Hit Film Pro 4 or After Effects for Hobbiest ?

GeorgeMcFarlaneGeorgeMcFarlane Website User Posts: 5

Ok, I'm finding my way around Hit Film Pro slowly and gradually. I'm always amazed at what's possible and what I'm able to construct visually in my free time.

My question is, would I gain anything by adding Adobe After Effects to my software library, or to put it another way, will Hit Film do everything that After Effects can do and vice versa.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,208 Ambassador
    edited March 2016

    In short, no, AE has functions Hitfilm lacks. Hitfilm has functions AE lacks--some of which can be added with plug-ins that cost more than Hitfilm. 

    Now... AE is a subscription model, and if you stop paying your subscription AE stops working--meaning you lose access to your own work. Hitfilm is a purchase. You can choose to upgrade or not, but, either way the software will remain yours, and you won't be locked out of your projects for not paying FxHome next year. 

    If you had a serious goal of being a VFX artist, I would say get AE--that's a potential investment. As a hobbyist I would say stick with Hitfilm. 

  • GeorgeMcFarlaneGeorgeMcFarlane Website User Posts: 5

    Okey Doke, that's a bit clearer for me, thanks for the speedy and informative reply.

    I'm at the stage of basic edits to home movies with some low level FX on top and Hit Film has opened my eyes to what could be possible.

    I'm aware that AE would represent a significant investment and I guess I'm trying to figure out how much extra possibilities I could expect in return for that investment, if indeed any at all.

    I'll research a little deeper as time allows,

    Thanks again for input.

  • tacktack Website User Posts: 22

    I have modest editing needs.  When I demoed Premiere, I found it was vastly, vastly smoother, faster, and even slightly more intuitive than HF.  The speed at least was definitely appreciable.

    I have tried a great many video editing software in recent times.  I had been a PowerDirector user for the past couple of years, but I just grew too fed up with how terrible it is.  I really did expect to ragebuy a Premiere subscription just because it seems like the only thing that covered the basics well, but in the end I just could not bring myself to be held hostage to Adobe's subscription model.

    HF does the basics very nicely, albeit with a performance that just short of acceptable.  Still, the sensible pricing model, excellent community, wonderful tutorial videos, and breadth of HF's capability eventually led me to pick up HF4.

    This is a bit off-topic granted (given it's not so much about FX) but the remark about Adobe's subscription plan compelled me to comment. :)

  • GeorgeMcFarlaneGeorgeMcFarlane Website User Posts: 5

    Thanks Tack.

    All input and comments appreciated.

    The industry as a whole can be a bit of a minefield for the novice, that's a minefield without the benefit of a map to guide you through the myriad of choices and options.

    I don't have the wealth of experience or knowledge with other programmes but I am curious.

    I should say that Hit Film has been able to connect with me at my level and I can sense that via the community I will progress through the skill levels. That aspect alone is refreshing and as I stated earlier I have been impressed when I see the results of what's possible on the Movie Wall and the various tutorials.

    I'm aware of AE by reputation only, the subscription model does not appeal to me for my needs but I have been  curious as to what I would gain, if anything, by signing on that dotted line which I would prefer to avoid.

    Thanks again for your time and your comments.

  • LIFE_LEADERSHIPLIFE_LEADERSHIP Website User Posts: 237 Just Starting Out
    edited March 2016


    Chiming in here, considering I was in the same boat last year.  I have always been a fan of Hitfilm.  It is a great program that gets better with every update.

    As mentioned above, it does have is limitations however,  Early on,  as an amateur vfx guy,  I was happy with the learning curve in Hitfilm.  Initially, I started learning after effects but it had such a steep learning curve that I became discouraged.  I was still enamored by what you could create in after effects though.  

    When I learned Hitfilm and started creating more advanced effects,  I realized that there were effects in after effects I could not duplicate in Hitfilm. Just look at some of Andrew Kramer's videos on videocopilot.net... 

    The good news was, my knowledge of hitfilm enabled me to better learn and understand after effects... now I love after effects, even though it's subscription based,  I am able to create effects that are Hollywood worthy.  As any serious artist will tell you, sometimes,  multiple programs are utilized in a project to achieve the final result. For example,  I use Hitfilm, After effects, Tiller pro 4 and Cinema 4d, to create a new effect or movie.  Many others use a combination of Sony vegas and Hitfilm, among others, to complete their projects.  It's all according to what you are used, what your needs are,  and what you are comfortable with. 

