I've been a illustrator and graphic designer for a number of years and now I'm looking to go more into motion graphics and visual effects. Is there anything that is open source/free (not a demo, education version or trial) that is as complex and feature-rich as Adobe After Effects but for Linux? I've tried Cinlerra, kdenlive, openshot and Blender and whilst they are good at video editing (and 3d modelling in Blender's case) they fall short in effects and compositing features.

I've also tried Ramen, but the project recently closed and the last update was quite buggy.

Also, CineFX/Jahshaka doesn't work and hasn't been updated in many many years, so don't mention it ;-)

  • Have you tried combining them to achieve the effect you want? I know it can be frustrating to find an alternative, but sometimes all it takes is a change in methods :)
    – RolandiXor
    Apr 3, 2011 at 0:52
  • What do mean by combining them? Do you have any techniques for doing so? The reason I ask is because if each of those programs listed don't have what I'm looking for how will combining them help? Apr 3, 2011 at 0:58
  • @hellocatood: Well, I mean something like producing effects using a combination of programs, like doing fire in blender and mixing it with something from Inkscape for example.
    – RolandiXor
    Apr 3, 2011 at 1:23
  • @Roland Taylor: That (could) work if I'm looking to do things like fire. What about smaller things like removing cables from a building? Also, the question isn't asking how to do specific effects, it's asking for software alternatives. It may be a good idea to use After Effects and note down what it is capable of and how it works Apr 3, 2011 at 7:25
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    I have used After Effects. Nothing in Free Software even comes close. Apr 19, 2011 at 16:07

13 Answers 13


Try Blender. It's a free, open source content creation suite that has an impressive number of features:

  • Two built-in rendering engines, Blender Internal (fast) and Cycles (realistic), along with other experimental engines such as Freestyle
  • A game engine
  • The Bullet physics engine, which can be integrated with the above
  • A text editor
  • An image editor
  • A non-linear editor that works with both audio and video
  • Tight integration with the open-source, highly popular Python programming language:
    • Python syntax highlighting in the text editor
    • An interactive Python prompt
    • A Python-scriptable interface accelerated with OpenGL
    • Extension with Python plugins
    • Python integration in the game engine
  • Motion tracking
  • Collada import/export
  • Compositing
  • A node editor for Blender highly flexible Cycles rendering engine
  • CUDA/OpenCL-based GPU rendering for Nvidia cards
  • Fluid, cloth, smoke, and fire physics simulations

And much, much more. Not to mention a rapid release cycle (~2 months), a large amount of high-quality documentation (both free and paid; see Blender Cookie), a large, vibrant community, a Blender SE proposal on Area51 currently in the commit stage and four successful Creative-Commons-licensed movie projects.

How does this apply to you? Using the aforementioned motion tracking feature allows you to utilize Blender's power to generate some pretty good special effects (not quite on par with After Effects - it is primarily a 3D modeling application, after all). As Blender's motion tracking algorithms get improved and the visual effects get more realistic, using Blender as a replacement for After Effects should become an easier and easier switch to make.


Having used after effects a fair bit in the past and had a good search around on the open source community the simple answer is unfortunately no.

There are plenty of non linear editors, which are like adobe premier, but nothing really like after effects. The closest I can think of would be kdenlive which I have heard has a few effects (although I've never used it), however I don't think any of them really stand up to after effects.

TBH I unfortunately switch back to my windows partition for doing any serious video editing like that because After effects doesn't work well under wine either.

I would absolutely love to be proved wrong and someone know a really good effects program, but I suspect for the moment I'm going to be dissapointed.

  • Blender is much better now. Especially after the recent updates. You should probably give it a try
    – Trect
    Jul 2, 2019 at 7:01

For anyone coming here through Google searches, a lot has changed since this post was made.

Firstly, Blender has gotten much better at compositing and effects. There have been some really excellent uses of this, a (slightly outdated) example of which being Tears of Steel.

Secondly, the software Jahshaka has been mentioned a couple times in this thread. It was dismissed due to being out of date. Well, as of 2013, it has developers working on it again, although it seems that their progress is extraordinarily slow.

There are, of course, other changes, but I saw those two as being the most notable. Please correct me if I missed something significant concerning the programs that have already been mentioned in this thread.

  • 1
    I don't think that Jahshaka is back in development. If you check it's page on Sourceforge you'll see that it's last commit was in April 2013 sourceforge.net/projects/jahshakafx Nov 4, 2015 at 7:13
  • You're right, I'll edit my answer. Their website announces "Jahshaka 3.0!" on the front page, which, in my opinion, is quite misleading. Nov 5, 2015 at 21:25

Here In Greece there are not many studios that use AE. They use an open source software called Jahshaka which is pretty powerfull but a little unstable yet. Its developers, as far as I know, are working to the next release of it 3.0 which will be much more stable with more AE features.

