In today’s post we’ll be examining the biggest differences between After Effects and Premiere Pro. Which should you be using as a video editor? Is one better than the other or are they just different? Let’s get into it!
One place you will find access to both editing programs is Adobe Creative Cloud.
Adobe’s Creative Cloud has revolutionized the software world for filmmakers these days.
I say that truthfully because I remember when I first began editing videos. After spending several hundred dollars on every single software program that I needed, I’d also have to purchase the updates to those programs year after year.
I probably spent at least $1k a year on 2-3 programs.
Until Adobe came along with the Creative Cloud.
What is the Creative Cloud?
Confused about the cloud? Me too. The internet is just confusing.
Fortunately, the Creative Cloud is a pretty easy concept. Basically it’s Adobe’s way of giving you access to any of their programs for a set monthly fee. Included will be all the updates to that software at any time.
This is important because it means that any inevitable bugs in the software are constantly being fixed and resolved.
The price you pay each month will depend on how many programs you would like to have access to.
This is great across the board. It’s great for those of us who just need one program, since it’s an inexpensive monthly fee.
And it’s also great for those of us who want access to many different programs, because there’s an option to get all the programs for an affordable monthly price as well. Much less than if you were to buy each program individually.
This brings us to the topic of today’s comparison: which is better Adobe After Effects or Premiere Pro?
If you’re pursuing the options for programs on Adobe’s Creative Cloud and wondering which you need more, today’s post should help you answer that question.
Let’s get into the details of each program and break down which might be best for you.
Pros and Cons of After Effects Verses Premiere Pro
Before we get too far into the details of each program, you should know that comparing these two programs isn’t exactly apples to apples.
We aren’t comparing two editing programs that have the exact same functions with different layouts (the way you might do with Premiere Pro vs. Final Cut Pro, for example).
While After Effects and Premiere Pro overlap in many functions of video editing, they are very different in their main functions.
They can both do many of the same tasks, like text animation and audio editing, but they do them in very different ways.
After Effects will give you unlimited control over your text animation, whereas Premiere Pro will give you just the bare bones without much ease of use.
Premiere Pro will give you greater control and ease of use over your audio edits, whereas After Effects can do the same tasks, but it won’t be straightforward or fast.
These are just two examples of common functions that both programs can handle, but in very different ways.
The reason is because each program was designed for a different user.
So, which user are you and which program will fit your needs the best?
Let’s begin by exploring exactly what each program is good at (and not good at) and who that program is designed for.
Adobe Premiere Pro: An Overview
Premiere Pro is the industry standard for video editors.
To put it simply, it’s a powerhouse when it comes to creating just about anything you need for professional quality video edits.
Who Is Premiere Pro Best Suited For?
Because of it’s ease of use and ability to handle just about any project from start to finish, Premiere is the perfect choice for so many different types of filmmakers.
To cut to the chase, if you had to choose only one option between Premiere Pro and After Effects, it’s probably going to be Premiere.
The simple reason is because it can do just about anything that you’ll need from basic to advanced video edits.
Here’s who it’s great for:
Premiere Pro is for the beginner filmmaker looking to learn how to edit. It’s for the seasoned editor that needs a one stop shop to do everything.
It is perfect for YouTube creators, as well lifestyle, family filmmakers like myself.
Guess what? It’s also exactly what I used to produce small commercial films with my team of creative filmmakers at our local ad agency.
Main Functions of Premiere Pro
Let’s get into the details of exactly what Premiere Pro is good at.
1 | Compatibility and Versatility with Imports
Adobe Premiere Pro boasts that it can edit footage in any format from any camera.
Not only that but because of the creative cloud constantly evolving and developing updates to meet new industry standards, there’s no doubt that Premiere Pro will keep up with the trends of new cameras and technology, like 8K and virtual reality videos.
This also means that Premiere Pro is a great choice for just about any camera user, from GoPro and iPhone footage to DSLR and mirrorless, and even high end RED cinema cameras.
2 | Look and Feel of the Interface and Overall Design
Premiere Pro’s editing windows are easy to customize and intuitive to use right out of the box.