    Bottom line,  I wouldn't disregard after effects altogether,  despite the costs associated with using the program.  It all depends on what you are trying to achieve and what your goals are.  At first, hitfilm was awesome and was all I needed... that is,  until I started seeing movie effects and vfx on you tube that I wanted to create but had a hard time duplicating in hitfilm.   After effects, for instance,  has some great templates you can buy or download for free. They are awesome.  As of late,  hitfilm has very few templates available,  something that may change over time. Not a big deal...

    Either way, both programs are great but if you are just looking for a program to do basic and advanced effects, hitfilm is perfect. As you get more advanced, if ever, After effects is a standard in the professional world that has a lot to offer. There's not much you cant do with after effects, with the right amount of patience and the skill to learn the program. :)

    Not sure if this helps.  

  • GeorgeMcFarlaneGeorgeMcFarlane Website User Posts: 5

    It All Helps LIFE,

    Always good to hear other perspectives especially when they are based on real experience so thanks for that.

    I'm still on the curve with Hit Film as I said earlier and it's got me surprised several times for various reasons so I guess that's my place for the time being and I should see that through to the end.

    As you mentioned, becoming bogged down on alternative curves where I do not need to be for now may cause more harm than good.

    Besides, I don't see myself applying to Hollywood for many many years.

    Thanks again for time and input,

    Always appreciated.

  • LIFE_LEADERSHIPLIFE_LEADERSHIP Website User Posts: 237 Just Starting Out

    Sure thing.  Hitfilm is awesome but just as important,  are the creators of hitfilm. The staff and all of the talented supporters on the forum here make the entire experience a grade above adobe in my opinion. :)


  • Aladdin4dAladdin4d Moderator Website User, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,509 Enthusiast

    Whenever you're looking at different software packages the two most important things to assess are needs and budget so the first question you have to ask yourself is do you need something HitFilm can't do. If the answer is no then you're pretty much done. If the answer is yes then it's time to assign a monetary value to that need and check out everything that claims to fulfill that need because you might be very surprised by what you find. 

    Case 1. I needed basic single point tracking. After checking everything out I could find my short list included writing my own extension or script for Sony Vegas, paying somebody to write an extension or script for me (not as expensive as you think) Boris Continuum Complete, After Effects or HitFilm. Sony came through at just the right time with a really really good upgrade offer for HitFilm along with Sound Forge and some nice plugins. 

    Case 2. I had a client that wanted a fairly simple animation project done. Their art department had already created all the visual assets but they didn't have anybody that knew anything about how to put it all together in a video project. Of course the art department uses Adobe CC so everything was done in Illustrator and Photoshop. This is a very common use case for After Effects and HitFilm can't import Illustrator ai files or PhotoShop PSD files so realistically using it on this project was a no go, Sony Vegas can import PhotoShop files but not Illustrator files. I thought I was going to have to break down and rent After Effects but I got really lucky. Apparently the art department was used to dealing with somebody that couldn't handle Illustrator files because they included an encapsulated post script version of every vector asset and I already had Titler Pro which can import and animate eps files.  In hindsight I still would have been better off renting After Effects but I was able to make do with what I already had. 



  • GeorgeMcFarlaneGeorgeMcFarlane Website User Posts: 5

    Thanks Aladdin,

    I'm hearing your message about needs versus price points which I can easily agree with. It may be a few years yet before we can have a meaningful conversation about scripting etc but I'm sure i'll get there.

    Just need to thank everyone now for their inputs and tales of their experience, extremely helpful.

    The result of your feedback is a realisation that I'm probably in the correct place for my needs so I've taken the plunge and signed up for HitFilm4 Pro which seems to be a comprehensive package at first glance considering the extras that came with it.

    I'm on the curve now and i'll be digesting new lessons each day.

    So thanks again everyone,

    more power to your productions.


  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,208 Ambassador

    George, for future reference this is an (incomplete) list of some of the major differences between the two programs.

    AE has a few major functions Hitfilm lacks--Most notable are Expressions/Scripting and a Render Queue. A Render Queue allows a user to set up multiple shots/projects to render out, which is always nice. Expressions allow automation of certain functions, but, to be honest, a good 98% of what people use Expressions for can be quickly keyframed (A good example is the oft seen ">Parameter value<=time*10." So in a ten second shot this is two keyframes--one with a value of 0, the other with a value of 100).

    AE Also has a "Puppet Warp" tool that Hitfilm lacks--this tool basically lets one deform an image based on setting some "pivot points." Depending on the shot there are at least three other techniques that can be done in Hitfilm to get similar looks.

