Video editing, compositing, and VFX software

So how do I edit my videos, you may ask? And how will I animate 3d content for them - and how will I combine [composite] all those layers of visual effects elements?


Well, for video editing, Movie Studio Platinum is a great cheap option.

Same with Premiere Elements. I think Premiere Elements is a bit more stable than MSP too.

More costly but really solid options include Final Cut Express/Pro [though it seems like it may be discontinued at this point], Avid, Sony Vegas Pro, and Adobe Premiere CS6/CC. You can also use HitFilm Pro as a video editor, not just a compositing system.


This is where you layer things together, like Photoshop for video.

HitFilm 4 Express or the paid Pro equivalent, is a great, user-friendly toolset. I LOVE HitFilm as an AE alternative.

Fusion 8 - really professional grade and has a free version with the superb Primatte chroma keyer built in.

After Effects CC - The gold standard in compositing. AE has been around forever, has been updated over and over, and now it is a rental product for $30/month.


Blender 3D is freeware, which is nice, and it's a really solid option given the price.

There are also some in the $1k range like Lightwave, Modo, and Cinema 4D.

And then there's the really expensive stuff that is nonetheless awesome, mainly Autodesk's 3DS Max and Maya.

Other toolsets exist like Storm [or more expensive options - Houdini, Realflow, etc], that serve specific niches. Storm is a $102 tool for physics sims. There are also tons of Blender plugins in places like Blender Market that can extend Blender into a solidly professional range in many areas. And there are many 3d-paint tools for texturing specifically, like 3D coat, ArmorPaint, Nomad Sculpt [mobile] and Substance Painter.


I write my scripts with Slugline on iPad or Trelby on Windows, I do image editing with Photoshop plus a broad mix of other utilities and plugins [from Topaz Labs, Akvis, etc], video editing with Vegas Pro, compositing with Hitfilm Pro, 3d animation with either Lightwave or Blender or some mix of the two, depending on what exactly I am trying to do. I used Lightwave for years but it now is looking unlikely to see further updates and is not really recommended. I'd encourage new-to-3d people to jump into Blender directly and support that. Plus a few other plugins and a couple 3d utilities including ArmorPaint, NomadSculpt and Storm. I also do some gamedev stuff, usually with Scirra's Construct 3 for 2d or Unity plus Playmaker and a few other addons, for realtime 3d. That sums up all the major parts of my software pipeline. 

If you'd like to see my use of these tools in video, check out

And games? Vivid Minigolf, Miniature Multiverse, and Astounding Worlds are good examples to start with. Others also exist across


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