2018: What are the alternatives to After Effects for Interaction Design?

over 2 years ago from , Product Designer

I've gotten really familiar with After Effects for creating animations and UI interactions. Like all of Adobe's software, it's really powerful and hard to replace. However, like all of Adobe's software, I would really like to find a viable replacement for it. Mostly because I don't feel like I am making the most of my $80/mo. subscription.

Looking for other alternatives, I find this shortlist: - Motion (Apple) - Framer - Origami (Facebook) - Form (Google)

I'm seeing two types of applications: 1. 3D Compositing software designed for making movies, but can also do 2D vector graphics 2. UI Prototyping tool designed to generate clickable prototypes but not intended for general animation

I'm not really seeing any tools that give you the same control over an object's properties with keyframe easing functions. The kind of control you would need for creating splash screen animations doesn't seem to exist outside of Adobe's ecosystem.

Is there really no other software that takes the same approach to animation as After Effects does?


  • Robert PaigeRobert Paige, over 2 years ago


    8 points
  • Luca Candela, over 2 years ago

    The short answer is "it doesn't exist". All the proposed solutions are little more than toys compared to AE.

    8 points
    • Roberto Brambila, over 2 years ago

      As someone who's worked on commercials, music videos, documentaries and film titles using AE and NOW exploring the Interaction Design medium in real-time... I agree with the parent's sentiment. HOWEVER, I will say that the fundamentals of animation carry over across software packages. Albeit cumbersome, if you're a sound animator, as long as you can set keys on a timeline— your skillset should transfer over. An intuitive understanding of "the principles" and timing is all you need. Over the last 2-3 years, I've had a fun time transferring my skillset across JS libraries like GSAP as well as recreating my own basic implementations of ease functions in Python for real-time applications like TouchDesigner.

      2 points
    • John Sherwin, over 2 years ago

      AE is not a good tool for interaction design. Its output often feels nothing like what an iOS or Android app would feel like. Plus, you cant actually hand prototype on a device to a user for them to play with it, you just play a video. Personally I'd go with Framer, or if you don't code then Principle. Both far superior tools for interaction design and prototyping.

      1 point
      • Jrtorrents Dorman , over 2 years ago

        depends on who making the “protype video”, most designers get carried away with the easy-of-use of AE and go gangbusters without thinking of the inherent limitations of the ios and android. In theory whatever you create in Principal/Framer/Flinto etc, you should be about to create in Ae with ease (without being able to play with it ofc.).

        Then again there are tools like Lottie which allows AE animations to be exported to web/android abd ios; something which most protoyping tools can’t.

        If somone is able to add an interation component to Ae in a way that allows live prototypes, they’ll have a winner on their hands. That will be a very difficult task thou.

        0 points
  • Jonathan PattersonJonathan Patterson, over 2 years ago

    I was thinking about the same thing. I've been collecting a list of different prototyping software. Here are some (that weren't already mentioned) that might be worth the look:



    -Kite Compositor


    And, if you want, here's the site I made just to keep track of all the various software coming out...

    Yo, Proto

    5 points
  • Michal Svoboda, over 2 years ago

    https://kiteapp.co never used it by myself

    3 points
  • Andy MerskinAndy Merskin, over 2 years ago

    Tumult Hype is a great alternative, with the added benefit of exporting straight to HTML if you wanted to output a clickable / interactive demo, in addition to video or GIF.

    3 points
    • Elliott ReganElliott Regan, over 2 years ago

      That's a familiar looking UI. Checking it out now.

      1 point
    • JE LS, over 2 years ago

      I agree… AE is an animation/video monster, and is really killer at that —but also the power comes at a costs: UI lacks simplicity for the newbies, and is overkill for simple web animation/interactivity

      Hype is wonderful, has a learning curve really affordable, and creates lots of animation and small interactivity in HTML5 format.

      They're nonexclusive to each other, I would recommend learning both, but you can start with Hype first if you're new to the animation/video field.

      0 points
  • Jrtorrents Dorman , over 2 years ago

    short answer: none!

    Long answer : There ae a few decent tools around, none of them have reached sufficient maturity yet.

