7 Best Software for VFX in 2024 [Visual Effects for Film]

best software for VFX

Key Takeaways:

Try out Adobe After Effects if you need an overall solution for video editing and VFX that won’t break the bank (~35/month or less if you pay yearly).

Filmora is great for beginners and Autodesk Maya is for advanced VFX artists and animators only!

Visual effects have seen a rise in popularity over the past decades, and they’ve given film directors more room for creativity to showcase their ideas in amazing ways!

Those of you who are about 30+ or older (like me!) will remember that visual effects were previously mainly reserved for blockbuster movies or other high-budget hits.

But nowadays, even the effects in those movies seem outdated! And as the need for ultra-realistic visual effects increased, VFX tools have become more powerful.

When my production company was editing our feature film, Spin The Wheel, we needed to find the best software for the visual effects that we wanted to add (on a budget – we are indie filmmakers!). We looked into all of the options on this list.

But out of all the software options available today, what is the best software for VFX in 2024? That’s what we’ll discuss in this post, so let’s dig in!

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.

What is the Best Software for VFX?

I went through some of the most popular VFX software and came up with this list. Keep reading for more details about each product, including the top features and pricing plans!

1. Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects


Adobe is one of the most popular software companies, and its After Effects program is a beast of a VFX editor that puts little to no restrictions on what you can do.

After Effects was released way back in 1993 and was acquired by Adobe shortly after in 1994. Since that time, it’s been nearly three decades of consistent updates and upgrades to improve its functionality and increase the upper cap on what you can achieve.

And although Adobe After Effects is quite challenging to master, it’s one of the most powerful tools in the VFX software industry.

Top Features

  • Layer-based animation with advanced compositing capabilities.
  • Access to hundreds of plugins and scripts for a customized effect.
  • 3D camera tracking and 3D motion graphics.
  • Animation presets, templates, masks, and effects.
  • Advanced rotoscoping tools to isolate moving objects from your footage.


Adobe After Effects Pricing

Adobe After Effects is available as a standalone program from the Adobe website at $34.49 when billed monthly. Alternatively, you can choose the annual plan to cut costs to $22.99 (when billed monthly), or $263.88 (when billed annually).

You can try out After Effects for free for seven days, thanks to the handy trial that Adobe offers.

My Experience Using Adobe After Effects

Adobe After Effects Interface

I’ve been part of many projects that have used After Effects, for everything from muzzle flashes to explosions to laser beams and UFOs.

For those just starting out with it, YouTube tutorials are a great way to get familiar with the program and where all the tools are, since it can be quite overwhelming at first.

For this example I added a video of a cat jumping and used the motion tracking tool to track the cat’s eye. It was pretty easy and straightforward to find.

It did a great job tracking until the cat jumped out of frame.

I’m no professional VFX artist, but I’ve seen some pretty cool things accomplished with Adobe After Effects!

Adobe After Effects Pros

  • Virtually limitless in terms of what it allows you to do.
  • Relatively affordable compared to other huge VFX editors.
  • Supports visual effects in virtual reality.
  • Motion graphics templates are available.
  • You can add or delete moving objects in your film easily!

Adobe After Effects Cons

  • Requires a powerful computer.
  • Subscription model only, not a one-time fee.
  • Can be overwhelming to non-advanced visual effects artists.

2. Wondershare Filmora

Wondershare Filmora


Although Wondershare Filmora may not be as much of a powerhouse as other VFX software, it’s a reliable editor with an intuitive interface that allows you to create stunning visual effects for a cheap price.

Currently, Filmora is an excellent video editing software with VFX capabilities suitable for beginner to mid-level VFX artists. But as Wondershare keeps updating the app, we expect more advanced features to keep rolling out.

Filmora also contains some AI-backed video editing tools, such as auto normalization, highlighting, and the AI Portrait, that can remove backgrounds in video, even without a green screen.

Top Benefits

  • Adjustable speed controls for slow motion and time-lapse effects.
  • Creative animations, titles, transitions, and overlays.
  • Support for 4K video editing.
  • Rich library of royalty-free video clips, music, and sound effects.