There are many drag and drop functions that make it easy to navigate even for beginners.
The windows are fully customizable, so users to can manipulate the editing platform as they see fit.
There are numerous options for how to achieve a task, including customizable keyboard shortcuts, toolbars, as well as simply using the mouse to drag and drop or double-click most functions.
3 | Basic to Advanced Video Edits
Premiere Pro’s interface maintains the setup of a very traditional video editing platform. I like this about Premiere Pro. They didn’t try to reinvent the wheel and make us editors relearn how to use an editing program.
They’ve simply refined it in many ways over the years to make it better and even more well designed.
All that to say, if you’re used to using another video editing platform, like Final Cut Pro or iMovie, it won’t be difficult at all to transition over to Premiere Pro.
Premiere Pro has made it easy to import your footage and get organized within your project so you can locate your content quickly.
Easily preview your clips by double clicking and loading them into the source window.
Using the Timeline:
With the use of keyboard shortcuts or simple drag and drop method, it’s simple to create a rough draft of your story in the sequence timeline.
Effortlessly adjust the fine tuning of your clips in the timeline window with keyboard shortcuts, use the toolbar, or drag and drop with your mouse.
4 | Audio Edits and Sound Effects with Essential Sound
When it comes to audio editing, it’s just as simple. You can easily drag the audio clips to your timeline, adjust the timing, volume, channels and more.
Premiere Pro now even has a feature called Essential Sound, which allows you to fine tune your audio, fix noise problems, and more all within Premiere Pro.
In the Essential Sound panel, you’ll find the Automatic Loudness option, which sets the level for audio clips. With one click, you can be confident that your vocals all have the same volume.
If your project is a presentation to camera with background music, you can use automatic audio ducking to reduce the volume of your music whenever there are vocals.
You can also easily add impact to your mix with audio effects — ranging from straightforward effects, designed to improve the sound of vocals, to creative ones like echo and chorus.
Soundstripe has now made it even easier to integrate royalty free music and sound effects into your actual project files.
Overall, I can’t say enough about the ease of use within Premiere Pro.
5 | Color Correction with Lumetri Window
One of the best features that Premiere has added over the past few years has been their improvements to the ease of use of color correction.
It used to be that all of the advanced color correction had to be done in After Effects, but those days are gone.
You can now achieve just about all the same essential color corrections within Premiere Pro using the Lumetri Color panel. This includes adjusting the colors and brightness of your visuals. It can also mean adjusting colors and fixing the wrong lighting used during filming.
What is the Lumetri Color Panel?
The Lumetri Color panel offers several types of color adjustments. There are automatic color adjustment options to correct or match colors between camera angles, and advanced controls for professional color finishing.
Match clip colors
One of the first steps to take when you work with color is to make sure that all of your visuals have a consistent appearance. To maintain continuity, they should look like they were shot at the same time, on the same day, with the same lighting and camera setup.
LUTS and Presets
You can also import or download certain color styles or ‘looks’ that other artists have made. This way you can add visual style to your film with a simple click of a button.
Curves and More Advanced Adjustments
Not only that, but you have full control over adjusting some of the more intricate aspects of color design, like curves, color wheels, and HSL secondary colors.
6 | Editing Graphics with Essential Graphics and MOGRT
Premiere Pro has also recently developed another great editing panel called Essential Graphics.
This is an all in one window that allows you to browse text and graphic animations that you can easily preview and drag and drop into your timeline.
You can also make simple adjustments to timing, size, font, and color, depending on the design of the preset.
These are called MOGRT files (short for Motion Graphic Template) and are often downloaded from sites like Envato Elements (my absolute favorite resource) where other motion graphic artists have done the hard work of designing these animations for you.
All you have to do is download them, install into Premiere Pro, and drag and drop into your project. This is an excellent feature for YouTube creators and other projects where you don’t want to necessarily design all of these animations yourself.
