Whether you’re promoting the latest products or producing the next blockbuster film, motion graphics have become indispensable in the contemporary video landscape. Utilizing this mode of visual arts has become essential for those aiming to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.

That said, there are dozens of motion graphics software packages out there, and  It can be overwhelming to decide what the best motion graphics software is for you. 

On top of that, motion graphics alone aren’t the full package. Video editing, audio adjustments, color correction, and a plethora of other technical elements to enhance the final product are necessary.

Here are ten of the best software every content creator needs to be at the top of their game:

1. Adobe After Effects 

Pricing: $20.99 (Monthly Subscription)

Adobe After Effects is a powerful tool for motion graphics, visual effects, and animation. It seamlessly integrates with other Adobe products, such as Photoshop and Illustrator, offering precise keyframe animation. Additionally, it provides a vast library of effects and third-party plugins for advanced animation. Adobe After Effects is the industry standard for VFX and is used by massive marketing firms for branded content films, as well as by YouTubers creating shorts. For any professional, it’s a necessity to learn Adobe After Effects, especially if they expect to be working on a large professional creative team.

2. Adobe Premiere

Pricing: $22.99 (Monthly Subscription)

Adobe Premiere, the industry standard video editing software in Adobe’s creative suite, offers a comprehensive set of features and is a must know software for any aspiring graphic designer. 

Its user-friendly interface makes it a top choice for video editing and provides efficient timeline-based editing for precise control. The software also seamlessly integrates with other Adobe Creative Cloud applications, ensuring a smooth workflow across various design tools.

There’s more! Adobe Premier also excels in advanced color grading and correction and offers tools to enhance visual quality. The software also boasts robust audio editing capabilities, consolidating all necessary features within a single platform.

3. Adobe Photoshop

Pricing: $22.99 (Monthly Subscription)

When it comes to crafting stunning visuals, having access to Adobe Photoshop is like having access to the magician’s wand. It allows you to manipulate images, giving you the freedom to refine your designs. Add in layer-based editing and it becomes your most trusted ally when it comes to editing complex designs. Plus, photo manipulation becomes a seamless endeavor, allowing you to retouch, composite, and enhance details in your images.

With all that said, there’s a reason why the Adobe suite is the most popular creative suite for motion graphics and photo editing. Adobe Photoshop set the standard for every other photo editing software out there, so much so that Photoshop has become a verb in itself. 

4. Blender

Pricing: Free

In the realm of 3D modeling, animation, and rendering, Blender reigns supreme as the greatest free and open-source 3D software on the market. Its excellence stems not only from it being an open source, but also from the unwavering support of dedicated users who fund it through donations. This support has led to a fantastic community where like minded individuals flourish. 

And that’s not all. The software’s capabilities extend further into the realm of physics-based simulations for particles, cloth, fluid, and more. Additionally, it offers capabilities for VFX and compositing within the software.

As you can see, what truly sets Blender apart is the sense of community. This collaborative spirit, along with the ease of learning, makes it more than just a software – it’s an invitation to join a vibrant community.

5. Maya

Pricing: $1,875 yearly for organizations, $305 yearly for indie artists

In the dynamic world of 3D modeling and animation, Maya stands out as the priciest and most robust 3D animation software in the market. Offering powerful tools for character animation and rigging, along with advanced 3D modeling capabilities for various industries, every animator needs to learn it if they intend to work in the field.

Additionally, its high-quality rendering engine ensures realistic visuals while extensive scripting capabilities provide the flexibility for automation and customization.

6. 3DS Max

Pricing: $1,875 yearly for organizations, $305 yearly for indie artists

3DS Max shares many similarities to Maya, but it’s better suited for architectural purposes. 3DS Max is one of the best tools for people who work a lot with structures, such as interior designers and architects. 

Boasting powerful tools for modeling and rendering, advanced animation capabilities for characters and objects, 3DS Max caters to all your creative needs. Similar to Maya, its high-quality rendering engine  ensures realistic output and its extensive script support adds a layer of customization for tailored solutions.

If you’re into architectural design, checking out 3DS Max might be a good idea. 

7. Cinema 4D

Pricing: $1,455 yearly

Cinema 4D is usually seen as the third most popular 3D software, but it still has features that distinguishes it from its counterparts.   Known for its user-friendly interface,  intuitive layout, and incredible compatibility with After Effects and sophisticated plug-ins, Cinema 4D stands as a dynamic force in the realm of motion graphics and visual effects. 

The software supports a powerful animation system that allows users to create complex motion design and character animation. And similar to the other platforms we’ve talked about, Cinema 4D also comes with an advanced rendering engine that produces high-quality images and animation. It’s seamless integration with After Effects and other software allows for a more efficient and collaborative creative process.

Lastly, it also has an active community where users share tutorials, plug-ins, and resources. This fosters a supportive environment for learning and improving skills. 

8. Houdini

Pricing: $2,995 yearly (Studio) or $269 yearly (Indie)

Houdini isn’t as flashy as other 3D software. It takes a distinctive approach with its unique node-based procedural approach for VFX and animation. This feature allows individuals to create complex simulations, animations, and visual effects. It is widely used in films and video game industries for its ability to handle dynamic content creation and complex crowd simulation. Additionally, it uses python scripting to support customization and automation.  

WIth the softwares ability to handle complex simulations, it’s no wonder it’s a popular tool among visual effect artists and animators.

9. Da Vinci Resolve

Pricing: $295 (One time purchase)

Da Vinci Resolve is quickly making a name for itself in the professional video editing world, as it’s capable of many of the things that Adobe Premiere can do. We’re talking industry-leading color correction and grading tools to elevate the quality of visual content. And what truly sets it apart is it allows for editing, color correction, visual effects, and audio post-production all in one software.

The softwares collaborative features facilitate teamwork on complex projects, and its free version offers robust features, making it accessible even for non-corporate professionals.

 The biggest draw for Da Vinci Resolve is that it is a perpetual license for an incredibly cheap cost, especially when compared to Adobe’s subscription format. 

10. Motion

Pricing: $49 (One time purchase)

Motion is the video editing software exclusively available to Apple users, focusing on motion graphics and effects. It stands out for its sleek design and notable speed, providing pre-built templates for quick and easy designs, and seamless integration with Final Cut Pro and other Apple products. While After Effects may sometimes struggle with mundane tasks, Motion just breezes right through them. While it doesn’t have quite the number of features, it’s the best generalist video editing software for Apple users.

Now that you have a better understanding of the most common motion graphics tools on the market, your creativity awaits. Select the one that may work best for you and get to work!

We’d love to help you develop the perfect 3D animation project—and the story that shapes it. To learn more about Bottle Rocket Media’s motion graphics services connect with us to start your video project.