    AE has a Warp Stabilizer--a method of stabilizing footage superior to Hitfilm's. However, free software like VirtualDub has good stabilizers, so there are other options available--yes, one has to "round-trip" to VirtualDub and back to Hitfilm. No big deal.

    AE has a Rotobrush--this is a slightly easier way of drawing rotomasks than a straight masking tool, but Hitfilm's masking tools and the roto tools in Mocha have all the functionality covered. Again, no big deal.

    AE has some painting tools to draw brush strokes directly on screen. Again there are multiple techniques to get the same type of thing in Hitfilm. Some require a round trip to something like Photoshop or GIMP, but it can be done.

    In it's UI AE allows color coding of layers for reference and dropping markers on a timeline and locking a track to avoid shifting it. Of these three I would argue that the markers would be highest priority, but, again, these aren't big deals to not have.

    And many other minor things (AE's Fractal noise has more noise types than Hitfilm), but the above hits most of the "Critical" ones.

    Hitfilm has native support for 3D models--in AE this requires the Element 3D plug-in for $200. E3D is fantastic, but it's base functionality isn't really more advanced than Hitfilm's. E3D does have a nice materials browser which give preset materials for drag and drop texturing, so that can be a bit faster than setting up materials in Hitfilm, but, again, that's not a critical thing.

    Hitfilm's built-in particle engine is fantastic--in AE you'd need Trapcode Particular ($499) to get anything as good. Between Particular and Hitfilm there are a few minor differences, but, pretty much if you can do it in one, you can do it in the other. Particular has some "Air resistance" controls Hitfilm doesn't have, but there are ways of setting up a sim in Hitfilm to simulate drag. On the other hand, Particular only supports two deflectors in a particle system, where Hitfilm lets you have as many as you want!

    Hitfilm has it's unified 3D space. In AE an Element 3D or Particular layer renders as a 2D plane. Hitfilm can do that as well by setting a model or particle layer to "2D" mode, but Hitiflm has it's additional 3D Unrolled mode where models and particles interact with each other and other asset layers in the same 3D world. This makes setting up a variety of shots easier in Hitiflm without having to do tricks to set up occlusion layers like one does in AE.

    AE comes with a version of Mocha that only does roto splines. There's a version that adds camera tracking, but it's $150. The Mocha that ships with Hitfilm has the camera tracking AND rotospline modules.

    Hitfilm has been flagged in several reviews as being, in general, faster to work with than AE--surprising since AE has a fancy custom render engine. That said, AE does deal with mp4 footage more smoothly.

    Finally, AE is an effects program and compositor--it's designed to create single shots and pass them off to Premiere for editing. Hitfilm has an entire editing module--while Hitfilm's editor is merely functional, not elegant (and missing a few key feature that make it unsuitable for certain types of editing--I'm talking multicam support for persons cutting multiple camera events) it's got all the basic tools needed to cut film-style projects.

    Again, an incomplete list but something to think about if/when you hit the edges of what Hitfilm can do. In the meantime, there's a lot of power in Hitfilm, and you can really do a lot of great looking stuff with it. Enjoy!


  • Andy001zAndy001z Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,863 Ambassador

    I have to say that it's Hitfilm for me. As a Hobbyist VFX'r I can't afford the budget for AE subscription and Hitfilm provides such an excellent pay/own buy model with Hitfilm 3 Express now being a free bit of software to get anyone started. Yes AE has more online tutorials but some of these can be duplicated in HF. Also the community here are a grand bunch :)

  • chibichibi Website User Posts: 257

    I would go for HF for hobbyist.

    There's one critical thing lacking before it can challenge AE in the pro market. Multi layer exr support. No exr no aovs/buffers.

    Come on devs add it this year :)

  • StormyKnightStormyKnight Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 2,726 Ambassador

    I can't add much other than my experience was pretty much the same as LIFE_LEADERSHIP only I had started with VisionLab, an older program offered by FXhome about 6(?) years ago. I have AfterEffects CS5 [avoiding the subscription- yay!] and even though it cost quite a bit I don't use it near as much as HF4P. The learning curve is much less steep in HF as opposed to AE so I caught on to things a lot quicker.

    Hobbyist? HF4P..........definitely. Besides, there are work-a-rounds for some of the things AE can do to accomplish them in HF.

  • BobDiMarzioBobDiMarzio Website User Posts: 632 Just Starting Out

    If I had to choose one  AE feature that is missing in HF4 I would choose Warp Stabilizer.      As a middle aged hobbyist, even my glide cam footage is a bit shaky.  :)


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