I am looking at Apple Motion and Adobe After Effects. How to they compare to one another? What are the pros and cons of each?

  • I'm looking to get into more serious video editing right now. What may be considered is how much of a pain Adobe software is on OS X or is it not that bad? My experiences with other Adobe tools and their horrible updaters etc. makes me not want to run any Adobe software on my computer if I can avoid it.
    – Alper
    Jan 29, 2014 at 17:56

4 Answers 4


After Effects is much more powerful than Motion when you get into advanced stuff like scripting your animations. After Effects is much more tolerant to large projects, and you can "precomp" different sequences (which is difficult to explain without you actually seeing it; basically allows you to put one timeline inside of another or reuse a specific portion of your project over and over, if that makes any sense). Apple Motion only allows one timeline per project, you cannot nest sequences inside one another without rendering out a QuickTime movie.

Apple Motion does however boast that it gives you "realtime previews" which plays your animation instantly, whereas After Effects typically requires you to render a RAM preview in order to see your animation in realtime. Of course this depends on the speed of your computer and the complexity of your project, so this is really only handy for simple projects.

When you want to start doing really custom effects like particle systems and other physics based or true 3D compositing, your options are very limited in Motion. After Effects has a whole range of plugins available online that will do almost anything you can think of. The Trapcode plugins are very well-built and very popular. There are very few plugins for Motion compared to After Effects.

I've used both for years, and Apple Motion seems to crash more often than After Effects, especially as your projects get more complex (just personal experience, maybe this has improved as of version 5).

I actually started animating for the first time in Apple Motion, and I agree that the learning curve isn't quite as steep as After Effects (although that was Motion 2.0 and 3.0, and now they're at version 5.0). Once I mastered Motion and dove into After Effects, I haven't looked back. I recently fired up Motion for the first time in a few years and I was struggling to get it to do what I wanted to do, my brain has just been trained to think like After Effects. Even though at first I was more productive in Motion than After Effects (because After Effects is more complex), I have completely reversed and now I feel like I'm a speed machine in After Effects and Motion is now useless to me.

The bottom line: if you're serious about getting a professional tool to do professional work, save up to get After Effects. If you're just a hobbyist that wants to dabble in animation, get Apple Motion (now that it's on the Mac App Store the price has come down considerably).

Hope this answers most of your questions! If you have any other specific ones, let me know and I'll be happy to talk.

  • Hey, thanks so much for that! I do get the idea of nesting sequences, and I find it odd that Apple didn't include that. I was considering getting Motion ($50), but now I am seriously considering After Effects. Thank you so much!
    – daviesgeek
    Sep 20, 2011 at 4:08
  • I find this too biased toward After Effects and likely not properly informed, since the latest version of Motion 5 is quite different. I find "Behaviors" in Motion5 extremely powerful & don't know of any "limitations" in creating particle systems. From talking to many people, I understand now that Motion5 is, for 80% of tasks, much easier and more pleasant to use, but After Effects is the more professional tool - especially with plugin/template support. I've heard at least one professional say that there's almost nothing he can't do in Motion and that for most tasks, it's more fun to use.
    – PandaWood
    Sep 2, 2012 at 4:45

I use both. Agree with all of the above for After Effects, I use it for any heavy lifting because Motion just drives you insane if you try anything too tricky with it.

The beauty of Motion is the way it is integrated into FCP. So I tend to use it for things like lower thirds or credits, because I can create "Master Templates" in Motion and import them into FCP and re-use them with different content. For example this allows you to use the same Motion composition for all your lower thirds, but change the text in FCP as you edit.

It's also good for simple things like Ken Burns' effects (panning and zooming on photographs), if you want them to look a bit more polished than FCP's rather sucky motion tools can give you. And being able to tweak things in Motion and see it instantly update in FCP is a lot better than exporting to AE > tweaking > rendering > relinking in FCP.


I have used After Effects, and from what I know, the main difference is that Adobe's has a much steeper learning curve but is also more powerful than Motion. AE is truly like a "Photoshop" for video, and its great for Special Effects. Motion, I've read, is the easiest for making compositions and great if you are working with FCP because it integrates pretty seamlessly.

Again, I haven't tried Motion, though I'd love to use it sometime. You can download the AE trial here.

Perhaps this link proves useful.


Hope it helps!

  • Thanks! I won't accept your answer right away; I'm going to wait for more answers.
    – daviesgeek
    Sep 10, 2011 at 18:13

While the other answers here cover the feature comparison better, I feel they aren't representing the cost difference adequately.

Motion has a one time cost of $50.

In order to get After Effects from Adobe, you need to sign up for Creative Cloud, which is basically a software leasing scheme being represented as though it were a service (which it most certainly is not). I signed up for Creative Cloud over a year ago to get After Effects and paid $60 a month. Despite 15 years of experience animating with programs like Flash, Modo, and Maya -- After Effects had a substantial learning curve to do the same things very differently, and was basically useless to me without having my full day to dedicate to learning and using it.

The problem with the $60 a month model is not only that the money is wasted if you don't use the software - it's that as far as you do use it, you are increasingly tied to continuing the payments. Once you cancel "Creative Cloud" you lose access to all of your work.

When I went to cancel my subscription, I was required to wait a long time to sit through a very frustrating conversation with a chat bot, that ultimately ended with my issue being forwarded to some committee that took over week to get back to me. They tried to tell me that I had to pay half the cost of the remaining year's subscription for "early cancellation" even though my first year was up and they automatically renewed my commitment without my permission. I was never able to get a hold of an actual human being once, and ultimately had to reverse the automatic charges through my bank in order to close my account with Adobe.

So we aren't talking $50 vs $1000. Supposing you needed to use the software for about 30 years, your talking more like $50 vs $20,000. And if in year 31 you need to cancel your subscription, all your lifetime of payments earned you was the right to lose a lifetime of work. Except perhaps fighting disease and reversing the aging process, I can't think of a feature that justifies such a compromise.

  • Certainly Motion wins on price, unless you factor in the extra cost of having to buy Apple hardware to run it on. Also your comparison over 30 years doesn't include the cost of upgrades, which can be significant. After all if price is the deciding factor then it's time to learn Blender.
    – stib
    Nov 30, 2014 at 23:43

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.