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5 Must-Have After Effects Plugins and Scripts


Save time without compromising design and style with these 5 fantastic After Effects plugins and scripts.

Time is money in the motion graphic world, and there are thousands of tools out there that can help you save both. Check out these 5 indispensable After Effects plugins and scripts designed to create great animations fast.

1. Element 3D V2

Created By: Video Copilot
Price: $199 ($99 to upgrade)

If you do work in After Effects, then Element 3D needs to be installed on your computer. In short, Element 3D allows you to easily import and create 3D objects directly in After Effects.

In addition to adding extra functionality, Element 3D comes preloaded with some amazing texture packs called shaders. All of the shaders are incredibly high-end and customizable. One of the surprising features with Element 3D is the fact that it renders out so quickly. You will see a ten-fold increase in rendering speed and quality using Element 3D above ray-traced 3D in After Effects.

Element 3D was also just recently updated to include new features like ambient occlusion, subsurface scattering, aux channels, and a brand new interface. Plus, Video Copilot has dozens of tutorials on how to use Element 3D to create awesome effects. I can’t recommend this plugin highly enough.

It should also be noted that the cover image above was created using Element 3D V2. Not too shabby, right?

2. Ease and Wizz (Ian Haigh)

By: Ian Haigh
Price: Name Your Own Price

Any experienced AE motion designer will tell you that using the graph editor is essential for getting smooth animations. This is because the graph editor allows you to control movements with more precision than simply adding a bezier keyframe. However, this process does take some time. This is where Ease and Wizz comes into play.

Ease and Wizz is a script developed by Ian Haigh designed to simply add easing to your keyframes using a complex series of mathematical expressions. This allows users to have the flexibility to change keyframe distance without having to rerun the script.

Ease and Wizz users can choose between elastic movements, eases, bounces, and slides. It’s also incredibly easy to use. Simply select your keyframes, choose your settings, and click apply. Ease and Wizz integrates very easily into your current AE workflow.

3. TV Distortion Bundle

Created By: Rowbyte
Price: $149.99

Sometimes the difference between a cool project and an amazing one is data glitch. Anytime I need to add quick glitch effects to my compositions, my first choice is always the TV Distortion Bundle from Rowbyte. The Distortion Bundle is a series of plugins that can be easily be applied to your compositions to create distorted images.

The TV Distortion Bundle comes with 5 plugins: Data Glitch, Bad TV, Separate RGB, Dot Pixels, and TV Pixel. When combined with each other, there’s virtually no screen situation that you can’t simulate. I can’t recommend this plugin enough.

4. Optical Flares

Created By: Video Copilot
Price: $124.95

If you’re looking to add professional lens flares to your next video, Optical Flares is the plugin.

in for you. With Optical Flares, users can create realistic and fully customizable lens flares or use preset lens flares designed by Andrew Kramer. Unlike other lens flare plugins, the lens flares in Optical Flares can be customized to interact with the edges of the frame. In this way, lens flares in Optical Flares act very similar to those captured in-camera.

There are multiple versions of Optical Flares available, but you can get the base model for as low as $125. While this price may seem high, it’s definitely worth it.

5. Connect Layers

Created By: Motion Boutique
Price: $39.99

Connect Layers is essentially a low-cost alternative to the popular Plexus plugin, but with a few added features. The plugin lets you create ropes that simulate the physics and elasticity of, well, ropes! The plugin can also do various popular and trendy effects like connected lines and triangulation. The best part? All of the effects in Connect Layers work in 3D space.