Wondershare Filmora Pricing

Wondershare Filmora is available for $49.99 per year, or $29.99 per quarter. You could also choose the perpetual plan, which is $79.99 flat for lifetime use (but, sadly you won’t get any updates to the software with that plan).

If you need Filmora for your team, you can buy it for up to 5 users for $701.40 per year. And if you need to accommodate an even larger group, you can contact the sales team for a custom quote.

Personally, I’d go for the annual fee, as it’s very affordable and you’ll always have access to the latest version of the program.

My Experience Using Filmora

Wondershare Filmora Interface

Even though Filmora doesn’t have as many VFX capabilities as some software programs, it definitely has a lot to get you started.

I was really impressed by their AI tools that cut out the background from my video of a cat, and then tracked that mask almost perfectly throughout the video.

I also tried the motion tracking feature which stayed on the cat’s eye the whole time it was visible on screen.

If you want to start from a pre-made template for your VFX, Filmora has plenty of those to choose from!

Filmora Wondershare Pros

  • A fast and efficient program that doesn’t require the most powerful PC.
  • Intuitive interface that doesn’t overwhelm VFX artists.
  • Very affordable annual plan.

Filmora Wondershare Cons

  • Doesn’t have as many features as its competitors.
  • No virtual reality support.

3. AutoDesk Maya

Autodesk Maya


Another powerful and extensive VFX software is AutoDesk Maya. And while you can use it to create magic out of raw footage, animation is where AutoDesk Maya shines the most. This doesn’t come as a surprise to people who’ve been in the industry for a while, as AutoDesk carries a commendable name, thanks to Maya and other popular tools like 3ds Max.

Some of the works on AutoDesk Maya’s portfolio include “Ice Age,” “Spider-Man,” and “Attack of the Clones.”

Top Benefits

  • High-quality 3D modeling capabilities.
  • Comprehensive AI animation tools.
  • Powerful shader library and node editor.
  • Photorealistic rendering capabilities.
  • Support for powerful plug-ins and extensions.
  • Integration with AutoDesk MotionBuilder.


AutoDesk Maya Pricing

AutoDesk Maya is definitely on the pricey side, as its available for purchase at $235 per month. But you can save 34% if you choose annual billing for $1,875 or a 3-year billing cycle at $5,625.

AutoDesk Maya Token Pricing

AutoDesk also offers an interesting system that allows you to use Maya more flexibly by buying tokens, with each day of use costing 6 tokens. Tokens last for one year, and you can buy them at these prices:

  • Minimum: $300 for 100 tokens; 16 days of use per year
  • Popular: $1,500 for 500 tokens; 83 of use per year
  • Custom quote if you need more

I’d absolutely recommend going with their token system, particularly if you are just adding video effects to one or two movies or videos.

My Experience Using AutoDesk Maya

AutoDesk Maya Interface

Holy moly!! I was definitely overwhelmed after opening Maya and seeing the interface – sooo many buttons!

They did have an interactive starter video for beginners, which I did appreciate.

After playing around with some of the tools, it looks like Maya is definitely for advanced VFX artists and animators. But I guess that makes sense if you’re willing to pay for the high price.

If you’re a professional making money from your advanced skills, Maya will definitely help you succeed!

AutoDesk Maya Pros

  • One of the best VFX software to produce animated films.
  • Has an excellent approach to 3D modeling, motion graphics, UV mapping, and more.
  • Plenty of video editing tools.

AutoDesk Maya Cons

  • Steep learning curve.
  • It’s on the pricier side.

4. Houdini



SideFX founded Houdini in 1996, and it immediately stood out to us as one of the not-so-many VFX powerhouses that support Linux operating systems, which might be all you need for your team.

Many big hitters relied on Houdini and weren’t disappointed. Even Walt Disney Animation Studios has used it for some of its films, such as the 2016 comedy animation “Zootopia.”

Top Benefits

  • Powerful node-based procedural workflow. (I love node-based!)
  • Support for a wide range of 3D formats and rendering capabilities.
  • Compatible with major compositing applications.
  • Set-based workflows and timeline tools for animation purposes.
  • Support for Python scripting and Houdini Engine plugins.


