HitFilm 4 Pro vs AE?

pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27

Hi all! I've been looking at getting into movies/VFX for quite some time now. I'm finally ready to make the plunge, but after researching I'm basically looking at either HFP4 or Adobe AE (I have a CC yearly membership currently).

I'm a complete amateur so I'll have to learn a lot either way which I'm totally cool with. My main goals are just to create short (rarely over 5 minutes or so) comedy skits with realistic VFX here and there as needed. That can of course change and grow into longer/larger projects as time progresses, but you get the idea.

  1. Will my needs outgrow HF? 
  2. What areas are they stronger/weaker than each other?
  3. Does HFP4 support plugins?
  4. For structured training, would HitFilm 3 Pro Essential Training (lynda.com) work well for HFP4?

I'm looking for unbiased opinions, but I figured nobody would know HF4P better than ya'll! Any help is appreciated :)



  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    3. HF doesn't support 3rd party plugins

    4. Lynda.com offers some great tutorials for HF, however the HF youtube page makes tutorials pretty regularly

  • pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27

    Thanks for the reply TriFlix. The tutorials on YouTube look great, but it seems to lack a lot of structure. I guess I kind of like a curriculum  to follow to get me through all the basics so I understand the what, when, how, and why.

    I guess that's been one of the things that worries me about HF...the learning resources. AE has been in the game for a long time, and it has TONS of resources. HitFilm has been around for quite some time as well, but the resources just aren't there. The lynda.com tutorial I mentioned in the OP is literally the only professional tutorial I could find outside of YouTube. The software looks amazing, but it will only do what I know how to do.

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

    HitFilm Pro editions do support third party OFX plugins including Red Giant Universe, some from Re:Vision Effects like Twixtor and many from NewBlueFX and there are probably others that work.

    This is the best introductory tutorial HitFilm

    There's the already mentioned Lynda.com stuff and the HitFilm YouTube channel. HitFilm has a much lower learning curve than AE so once you get through those resources and have an understanding of not only HitFilm but compositing, you'll be able to start watching AE or Motion tutorials and apply what you're seeing to HitFilm. On top of all that there's the HitFilm community. Anytime you have a question, ask it here and somebody will provide an answer. Sometimes several people will provide several answers ;)

    A HitFilm Pro license also comes with the Ignite OFX plugins that work in several hosts including Premiere and AE. You can also buy the Ignite plugins separately. Even if you choose not to go with HitFilm definitely get the Ignite plugins! Because they work in both AE and Premiere many things you would normally be forced into doing in AE can be done without ever leaving Premiere. They work the same across hosts so if you decide to move on to something else like Edius or Resolve, you still get the same effects and looks you're used to. If you hurry there's a 50% off promotion going on with Film Riot through June 27th making Ignite $99.50, less than a dollar per effect. Here's the Film Video covering the promo and using Ignite in AE:

  • pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27

    Thanks Aladdin! I appreciate the thorough response above. I love the idea of at least starting off in HitFilm so more complex programs make more sense, but I would love it even more if I never had to leave HitFilm .

    I'm just going to bite the bullet and take advantage of the July 4th $100 sale that's coming up. Thanks again.

  • BobDiMarzioBobDiMarzio Website User Posts: 632 Just Starting Out

    An important consideration is that to have AE do the high end particle and 3D integration you get stock in Hitfilm,  you would also need to buy Elements 3D from Video Copilot,  Particlular from trap code. and Possibly Optical Flares from Video Copilot.   Particular itself is $399.   Something to consider.   Hitfilm Pro 4 is looking better and better.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    I think the major points have been covered. 

    To recap: Hitfilm 4 Pro is better value-for-money. 

    After Effects is, overall, potentially more powerful than Hitfilm--AE has a few features Hitfilm is missing like Warp Stabilization, puppet warps, liquify, and scripting/expressions, but Hitfilm has 3D model/particle features that require expensive plug-ins. Conversely, some of the features Hitfilm doesn't have can be added via 3'rd party plug-ins. 

    Hitfilm and AE are similar enough where learning good workflow in one translates to the other. 

    The lynda course is excellent and everything in it applies to Hitfilm 4. The lynda course won't cover new HF4 features like the value graph keyframes or auto-align layers, but those are easy to learn. This thread is now out of date, but it has a well structured list of tutorials for Hitfilm 1-3 broken down by subject matter. Note that any tutorial for an old version applies to a current version (same with AE). This type of software never removes features, just adds new ones. 


  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    Sorry for the misinformation, I was under the impression "not just anybody"
     could design a working third party plug-in for HF the way a lot of people do with AE. @Treim23

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

    Just noticed this tonight but the Visual Effects for Guerrilla Filmmakers  course is being offered again and starts August 8. It's a great opportunity to learn some good techniques while you try out HitFilm and it's free!

  • karma17karma17 Website User Posts: 46

    I gave up on AE when they went to the subscription model and then had my account info hacked. For me, HF is the better choice. It is affordable, easy to learn, and much more intuitive. They also seem more responsive as a community and forum, which is important, especially if you stay up late at night and get stuck on a particular problem. I see HF as having heart whereas Adobe just seems like a mega-corporation to me. In terms of VFX, the sky is pretty much the limit with HF. They keep improving it and improving it and there is always a creative solution if there is an effect you are trying to create. There are a couple of tutorials (I think making a planet is one of them) and it was inspired by Andrew Kramer's version of it in AE. If you watch that video, you see that HF goes toe to toe with AE in creating what is a rather complex effect. For basic effects, for me, at least, HF is the way to go. I don't think you will outgrow HF. If anything, it will outgrow you.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    @TriFlixFilms I assume one has to be a licensee, but Hitfilm Pro is OpenFx compliant, so, yeah, there's potential. @Aladdin4d already mentioned most of them. I do know BCC will eventually become available for Hitfilm 4 Pro. BCC, NewBlue Re:Vision, Red Giant Universe are the only ones I can think of, but those suites offer a ton a power. 

  • pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27

    Thanks everyone! This definitely seems like a solid community, and the cost side of HF has obvious benefits.

    I already signed up for the course Aladdin mentioned, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'll use the Lynda course as well since I have a free membership through the public library (libraries these days have amazing resources you should check out). I figure after all that I should be decently comfy I the program.

    Love the plugin ability and even if the number of plugins are small it doesn't really matter if big names like BCC and red giant are available. 

    Again, thanks everyon

  • kevin_nkevin_n Website User Posts: 1,923 Enthusiast
    edited June 2016

    This community offers advise, tutorials, a ton of input from staff that I've never come across before. You'd be very happy with the support.

    I too gave up on Adobe, linking was incredible but for my workflow, I don't require linking. 

    Now as far as "I never had to leave HitFilm" is concerned, well I hope that FXHome adds a node based color system, so that I can stop using DaVinci, it's all I use it for. It's not a bad program, just not ideal, because jumping between programs isn't as easy as in Adobe's suite. I have to render out in AVI then transcode that back to DNxHD which is a bit time consuming but no big deal for me personally. 

    The audio system in HitFilm is sub par, even though I'm doing basic mixing, which could be done in HitFilm, I still prefer Audacity because it's faster to do the same thing, in my opinion.

    Maybe start out with express and see if you need any more features? It's very powerful.

    My workflow consists of HitFilm, Audacity, DaVinci. In that order, editing, audio, color correct and grade.

       Interested to hear what you decide to go with, and why. :-)


  • karma17karma17 Website User Posts: 46

    I should add that I only use HitFilm for VFX sequences and render out using the .png sequence, which gives excellent results. I still use Vegas 13 for putting everything together and like the range of rendering choices Vegas provides, especially since I render DVDs and Blu-Ray discs using DVD Architect Pro.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    FWIW my workflow is similar to karma17's. I use Hitfilm as a shot generator, and I might use Hitfilm's editor to do a quick rough cut of a sequence if I'm creating several shots, but I'll still render out of Hitfilm as PNG and move to Vegas for my main edit.

    But the ignite plug-ins work in Vegas, so that also brings a lot of Hitiflm's power directly to Vegas.

  • pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27

    Great info everyone! I really appreciate every single response to this thread. 

    Quick question for @karma17 and @Triem23. Are you basically clipping the scenes that need VFX out in Vegas, taking that into HF to add whatever, and then exporting to png to fill the gap back in Vegas?

    What makes you choose Vegas over doing everything in HF? Speed? Just curious :)

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    Vegas can send information back and forth from Hitfilm, although with current versions there's a minor hack to re-enable the integration. But, yes, I would send to Hitfilm only the sections requiring Hitfilm for VFX, then bring back the Hitfilm media to Vegas. I do render files instead of using the integration. 

    NLE choice is largely personal. A lot of editors swear by FCPX or Avid or Premiere. In my case I have experience in all of them and, out of Vegas, Avid, Premiere and FCPX Vegas to me has the best workflow and control setup. 

    Premiere and Avid are more powerful than Vegas and have faster rendering encoders, but for sheer speed of slapping together clips and setting up your cuts and dissolves nothing is faster than Vegas--and most editing is... Moving around clips and doing cuts and dissolves. 

    I loathe FCPX. 

    Hitfilm's editor is the weak side. As a Compositing and FX program it's truly among the best. It's editor is functional and has all the needed tools. For someone without other NLE software Hitfilm is a godsend. Especially Express. Still, Vegas has a lot more editing features and it's workflow is different--to do a video or audio dissolve you overlap the clips on a single track. Seriously, such a timesaver! Video/audio fade in-out/opacity are handles built into the timeline bounding box. Dragging out a handle to fade out is a lot faster than keyframes. It also has the most advanced audio mixing features of any NLE. Vegas has scripting, which Hitfilm doesn't, but this means I have my old third-party scripting Plug-ins that can automate in seconds things that would take hours in Hitfilm. 

    TL/DR: Speed, yeah. 

  • pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27

    Awesome! Great reply and thanks for the info.

  • pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27

    Just an update for those who are interested. After giving it a lot of thought, feverishly researching, listening to you guys on the forum, and weighing pros/cons...I'll be buying HF4P tomorrow once the 4th of July sale goes live! I no longer doubt that it will be a great purchase, and I have a 4 day weekend to dive in and start learning. Really looking forward to it :)

  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    I swear by FCP... used HF, premiere, and after effects. FCP is by far the fastest at creating simple edits. And by simple I mean everything by 3D models and advanced VFX. Just not a fan of how slow After Effects and HF take to load/proxy/preview and they don't have live rendering features like FCP.

    Sorry, felt the need to defend it after Triem knocked it hard with that dirty word... "loathe."

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    @TriFilxFilms Ah, but I also said NLE is personal choice. ;-) Ultimately it comes down to two things--which tool the editor is most comfortable with, and the skill of the editor with that toolset. Once a video is out there, no one is going to know what tools were used to edit unless you tell 'em. So, whatever one uses to cut is cool with me.

    My distaste for FCPX doesn't mean it's a bad program, just that the way FCPX is set up is really uncomfortable and inefficient for me (and me alone). I know editors who grumpily insist that Vegas does everything "ass-backwards." Or that Avid is "stuck in 2005." etc. :-)

    But (and now I'm teasing) I'd rather roto all day than cut in FCPX.

  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    Completely understand where you're coming from, no hard feelings :)

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

    @TriFlixFilms the biggest problem I have with FCP  (and Avid) is the majority of FCP  or Avid users. Years ago on another forum there was a Vegas user that had to switch to Mac for some other applications. He picked up FCP 7, tried to use it and ran into some problems. Because he was used to Vegas he tried importing some clips without converting everything to a common format per project or converting some audio clips to AIFF or WAV first. It didn't work. Next he tried importing an MOV. It imported ok but it didn't have audio until he converted it to a separate AIFF stream. Then he had the gall to add text and found out he had to render it before he could even preview it. 

    Needless to say he was frustrated so he posted his experience on the forum and asked if he was doing something wrong or missing something and said he might have to install boot camp and go back to Vegas to get a project done. The final line of his post was "Please tell me I've overlooked something or that this is just a bad dream...." These are the first two responses:

    Post #1


    Post #2

     Sounds like you didn't do your homework before making the switch.

    Editor, Colorist, Director, Writer, Consultant, Author, Chef.
    HD Post and Production.


    And here are some choice quotes from other posts


    "FCP is picky because it wants GOOD audio, not crap audio. Nor crap video."


    "We deal with formats that FCP can edit. Shoot with cameras that FCP can capture or import from."


    "That's how it is. Works for us. If you don't like it, go back to using your garbage."


    "If you have comments for Apple post to feedback. That's what it's for. Posting here does nothing except make you seem like a troll."


    All the FCP users were critical, none offered any meaningful help and all told him in one form or another to go away. I know not every FCP user is like these jokers but in my personal experience the majority are just like them. In fact about the only FCP users I've dealt that aren't just happen to be HitFilm users too. 

  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    @Aladdin4d You've seen my work, I'm  a helpful dude that doesn't have much time to waste haha. FCP will always be my choice editor, everything just works... no converting files. Just drag and drop. Their software is fairly basic but what they have works VERY well and fast.

    Audio correction, color correction, color grading/LUTS (I know not everyone like the way their colorist is set up), masking/keyframing, cutting and compound clips aka compositing. It feels very fluid to me. Not trying to start a flame war, its just that if you are going to pick a software the community does play a big part, but don't let that be the deciding factor.

    I love HitFilms community, 100% better than FCP's elitist trolls. But when it comes down to it I'll always choose FCP over HF for basic NLE (vlogs, tutorials, ect...) However HF offers much more in terms of advanced editing than Motion 5 without paid plug-ins... and I mean PAID (100-300 just for a 3D modeling plug in)

    I self taught FCP over the course of 8 years now, usually just watch AE tutorials and apply the principles. When it comes down to it, choose the one that you work the most efficiently in... if I spent 8 years with Windows Movie makes I'd probably be voicing for it right now. At the end of the day, good content is good content :)

    Sorry your bud didn't have a great experience with FCP, hope Vegas met his needs and worked out. The worst thing that could happen is a person get so discouraged they quit filmmaking because of toxic community members :(

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    @Aladdin4d I've run into the occasional snob on Vegas forums as well. I genuinely think the Hitfilm community is the most helpful out there, due to users like you and Stargazer, NormanPCN, InscapeDigital, StormyKnight, FilmTech, Triflix, etc, etc, etc, (yes, I know everyone would put me on the list, but it's a team effort, folks. :-) )

    On the other hand, try going into an AE forum as a Hitfilm user.... You'll take some abuse. On one of the Hitfilm groups on Facebook we had to remove a user because his answer to every "how do I..." question was "Get After Effects."

    Ok, moving on: Not intended as a flame war or a "mine is better than yours," just a minor comparison of features and workflow illuminating personal preferences.

    For personal preferences--Avid is pretty solid, but it has the annoyance of needing to conform your footage to specific codecs/formats before import, which can be a real issue if you're doing something like, say, a muticam event where suddenly one is forced to transcode all footage, knowing most of it will be tossed. Vegas USED to be the most "format agnostic," where you could throw anything at it and it would be happy. it's slipped a bit in recent years, but I don't want to always transcode everything on import.

    Premiere... bear in mind I stopped on CS6, but, I just am not a fan of it's interface and workflow. I feel I'm fighting Adobe software not working with it (this is also true for me and AE).

    FCPX--It's made a lot of steps in the last few years, but it's initial release after FCP 7 was a freaking disaster. FCPX was put on the market a good year before it was ready to go (I feel the same about Sony Catylist). FCPX has a few niggles in workflow--unless something changed in 2015/2016 FCPX needs all it's footage on a timeline to be identical in dimensions and framerate, which often means transcoding in Compressor before import. BTW, for event work in the SD days I would shoot one camera 1080p as a static wide and post-crop that. These days I'll do that with a 4k cam for 1080p output, but, in Vegas i can throw that 4K footage in my 1080 timeline and pan/crop around. Obviously I don't know how I'm going to crop my 4K until I've done the first multicam pass, so with the FCPX workflow I have to conform my 4K to 1080p, multicam, make my crop decisions, then take all those crops back to the 4K source footage and re-render it at 1080p. Anything that's making that much more work for me isn't going to be my primary tool.

    Hitfilm itself does well in terms of mixing footage of differing resolutions, but the total lack of multicam, and the general sluggishness of the editor means that for now it's not going to be my editor.

    Vegas has it's own issues--mostly the software desperately needs a ground-up rewrite of the render engine, since it's antiquated VfW core now has massive amounts of hack and workaround bolted on to deal with current formats. GPU acceleration in Vegas is better off disabled, as GPU acceleration in Vegas was specifically written for Nvida Fermi chipsets and it doesn't work worth a **** on anything else. This meant when Vegas 10 added GPU acceleration with version 10, for about 2 years GPU acceleration was wonderful and sped everything up. These days, you turn off GPU acceleration so Vegas doesn't crash. I'm not a fan of the "Expanded Edit" mode in Vegas 13--Vegas nicely deals with transitions by the simple method of overlapping clips on timelines, rather than A track, B track and transition track. Expanded Edit splits a single Vegas Track into A track B track and transition track. Why?

    But, as I said a few posts ago, editors should pick whatever tool they are most comfortable in, because, ultimately, one will be judged by the quality of output, not the tools used to create it.

  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out
  • pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27
    edited June 2016

    I have Cyberlink PowerDirector... :| Haha!

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    Nothing wrong with Powerdirector. :-) I've seen great stuff down in Powerdirector. 

    The skill of the artist is way more important than the tools. 

  • pharcydedpharcyded Website User Posts: 27

    Yeah, honestly I figure just use what I have until I find a need to switch to something else. I may even just use HF, and provide feedback so we can get it to a better place.  I love that their team listens to the community.  That in itself is a good reason to buy in.

  • Triem23Triem23 Moderator Moderator, Website User, Ambassador, Imerge Beta Tester, HitFilm Beta Tester Posts: 18,262 Ambassador

    And even if you make something else your primary editor you'll still use Powerdirector for something. There will be that preset or transition that's super-cool that you'll want to use... In VFX one tool shouldn't necessarily replace another, but augment. The short I am working on now is bouncing between Vegas, Mocha Pro, Blender, Autodesk Matchmover,  Hitfilm, AE, Photoshop and Boris FX as needed. If I had Powerdirector I would likely find a tool or effect there to use. :) 

  • TriFlixFilmsTriFlixFilms Website User Posts: 925 Just Starting Out

    @Triem23... what project doesn't involve Photoshop? The only editor everyone agrees is the best... unless you linux.... then you probably hate it. But linux isn't part of everyone hahaha.

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