    2 points
  • Or Arbel, over 2 years ago

    Timeline for Sketch

    https://timeline.animaapp.com (presale)

    2 points
  • Patryk ZabielskiPatryk Zabielski, over 2 years ago

    Try Principle http://principleformac.com/

    2 points
    • Stefan Lechleitner, over 2 years ago

      IMO the best tool for delightful prototypes and interactions. But for production I think AE + LOTTIE (and bodymovin) are a the real thing.

      1 point
  • Daniel Klopper, over 2 years ago

    Principle for Mac is definitely a favorite.

    1 point
  • Josh McKenzieJosh McKenzie, over 2 years ago

    Moho Pro 12 is a 2D vector animation tool for Windows and Mac which might be a suitable alternative for animating UI interactions. It's not a particularly easy tool to learn though (in my view), and unfortunately there are not that many tutorials available online.

    It is powerful though and it's not subscription based. You can move objects along a path as well as automatically interpolate between different keyframes.

    It's currently on sale at $199 (it's regularly discounted and seems to be permanently at that price on Amazon). I suggest downloading the trial version and giving it a spin.


    0 points
  • Josiah DJosiah D, over 2 years ago

    Bit of an odd option, but I know some people who are wizards with Keynote.

    If you've not seen it, this is a video of Google's Material introduction side-by-side with a total recreation done in Keynote: https://vimeo.com/100377108

    0 points
    • Jim Janek, over 2 years ago

      I agree. I've used Keynote for UI animations and they're just as good as anything I build in After Effects for this purpose. I'd highly recommend it, and I'm surprised it's not used more widely. You can export videos in multiple formats, including 4k at ProRes 422 or 4444 if you desire.

      1 point
  • John PJohn P, over 2 years ago

    Is there really no other software that takes the same approach to animation as After Effects does?

    Absolutely nothing comes close to the flexibility of After Effects, it's absolutely best in class for what it does. Motion is dead in the water which was the only real competition (I know Nuke exists but that's more compositing).

    Really it depends what you want to do with AE, I mean it can just slide boxes about like Principle, Framer etc but AE also has decent 3D support and best in class non-destructive filters meaning it can be pushed way beyond just sliding rectangles.

    0 points
  • Kamile Mieliauskaite, over 2 years ago

    Framer + principle are my go to. I love after effects although I think for interaction design framer + principle are easier to use.

    0 points
  • Dan CoatesDan Coates, over 2 years ago

    You could have a look at Fusion: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/au/products/fusion/ it is free and very powerful but is node based rather than linear like AE so might be a bit of a learning curve.

    0 points
  • Dean HaydenDean Hayden, over 2 years ago

    I haven’t looked at Framer but Motion has its limitations and isn’t as comprehensive as After Effects.

    Thinking a little different, have you tried Blender? I’ve dabbled a little and much like After Effects you can animate pretty much every single parameter of an object. I know it’s 3D but if used to working in this space it might be a neat solution.

    0 points
    • Elliott Regan, over 2 years ago

      I've looked at Blender, but it looks like it is really geared for 3D modeling. I assumed it wouldn't work for my needs, but I do see come neat tutorials on YouTube right now. I'll add it to my shortlist. Thanks!

      Are there any add-ons or specific renderer that you use?

      1 point
      • Dean HaydenDean Hayden, over 2 years ago

        Honestly no, just vanilla Blender. My experience has been light but could see the potential.

        0 points
        • Chris Gallello, over 2 years ago

          Can you share how you use Blender for interaction design? I've used it for 3D modeling but never thought about using it to prototype an app or anything! Sounds intriguing...

          0 points
          • Dean HaydenDean Hayden, over 2 years ago

            I haven’t but in principle you could. If a scene is rigged correctly and along with the camera set up.

            I’m guessing each element would be a plane with an exported asset from Sketch as the texture.

            The pain point would be extracting elements of a design and importing them into Blender but that’s a similar work flow to AE.

            This is all academic as I haven’t done this myself. As I said, it could be an interesting solution if you’re used to this type of environment.

            Inspiration came from South Park. It was animated with 3D Studio Max; retained the paper cut look and feel but saved the manual overhead.

            1 point