Houdini Pricing

Houdini has a brilliant pricing model to accommodate everybody’s needs, depending on their situation. The plans are broken down into:

  • Apprentice: Free version for students, amateurs, and learners to create non-commercial projects
  • Indie: $269 per year or $399 per two years. Available for creators with annual revenue under $100,000
  • Artists: $1,995 for the perpetual plan, limited to five licenses per studio
  • Studios: $355 per month, $1,995 per year, and $2,995 flat-rate
  • Education: $75 per year for accredited schools and students

My Experience Using Houdini

Houdini Interface

Houdini is another software that looks very overwhelming if you don’t know how to use it.

Luckily, Houdini’s launcher provides a whole page of tutorials that takes you step-by-step on how to create some pretty awesome VFX – following along with someone else is the best way to learn!

I’ve worked with a few VFX artists over the years, and many of them used Houdini for their visual effects, so I’d say it’s a pretty common software, if not one of the more mainstream industry standards.

Houdini gets a lot of recognition and I can see why! Seems like the possibilities are endless.

Houdini Pros

  • Very comprehensive VFX software designed for the utmost capability.
  • Procedural node-based workflow.
  • Plenty of learning tools are available.

Houdini Cons

  • Can be pricey for an indie artist.
  • There is a steep learning curve as the interface can be confusing.

5. HitFilm



HitFilm offers a reasonably powerful free plan that can help you get your needs done as an amateur. And professional artists aren’t left out, thanks to the two other paid plans that include more features with fewer limitations. But all features considered, the Pro plan is the only one that offers extensive VFX features.

When you open the HitFilm interface, you’ll find a “Learn” button on the top that helps you learn video editing skills, and it’s something every beginner will appreciate when picking up this program.

Top Benefits

  • Non-linear video editing and compositing.
  • Advanced masking and layering tools.
  • 3D particle simulator.
  • Powerful keying and rotoscoping capabilities.
  • Support for numerous film formats.


hitfilm pricing

You can acquire HitFilm through any of these three plans, although the Pro plan will be what you need for VFX:

  • Free plan for beginners and amateurs
  • Creator: $12.99 per month (monthly billing) or $7.99 per month (annual billing)
  • Pro: $19.99 per month (monthly billing) or $12.99 per month (annual billing)

My Experience Using HitFilm

HitFilm Interface

Unfortunately, there is no free trial version of HitFilm Pro, which has all the VFX tools – there is only access to the regular free version with limited tools.

I will say that HitFilm has a nice intuitive interface and even started the project with a pre-built timeline and a mini follow-along course. That was a nice touch!

So I can’t speak on any of their VFX tools, but after digging around on their website, it looks like they pride themselves on their excellent motion tracking and background keying abilities.

Luckily, there prices are pretty affordable if you want to pay $19.99 for one month access to HitFilm Pro to see if it’s the right software for you!

HitFilm Pros

  • Very affordable.
  • Decent selection of digital tools, including keying and motion tracking.
  • Supports up to 8K resolution.

HitFilm Cons

  • Doesn’t offer much for high-level VFX artists.
  • Relatively high system requirements for a tool of its caliber.

6. Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D


Despite the name, Cinema 4D is one of the most renowned programs for VFX and 3D modeling, and its contributions to film over the years are undeniable.

Cinema 4D is a big player in a field where many avid learners drop out due to sheer difficulty, but it actually does something about it through its impressive interface that makes animation relatively straightforward.

As for creating 3D graphics, there’s very little that you can’t do with Cinema 4D, as each feature is so well-crafted to ensure the best result.

Top Benefits

  • Powerful camera tracking
  • Advanced texturing tools
  • Extensive 3rd party plugin library
  • Comprehensive animation toolset


cinema 4d pricing

When you buy Cinema 4D, you have to purchase it in a bundle with Redshift, the world’s fastest GPU rederer. You can buy this package for $116 per month, or $983 per year, billed monthly at $81.91.

You can also buy the Maxon One bundle, which gets you all their products (including Cinema 4D) for $149 per month or $1,199 per year (which evens out to about $100 per month). This big bundle also includes Red Giant, which has some pretty cool VFX too!

