What Are The Differences Between Final Cut Studio & After Effects

Both After Effects and Final Cut Studio’s Motion application can remove greenscreen backgrounds.

Final Cut Studio is a software suite that contains six different programs, each with a unique application. After Effects is a single piece of software that is designed primarily to create motion graphics and visual effects. In this respect, it is most similar to Motion, the effects software included in the Final Cut Suite. Both After Effects and Motion can be used in conjunction with Final Cut Pro, but only After Effects is compatible with Windows-based editing systems, such as Avid.

Final Cut Studio

Final Cut Studio is a bundle of six post-production tools. These include Final Cut Pro, Soundtrack Pro, Color, Compressor, DVD Studio Pro and Motion. Final Cut Pro is a non-linear video editor, although it does contain some tools to create simple motion graphics and special effects, such as masking and matte-pulling. Soundtrack Pro is an audio editor and sweetener. Color performs chrominance and luminance adjustments in a process commonly known as color correction. Compressor transcodes video and audio clips from one file type to another, and DVD Studio Pro creates DVDs and DVD menus. Motion, the final component of the suite, is the studio’s motion graphics and visual effects software, similar to After Effects.

After Effects

After Effects can perform basic video editing, audio sweetening and color correction, but its tools for these functions are limited. It is primarily used to create motion graphics and visual effects. It is a powerful compositing tool, which means that it can combine multiple video clips into one through its use of layers. Often this is achieved by removing a greenscreen from one or more video clips in a process known as color-keying or matte-pulling. You can also use After Effects to animate still images; add special effects, such as computer-generated fire and smoke; generate moving patterns and particles; or to create any number of similar effects. It also has a more powerful text generator than most non-linear editors, and is often used for titling.

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After Effects v. Motion

After Effects and Motion perform very similar functions. After Effects, however, requires expressions to achieve certain effects, while Motion does not support them. Expressions are lines of code which describe how a parameter behaves. To create a reflection in After Effects that follows its parent object; for instance, you must write a code that describes how the reflection’s x, y and z positions change in relationship to the corresponding parameters of the parent object. Although Motion 4, the most current release at the time of this article’s publication, does not support expressions, some of these relationships can be established in other ways. For example, Motion creates reflections automatically for any selected object with the click of a button.


Final Cut Studio works only on Macintosh computers, while After Effects is compatible with Macs or PCs. Both After Effects and Motion projects can be exported as QuickTime movies, which can be viewed in either operating system, but After Effects can also export in a number of other video formats, including H.264, MPEG-2 and AVI, while Motion is limited to QuickTime movies. After Effect’s project file, however, cannot be imported into Final Cut Pro like Motion’s can. The advantage of importing a project file over an exported movie file is that a project file can be altered in its original program and have those changes automatically reflected in Final Cut. A movie file on the other hand, must be deleted and replaced with a revised version.