After Effects Plugins and Effects you should use

Recently, i started a discussion on the Motion Exchange amongst the many Motion Graphics Profressionals, on what their favourite or top After Effects plugins or effects were, or ones they considered essential to their workflow.  Their were certainly a couple that cropped up often, so here we go presenting some of those that crop up.

Trapcode Particular

Trapcode Particular is one of the plugins that cropped up by almost everyone.  Trapcode’s Particular is a 3D particle plugin for After Effects, it can produce a wide range of particle effects from smoke/fire to organic lines.  It even includes options for things like depth of field, gravity and wind.  It has also recently been upgraded to Version 2 which adds to the already brilliant previous version.

If you would like to try this plugin Trapcode offer a trail version.  Below is a good selection of tutorials to get you started.

Create a Breathtakingly Awesome Rain Scene

Creating Light Streaks

Audio to Animation

Ink Bleeding Effect in After Effects (Like Gnarls)

Fractal Noise

Fractal noise also cropped up in the discussion.  Fractal Noise is one of the effects that ships with After Effects (at least all the later ones, if your still on something like after effects 4, then i’m not sure, my use doesn’t go that far back!)

In simple terms, the Fractal Noise effect generates a fractal noise pattern on a solid. How is this so useful you’ll probably be asking yourself?  Well, it becomes useful because you can use the fractal noise effects to drive other layers, use the layer as an adjustment layer or use it with a different blending mode, and that’s just the start!  If you want to add any kind of randomness to something then, this is definitely the effect for you, whether you need organic randomness, or digital block randomness.

Here’s a selection of tutorials to get you started with using the fractal noise plugin

Fractal Noise Fade Effect

Combining Effects with AEs Fractal Noise Effect

Animate Your Logo into Characters

Build a Car Racing scene from Photographs Part 1

Even More Trapcode Plugins!

Yes, the plugins made by trapcode get another mention! Trapcode produce a number of plugins and by the looks of it they regularly get used by motion designers, as well as the ubiquitous Particular, Trapcode also make plugins such as Form, 3D Stroke and Shine.  All the Trapcode plugins are worth checking out, so make sure you download the trial versions

Other worthy mentions for plugins that could come in useful include:

Zaxwerks 3D invigorator

3D invigorator is a handy little plugin for making 3d text if you can’t afford the likes of Cinema 4D or don’t won’t use the workaround of making loads of multiple layers in a pre comp.  You can create the 3D text and assign different colours or textures to different sides, there’s a camera built into the plugin or you can choose to use your Composition’s camera.  Definitely worth checking out.

Magic Bullet

Magic Bullet Looks and Magic Bullet Mojo are a set of plugins to give your footage a set of colour grading looks.  They’re handy if you just stepping into grading your footage, but it’s definitely worth learning how to grade your footage manually, then you can either use the builder built into the plugins or use a colour grading application like Apple’s Color.

So there we go, a round up of some of the plugins that the professional’s use that you should consider using in your workflow.  Have a go with these plugins, see what they can do, and maybe post a video in the comments.