7 | Unlimited Resources and Support
Not only is Premiere Pro easy to navigate and simple to learn, because it’s become the industry standard for video editors, you will be able to find an answer or tutorial to just about any question you ever have.
Not to mention entire blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to sharing priceless knowledge about how to use Premiere. (sorry shameless plug to my most popular Premiere Pro tutorial if you want it)
8 | New Features
Here are a few exciting new features that Premiere Pro has recently added to their program, in case you’re curious.
Scene Edit Detection
A brand new feature in this year’s Premiere Pro 2020 automatically analyzes your footage, detects changes in scenes, and adds cuts at the appropriate places.
This is a real game changer and can speed up the workflow process for editors dramatically.
Ready to give it a shot? Try Premiere Pro for a month free.
Shortcomings of Premiere Pro
Now that we’ve seen exactly what Premiere is good at, let’s look at some areas where Premiere Pro is simply not the best tool for the job.
These also happen to be key areas where After Effects shines. If these are tools and functions that you know you will need as an editor, then After Effects may be your program of choice.
Advanced Text Animation
Although the development of the Essential Graphics panel has made text and graphic animation much more accessible for the Premiere Pro user, it is not without limitations.
Firstly, the functionality of text movement, speed velocity, and other fine-tuning adjustments are clunky and limited within Premiere Pro.
For more advanced text animation and design, After Effects is absolutely the winner here.
Similar to advanced text animation, you definitely don’t have much control at all over graphic animation within Premiere Pro.
Beyond simply adjusting basic controls from a MOGRT file or creating simple animations with shapes, Premiere Pro is much more limited and you’ll need to use After Effects.
Visual Effects and Design
Beyond very basic text animation and motion graphics, if you’re looking to create even more dynamic visual effects, you will need to have access to After Effects.
This includes animations like particles, 3d effects, and endless other animation styles.
Adobe After Effects: An Overview
In the same way that Premiere Pro is the powerhouse of video editing, After Effects is the absolute powerhouse of motion graphics and video animation.
Who Is After Effects Best Suited For?
This program blows me away with how powerful and easy it is to create such dynamic and incredible animations for the everyday editor.
You truly don’t have to have years of animation expertise under your belt to use this program.
Because of it’s low price of entry and popularity, there are literally thousands of tutorials to get you started on creating your own unique animations from start.
Here’s a bit of detail into exactly what After Effects is great at.
Main Functions of After Effects
Create cinematic movie titles, intros, and transitions. Remove an object from a clip. Start a fire or make it rain. Animate a logo or character. Even navigate and design in a 3D space. The ideas are truly limitless.
1 | Advanced Text Animation
Unlike it Premiere Pro, the options are endless for text animation in Premiere Pro. If the idea is in your head, you can make it come to life in After Effects.
You have full control over every single aspect of animating text. Create lower thirds with graphics and color, animate them onto the screen, and capture your audience’s attention like never before.
2 | Keyframes and Expressions
The beauty and ease of use with After Effects comes in how simple and easy it is to create layers with your animations and control the many keyframes that allow you to create seamless animations.
Not only that but the ability to control velocity and the exact curves of each motion gives you the most smooth animations possible.
You can time the velocity of how quickly an animation occurs throughout each movement. The object enters the frame slowly, speeds up, and then ends the motion slowly and smoothly.
This is all done so much easier in After Effects vs Premiere Pro.
3 | Rotoscoping and Character Animation
Let’s say you want to blur out a person’s face, but that person is actively moving in your video. How do you isolate the person’s face to place a blur over it when they are moving to a new location in each frame?
This is virtually impossible to do in Premiere Pro. But in After Effects? You guessed it, definitely possible.
Not only that, but After Effects has developed new AI technology to make this process much less tedious than it used to be. Used to be you had to go frame by frame and move your effect for rotoscoping.
Those days are long gone.
After Effects Roto Brush 2 uses Adobe Sensei to make rotoscoping easy, intuitive, and accurate. It’s the automatic way to select and track objects and isolate them frame by frame with ease.
4 | Particle Effects and 3D Animation
For more advanced animations like particles, explosions, and 3D animation, After Effects is the definite way to go.
