagery. This allows you to combine layers of video and images into the same scene. However, as a professional post-production software combo, the Adobe After Effects is really complicated to use and has multiple disadvantages. And the price is really high for people to get.

All these have led people to looking for some easier to use program that could offer exactly what Adobe After Effects could do but in much simpler way. If you are looking for Adobe After Effects alternatives 2020, this guide would be helpful to you. Here we would like to recommend you 5 best free After Effects alternatives 2020.

Part 1: How to Edit Video in After Effects

Firstly, we would like to briefly show you how to edit video in After Effects in detail. Actually, Adobe After Effects enables you to do these video editing work: trim video length, crop video size, nest and pre-compose videos, lift a video, extract or remove a specific area from video, etc. The below content would show you these editing features respectively.

How to Cut Video in After Effects


Cut a video in After Effects like the razor tool blade in Premiere is relatively easy follow the instruction below:

  1. Start After Effects
  2. On the top tab bar click File > Import > Files… (Shortcut: CTRL+I (PC) | Ctrl/Cmd+Alt+I (Mac) ).
  3. Create a composition (shortcut: CTRL+N (PC) |  Command + N (Mac)).
  4. Drag and drop your video in your composition.
  5. Move the “Current time indicator” where you want to cut.
  6. Select your video in the Composition.
  7. On the top tab bar click Edit > Split Layer (Shortcut: CTRL+SHIFT+D (PC) |  Command+Shift+D (MAC)).
  8. Now you should see your video cut exactly where your “Current time indicator” was.

In this way, you could successfully cut a video within After Effects according to your needs.

How to trim a video within After Effects?

Trimming allows you to remove the unwanted frames or unwanted area of your video from the start or end of your video. It is basically a different way to cut your video inaccurately. Trim a video in After Effects is very similar to Premiere, check the instruction below:

  1. Import your video to Adobe After Effects.
  2. Create a composition.
  3. Drag your video into your composition.
  4. Move your cursor over the beginning or the end of your video layer your will see the limit icon.
  5. Drag until your reach the time you need.

How to nest/pre-compose your videos or layers in After Effects


This method below nest the entire video in a new composition

  1. Start After Effects.
  2. Import your video (Ctrl+I (Windows) | Command+I).
  3. Create a composition (shortcut: Ctrl+N (Windows) |  Command+N (MAC)).
  4. Drag your video in your Composition.
  5. Select your video layer.
  6. Right click choose Pre-Compose… (Shortcut: Ctrl+Shift+C (Windows) or Command+Shift+C (Mac OS).)
  7. Type the name your new composition.
  8. If you have added Effects to your videos select “Move all attributes into the new composition”.

Now on your project window on the left you should see your new a composition with the video in it.

How to lift a video in After Effects



Lift a video in After Effects allow you to cut a video but keep the space from the cut. Follow the below steps to learn how to lift a video in After Effects:

  1. Assuming your video is already in your timeline
  2. Drag the “Work area” blue handles and move them to the selected area you want to lift.
  3. Right Click in between the blue work area handle area and choose Lift Work Area
  4. After effects will remove the cut and keep the beginning and the end of the video

How to cut and remove a specific area of your video layer on After Effects


So you want to cut and remove a specific area of your video layer on After Effects timeline, super simple follow the instruction below or watch the animated demo below.

  1. Assuming your video is already in your timeline
  2. Drag the “Work area” blue handles and move them to the selected area you want to extract/remove.
  3. Right Click in between the blue work area handle area and choose Extract Work Area
  4. After effects will remove the cut and keep the beginning and the end of the video

These are the basic editing features you could get from Adobe After Effects. You could still get other editing features like adding a marker, speeding up or slowing down a video, etc.

Part 2: 5 Best Free Alternatives to After Effects

You could see that it’s really complicated to use Adobe After Effects for video editing. You will spend a very long time before you get into every editing feature in After Effects. Therefore, many people have been looking for alternatives to After Effects. Here we have collected 5 best free After Effects alternatives for you.

Wax - Free alternative to After Effects in Windows


Wax is a lightweight After Effects alternative for Windows only, and for totally free. With Wax, you can do composing and special effects like After Effects. This free alternative program to After Effects can either work as a standalone application or as a plugin for software like Sony Vegas. You can create 2D/3D video effects with it easily.

Blackmagic Fusion - Paid and free alternative to After Effects for Windows, Mac and Linux


Blackmagic Fusion is a professional software for adding visual effects, graphics and 3D animation. It is usually used to make visual effects and digital composing for films, TV shows, and commercials. This Adobe After Effects alternative uses a node-based interface, complicated processes of which are made by the connection of flow-chart or chart of multiple nodes. Blackmagic Fusion also provides 3D and virtual reality support, as well as unlimited network rendering and GPU boosted performance.

Natron - Free alternative to After Effects for Windows, Mac and Linux


Natron is an open-source video editor. Though the program is relatively new, users can edit video files on a rather professional level. This application can be used as After Effects alternative especially when you need professional tools for video editing. This program also allows you to use different filters and special effects when working with video content. Another advantage of this software is that it allows you to work with HD, 2K and 4K videos.

Blender - Free alternative to After Effects for Windows, Mac and Linux


Blender is FREE and open-source software that, like After Effects that can be used for creating animated graphics, visual effects, interactive 3D applications or video games. Blender's key features include 3D modeling, video editing, UV unwrapping, texturing, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, animating, and composing.

ButtleOFX - Free alternative to After Effects for Windows and Linux


ButtleOFX is an open-source compositing software which is rather simple and convenient to use. It is based on TuttleOFX, open-source architecture with the modular and sustainable architecture of image processing. The main advantage this After Effects alternative is its automatic support of OFX plug-ins.

Part 3: Edit Video with Best After Effects Alternative - Leawo Prof. Media

Above we have shared the 5 best free alternatives to After Effects. Actually, these After Effects alternatives are a little bit complicated to use as well. If you want a simpler alternative to Adobe After Effects, you can turn to Leawo Prof. Media. Leawo Prof. Media is an all-inclusive media conversion suite that could help you convert Blu-ray/DVD/video/audio files, burn videos/photos to Blu-ray/DVD, copy and back up Blu-ray/DVD, download online videos, turn photos into slideshow video, etc. As for the video editing features, Leawo Prof. Media offers more editing features, like adjusting effect, rotating video, adding image or text watermark, applying 3D effect, removing noise, etc. These editing features are accessible in an easier way compared to that of Adobe After Effects and its alternatives mentioned above.

The below guide would show you how easy it is to edit video with the best After Effects alternative - Leawo Prof. Media in detail. Firstly, download and install Leawo Prof. Media on your computer. The video editor is available in Convert and Burn modules. Here we will show you how to edit videos under the Convert module. If you want to know the editor features for Burn module, you could check how to edit video for burning to DVD/Blu-ray.


Leawo Prof. Media

☉ Decrypt, rip and convert Blu-ray/DVD to video/audio files.

☉ Convert and burn videos files to Blu-ray/DVD content.

☉ Download videos from YouTube, Facebook, VEVO, and 1000+ other video sites.

☉ Edit Blu-ray/DVD/video files to trim, crop, adjust effect, apply 3D effect, etc.

☉ Remove Cinavia protection upon Blu-ray discs

☉ Play back various media files including Blu-ray, DVD, video, audio files.

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Step 1: Launch Leawo Prof. Media

On Leawo Prof. Media program interface, open “Convert” menu to enter the “Convert” module.


Step 2: Add source media files

Under the “Convert” module, you could directly drag and drop source media files, or click “Add Video”/”Add Blu-ray/DVD” button to browse and load video files from your computer.



Leawo Prof. Media offers 3 different Blu-ray/DVD content loading modes. The Full Movie mode loads all source Blu-ray/DVD content, Main Movie mode by default loads the longest title (generally the main movie) but allows you to switch another title for loading, while Custom Mode enables you to select desired Blu-ray/DVD title(s) for loading. Choose one according to your needs.

Step 3: Set output format

Hit the button next to the “Add Photo” button and then click “Change” option to enter the “Profile” panel. Choose output format from “Format” or “Device” group according to your needs.


Click the “Edit” option on the drop-down panel next to the “Add Photo” button and then you can adjust the output video and audio parameters like video codec, video bit rate, aspect ratio, resolution, audio codec, sample rate, bit rate, channel, etc.


Step 4: Edit videos within this After Effects alternative

Now, let’s focus on how to edit videos within the best After Effects alliterative. In each loaded video title, click the “edit” icon to enter the editing panel, where you could see multiple editing features on the left panel: Trim, Watermark, Crop, Effect, 3D, Remove Noise, etc.

Trim video length

Open the “Trim” tab, dag the left limiter and the right limiter on the playbar to trim video clip and get rid of unwanted clip. You could also set the values of the “Start Time” and “End Time” below. Click “OK” to save trimming.


Add image or text watermark

Open the “Watermark” tab to add image or text watermark. Slide the “Watermark” to green and then choose to add either image or text watermark. You could also edit watermark parameters here like transparency, position, etc.


Crop video

Open the “Crop” tab and then you could crop video size to remove black margin or unwanted parts. You can firstly choose a Zoom style, and then drag the handlers of the frame on the left "Original Preview" window, or modify the parameters below for an accurate result to crop video size and remove black margins. Here you could also rotate video for special angle of view.


Adjust video effect

Under Effect tab, change video effect including Brightness, Contrast, Saturation and VolumeZoom by sliding the adjuster from -100 to 100, or directly setting a value in the box followed by.


Apply 3D effect

Under 3D tab, you can slide the 3D Mode box to green and then select a 3D effect from Red/Cyan, Red/Green, Red/Blue, Blue/Yellow, Interleaved, and Side by Side to convert 2D to 3D. 3D Depth could also be adjusted from -50 to 50 for more vivid 3D movie effect.


Remove noise

Open the “Remove Noise” tab and enable it to green to remove noise from source video files. It should be noted that this feature only removes noise from source video files. This feature is only available for editing regular videos.


With all editing work completed, click the “OK” button to save editing and exit the editing panel.

Step 5: Set output directory and start converting

After returning to the main interface, click the green “Convert” button and then click the “Save to” option to set a directory, and hit the “Convert” option to start converting.


Then, Leawo Prof. Media will output your media files with the editing features you have applied to them immediately. It won’t take you long to get the output files.

You could easily see that Leawo Prof. Media is much easier for you to edit source media files than that of After Effects and its alternatives. Leawo Prof. Media offers quite straightforward operation and interface to let you retouch media files.