My Experience Using Cinema 4D

cinema 4d interface

Cinema 4D is another pro interface! Lots and lots of buttons and tools to use at your disposal.

It’s was a little too complex for my novice VFX skills, but luckily they provided plenty of tutorials upon installing the application.

From what I can tell, Cinema 4D is truly built for the VFX professionals out there.

Cinema 4D Pros

  • Excellent for all your 3D modeling needs.
  • Fast while running.
  • The sleek interface doesn’t confuse the user and lets you organize your work.
  • Can be integrated with Adobe After Effects.

Cinema 4D Cons

  • Can be pricey for indie creators.
  • Sub-optimal modeling workflow.

7. Blender



We’ll finish off our list with one of the best VFX software for learning the ropes with zero risk: the free and open-source Blender!

Blender has built a positive reputation for itself over the years as an all-encompassing VFX tool that’s accessible to anyone.

And although you might not find yourself working in studios with Blender, it’s still worth a shot if you’re looking for a way to fuel your passion for VFX.

Top Benefits

  • Powerful 3D modeling.
  • Animation capabilities.
  • Node-based shaders.
  • Comprehensive rigging system.
  • Has a variety of sculpting tools.


blender free download

Blender is a completely FREE VFX software. All the features are available in the free app, and you don’t need a license to sell the work you do on Blender.

My Experience Using Blender

Blender Interface

After playing around on Blender, I felt like the interface was pretty straight forward and would be easy enough to learn.

You can learn Blender by checking out a ton of free tutorials on their official YouTube channel.

For a free software, it looks like they really have it all – motion tracking, 3D animation, etc.

It seems like the perfect place to dive deeper into your VFX skills to see if it’s something you could see yourself doing as a career!

Blender Pros

  • The best free VFX software — no license required to commercialize your work.
  • Support for Linux OS.
  • A robust collection of features.
  • Tons of learning materials are available.

Blender Cons

  • The interface can be confusing and hard to learn.
  • Not the best to edit videos.

What is Visual Effects Software?

The short answer is that visual effects software is like the Photoshop of video.

In more specific terms, visual effects (VFX) refers to the fancy visuals you see in movies that weren’t actually present in the filming studio because they’re impractical or outright impossible to capture, whether it’s due to cost, danger to the actors, fantasy elements like magic, or otherwise.

Visual effects can be as obvious as explosions, gunshot wounds, or even aliens, or they can be subtle, such as animals (like the lion in Wolf of Wall Street) or even water.

And if you thought it was all about films, you’d be wrong. VFX can also be used plentifully in computer games to create a more immersive experience for the player.

software for VFX

Final Thoughts

That’s everything for our round-up of the best video effects software! In my opinion, Adobe After Effects gets highest billing thanks to its wide scope of features that cover virtually everything you might ever want to do as a VFX artist.

For less advanced visual effects artists, you should check out Wondershare Filmora and HitFilm, the latter of which even includes a plan for smaller content creators.

And if you want completely free and open-source software, I can’t recommend Blender enough!

Best Software for VFX film visual effects

Common Questions (FAQs)

Which is the best VFX software?

The best VFX software comes down to your needs. Adobe After Effects is usually high up on the list as it’s a very robust program, while other similar apps in terms of capability include Houdini FX and AutoDesk Maya. If you’re looking for something more beginner to medium-level, then you have the likes of Filmora and HitFilm.

Does VFX need coding?

Coding isn’t strictly required in the video editing and visual effects field, but it can give you a valuable edge. That’s not to say that you need to be an expert programmer, as most professional VFX video editors aren’t. Still, a basic knowledge of code and programming logic is almost standard in the industry.

What VFX or video editing software is free?

While there are many options on the market, the best free VFX software, in my opinion, is Blender. It’s also open-source and doesn’t require you to buy a license to sell your work.

Interested in filmmaking? Check out these other great articles!

The 45+ Best Gifts for Filmmakers: Reviewed

7+ Best AI Video Upscaling Software (Free & Paid)

The 7+ Best AI Video Generators [Text to Video]

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *