Part of the reason that Adobe has long led the pack in professional editing software is that it has produced not one but two of the most powerful video editing programs on the market: After Effects and Premiere Pro.
Both of these platforms boast a head-spinning array of features and effects that are designed to give your video footage a professional polish and help you edit your projects faster and with more precision than ever before.
But which one do you choose when it comes to editing your next project? There are many overlapping features, as well as distinct features, between the two, which can make deciding on which program to use a challenge, especially for editors and filmmakers who are just starting out.
We decided to put these programs head-to-head so that you can see where each one reigns supreme, which will hopefully help you more easily decide which one to use for your next project.
What Do After Effects and Premiere Pro Do?
On a basic level, After Effects and Premiere Pro are both video editing programs. They both allow you to manipulate video footage, adjust color, and add special effects, resulting in a much more polished image than raw footage alone.
The Main Differences Between After Effects and Premiere Pro
Adobe Premiere Pro was mainly designed to be a non-linear editing program, so its features heavily lean towards making the assembly of multi-shot video footage and audio as simple as possible. It’s also easy to do things like adding transitions between video clips in your timeline.
After Effects, however, heavily focuses on visual effects and manipulating and adding to the footage itself to create stunning visual effects (think text drop-ins, special effects like fire and lightning, and image manipulation like picture-in-picture). There are even some 3d modeling capabilities within this tool.
Ok, here’s what you’ve been waiting for. It’s time to put these programs up against each other and see which ones excel in each of our key categories:
Ease of Use
- Winner: Premiere Pro
- Why: While both programs are designed to be user-friendly, the nature of After Effects demands a little bit more skill and has a steeper learning curve when it comes to setting keyframes, adding layers, and other tools. Premiere Pro has a pretty simple learning curve, with most of its functions being drag-and-drop and its navigation being pretty simple to understand.
Quality of Support
- Winner: Tie
- Why: No matter which program you decide to use, Adobe’s customer support is top-notch. Adobe.com has hundreds of tutorials for all its software to help guide you through the different features that are available. If you get stuck, you also have access to the Adobe community, where you can ask questions or browse previous questions and answers to help you get un-stuck. If all else fails, Adobe's support team is available by chat, email, or phone to help you through whatever issue you may be facing.
- Winner: Premiere Pro
- Why: While After Effects packs a mighty punch when it comes to effects, newer editors and seasoned pros alike will likely find the basic effects that are pre-built into Premiere Pro to be more than sufficient to give their videos the professional polish they need. It includes surprisingly powerful tools like Warp Stabilizer that you’d never guess were included effects in a non-linear editing program. You can also create titles, quickly correct color, and remove video and color noise. For basic effects, Premiere Pro more than has you covered.
Advanced Visual Effects
- Winner: After Effects
- Why: This is where After Effects really shines. If you want to do more than correct basic video problems and add color grades After Effects will be the program you turn to time and time again. Whether you're adding motion tracking or superimposing a 5-story high lizard, you can make it happen in After Effects. This powerful program is loved by visual effects editors the world over for its functionality and comparable ease-of-use for creating stunning visual effects in nearly any scenario.
- Winner: After Effects
- Why: Again, creating visuals that don't exist in real life is what After Effects does best, which makes it great for animation. It has all the tools you need to build exciting, dynamic animations of all shapes and sizes and has been used extensively to create award-winning animated films. Whether you're a novice animator or a seasoned pro, After Effects will likely become one of your most beloved world-building programs.
- Winner: Tie
Why: G2, one of the most trusted sources for software reviews, rated both After Effects and Adobe Premiere as a solid 4.5/5 stars, scoring them highly in nearly every category from usability to support. Users also weighed in, scoring both programs highly overall.
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Who is After Effects Best Suited For?
- Visual Effects Artists: These are After Effects' target users, from general footage manipulation to stunning computer-generated imagery, After Effects is perfect for visual effects artists of all shapes and sizes.
- Animators: Animators are also a prime user base for After Effects, and they’ve packed the platform full of features that allow animators to build worlds both big and small. With tons of camera actions and built-in animation tools, After Effects has long been the darling of professional animators the world over.
Who is Premiere Pro Best Suited For?
- Editors: Premiere Pro is first and foremost a video editor's platform. From DIY filmmakers looking to quickly and seamlessly edit their footage to professional editing houses, Premiere Pro has proven itself capable of tackling any challenge when it comes to perfectly assembling footage with professional precision.
- Content Creators: For content creators who entertain their audiences on YouTube, Instagram, Vimeo, TikTok, or any other video-based platforms, Premiere Pro is the perfect workhorse to help creators churn out high-quality content at a pace their fans demand. Its intelligent editing tools and drag-and-drop functionality means you'll spend less time learning how to use the platform and more time creating and publishing the content that your audience knows and loves.
- Filmmakers: While filmmakers will also enjoy the powerful visual effects tools in After Effects, many will find themselves primarily working with Premiere Pro because, for most, it has all the tools they need under one roof. It's the perfect place to build a narrative project from start to finish, even including the end credits. It's a simple workflow that is perfect for storytellers who want to focus on the bigger picture without getting caught up in too many technical hurdles if they don't want to.
So, Which One Should You Choose?
The real beauty of both After Effects and Premiere Pro is that you can use them independently or together, depending on your needs.
For filmmakers that want an easy assembly platform paired with powerful visual effects or motion graphics tools, they can utilize Adobe Dynamic Link, which allows users to seamlessly share assets between Premiere Pro and After Effects without rendering or exporting your footage. This allows them to work together as one platform with nearly no lag, a huge win for DIY filmmakers and content creators who are operating as a "one-man band" in the editing room.
For strictly visual effects artists, After Effects may be all you need to create your striking images. For strictly assembly editors, you may gravitate only to Premiere Pro. The choice is really up to you, and what your needs are for each project you're working on.
And if you’re someone who just can’t choose, Adobe offers both programs (along with Photoshop and others) bundled in their Creative Cloud subscription, giving you the flexibility of working with one or both as your needs change between projects.
Hopefully, this head-to-head comparison will make choosing the right software for your next project a breeze, allowing you to unleash your creative energy and focus on telling the stories that matter the most to you through stunning images.
If you’re looking for a better way to bring your remote editing team closer together and collaborate more efficiently from a distance, check out Evercast. Evercast allows you to stream your edit sessions in HD while video chatting and exchanging notes with your team, all under one platform. Because we believe collaboration is the magic behind the movies.