I won’t pretend to know much about the ins and outs of how to achieve these effects, but I do know that it can be done in After Effects. There are many tutorials out there to learn all about how to create these dynamic effects if you’re interested.
5 | New Features
Easy Removal of Objects from Video Clips
With Content-Aware Fill, remove unwanted items up to 25% faster with a third of the memory — no need to mask or cut frame by frame.
A New Virtual 3D Design Space
Take 3D projects further with new tools to help you navigate and design in 3D space. Add multiple cameras to a scene and orbit, pan, and dolly based on various viewpoints.
One Tool for Three Dimensions
The new 3D Transform Gizmo allows you to scale, position, and rotate 3D layers, all with one tool. With visual guides and multiple modes, this multifunctional gizmo offers more power when navigating 3D space.
MOGRT Files and Templates in After Effects
You don’t have to be an advanced animator to use After Effects.
Just like with Premiere Pro, you can find thousands of pre-made animations and templates made specifically for After Effects projects to download.
Envato Elements is my favorite resource to find After Effects templates and last I checked they have over 20,000 different ones to choose from.
I use these all the time for logo animations, promo videos, openers, lower thirds, transitions, and text animation.
Ready to give it a shot? Try After Effects for a month completely free.
Shortcomings of After Effects
As amazing as After Effects is with animation and creating powerful effects, it’s not the best program for editing video clips.
If you are creating a video from start to finish with footage and audio files, it’s best to start with Premiere Pro. Get your base draft edited and then bring it into After Effects to add more style.
The interface of After Effects is great, but it simply isn’t designed for video clips. It’s designed for organizing graphic layers and manipulating keyframes and motion.
After Effects is not a one-stop shop for video edits.
It is, however, a one stop shop for short animations or for animations that are built to integrate with a video project inside Premiere Pro.
Now that we’ve explored the pros and cons of each of these programs, let’s talk about how much they cost.
Price Difference Between After Affects & Premiere Pro
When it comes to comparing price, the truth is these programs cost the exact same amount.
If you end up purchasing just one, the price is anywhere from $10-20 per month. You can receive a big discount if you are a student.
There are also great bundles if you decide to purchase access to more than one program per month.
I highly recommend this option and here’s why.
Why You Should Use Both
Dynamic Linking and Ease of Use
Because After Effects and Premiere Pro are both designed and developed by Adobe, they play very well together.
Adobe has created a seamless integration between the two programs, called dynamic linking, that makes it effortless to transition between them while editing a single project.
I always begin by creating my base edit in Premiere Pro.
Once my timeline is in place with all the major video and audio edits, I just into After Effects to add titles and other necessary graphics.
It’s simple and easy to go back and forth adding these elements into my original Premiere Pro file, reviewing how they look, heading back into After Effects to tweak and make adjustments, back into Premiere Pro for a final review and finally I’m ready to export my polished video.
Pricing As a Bundle
Another argument for owning both programs is the affordability to do so. Traditionally owning two programs like these would run you at least $300 per program.
Instead, Adobe has several pricing options available depending on how many programs you’d like to include.
I highly recommend making the jump from one program to multiple, simply so you have access to all the amazing programs Adobe has to offer.
Make It Pay For Itself
As a graphic artist of any kind (filmmaker, photographer, designer, etc.), you literally have the world at your fingertips.
Take some time to learn multiple programs. They will end up being wise investments that can pay for themselves.
Literally, I can create very simple graphic animations within Photoshop, Illustrator, and After Effects and sell them as stock photos or stock video. It’s amazing. You learn new skills and they end up paying for themselves. Literally.
I’ve written endlessly and posted monthly videos of my earnings from selling stock video and animations. I’m making hundreds of dollars each month passively from these creations. Those more than pay for my Adobe monthly subscription.
Or check out my e-book for a comprehensive introduction to selling your own stock for monthly income.
There’s no reason you can’t do the same.
Wishing you all the best on this amazing journey. Leave your questions for me in the comment section below!
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