I use Sony Vegas for video production but would like to be able to create more visual effects.
Are there any cheaper alternatives for Adobe's After Effects? Or is there an extension for Vegas?
Blender does have compositing capability, and can be used to do some of the stuff that AE does. It's free, but you have to learn how to use it, so how highly you value your time counts in the final equation.
If you want to see Blender in action as a compositor you can see the "Tears of Steel" short film made with Blender last year.
After Effects is an extremely powerful tool, not just because of the out of box abilities but also its integration with 3rd party plugins...In some degrees I could say it can compete with Nuke which is like 4k, and even more for Nuke X
In terms of Pro-sumer/ boarder-line Professional Software these two are in a league of their own, being both MAC and PC compatible also is a huge advantage for them over, well there really isn't any competition.
After Effects has a 30-day free trial and Nuke has a 15-day free trial, also if you are a student you can get AE for just a couple hundred on its own, and will work great with Vegas, just need to export and import VFX clips. Same would be for Nuke, however obviously much more expensive and probably not in your budget so...
To simply answer your question, no...Use the 30-day free trial, and if you like it, find someone who is a student (if your not) and get it via the student discount.
NOT really alternatives but you can look into these tools too..
As i said, these are not Proper alternatives..
But many simple and at par professional level performance can be expected from these.
The first one, Pinnacle Studio HD, delivers a failrly good quality output and also supports extra features like Chroma Keying, Basic Color Grading and also has some additional Pligins available like the RED GIANT EFFECTS. I am not sure whether its capable of giving you what you need, but have a look . Here is the link to Pinnacle
Corel® VideoStudio® Pro X5 is an all-in-one video editor that brings together creative editing, advanced effects, screen recording, interactive web video and total disc authoring. Ultra-fast and packed with intuitive tools, it lets you create everything from family movies and slideshows, to fun stop motion animations, and screen recordings of presentations, tutorials and more. Get creative with advanced compositing and stellar creative effects. Tap into the full power of your multi-core processor with unprecedented speed. And share everywhere with native HTML5 video support, and enhanced DVD and Blu-ray™ authoring as said in the official site.
Here is the Link to the Product Have a look.
The third and slighlty interesting item is the Nova Cut Pro. (A free movement, still under development) . Warning: i am not sure about its capabilities and disabilities. But i have read from their blog that , it provides powerful solutions for distributed editing requirements. You can(should) take a look and go through their blogs before trying it.
Good thing is it is (or was) free.. Have a look here , here and here