Current features are:

  • Animation with 3d models
  • Layer based compositing
  • Non linear video editing
  • Picture Corrector, including:
    • Keying,
    • Color Correction,
    • Real time particles,
    • Masks

On the first look it's pretty complicated to understand but if you play with it a little you' ll find out a beast.

It is still on beta stage and sometimes is unstable.

  • Jahshaka doesn't work and hasn't been updated in many years Jun 25, 2013 at 12:23

I might be late to the party, but I felt that one important answer was lacking.

While After Effects has it's place in VFX, it is considered to be old fashioned by many specialists in the field due to the archaic UI. Most modern competitors to After Effects use a node based user interface, with nuke being the prominent contender.

And while open source alternatives to After Effects are lacking, node based alternatives are not! There is an offering called NATRON, which is already feature-rich and mature enough to be called an entry level replacement for After-Effects-if-it-was-node-based.


I have Blender installed and will one day get my head around it.

I have never used After Effects. I found this open source node-based compositor called Synapse for Linux and Windows:


It is not very well known so spread the word!

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    Looking at the link that you provided, Vexx hasn't seen any activity since late 2011 and the last linux code was from May 2010. Jan 13, 2013 at 22:09

Video editor are in the high priority list of the Free Software Foundation.

complex and feature-rich as Adobe After Effects.

What exactly it means? If it is possible can you explain better, or give a link to a video/page showing that effects?

Maybe a free software project created to be a free replacement of After Effects is not a bad idea.

With the question of the Blender. I like it, but I think that the video editor of this program, it is not at the level of AE.



I know some time has passed since the OP, but I just had the same question and came across Natron - its design is based on Nuke, and it looks pretty promising. I'm intending to dig deeper into it real soon myself.

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    Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! I recommend editing this answer to expand it with specific details about how to install this. (See also How do I write a good answer? for general advice about what sorts of answers are considered most valuable on AskUbuntu.) Nov 10, 2016 at 1:15

Free software video editing software Many users are seduced into using proprietary software for video editing because they are unable to achieve the effects they want using the current state of the art in free software video editing and production software. More and more everyday computer users are becoming amateur videographers, and we need to make sure that their operating systems come complete with free software to meet their needs.

Ways to help.There are a number of quality, free software video editing programs, such as Kino, Cinelerra, AVIDemux, Kdenlive, LiVES, Lumiera, as well as PiTiVi, Blender, and the Open Movie Editor. Along the way, the easiest way to help is to use these editors and to encourage others to do the same. You can help these projects directly by submitting bug reports, adding features, improving usability, and creating tutorials, guides, and documentation.

  • Your answer suggests video editors. After Effects is not a video editor. Apr 18, 2013 at 11:43

I can definitely recommend Blender! It might look like a 3d-program but it is in fact a very powerful compositor. You can do color correcting, masks, compositions and lots of things inside of this program. I would say its a lot steeper learning curve than after effects, since you have to understand node based compositing etc, but I have used Blender now for 2 months and I can already do "After Effects" stuff in it if I want.


I am a VFX artist and working around 7 years in VFX industry. Its really fortunate for adobe to have a very good group of mentors to teach After effect in an easy way. For that they are gaining lots of customers. But the truth is in VFX Standard Industry After Effects has gone cliche 5 years ago. No firms involving in Hollywood are preferring After Effect anymore. As the disability of Layer based limitation like multi channel EXR (Which is common). If any one interested in professional VFX should try this following applications: 1. http://www.thefoundry.co.uk/products/nuke-product-family/nuke/

  1. http://www.autodesk.com/products/autodesk-maya/overview

And also some other like photoshop (Gimp alternative), Hiero from Foundry, Zbrush from Pixologic and yes Houdini.

Most of them are supported in Linux Platform, cause everyone knows for development organized programmers are the basic asset. Also Linux is used for simulation, Network Rendering and asset management and yes Software Dev. But Zbrush one of the core for modeling has not yet launched. And if questioning about photoshop. They will not. So its an application variant. But for most of the pro apps there is Linux system, you just need to purchase it.But be aware of the flexibility and integration of your pipeline before purchasing them. In the end for pro I think you should try linux only if you can get all your apps available in linux compability


You should try Debugmode WAX. It is basically a more compact and easier to use version of blender. Although there are still a few problems with it, just check out their help page for all your answers.

WAX HOMEPAGE: http://www.debugmode.com/wax/


You can also try Fusion free software from blackmagicdesign.com. The hardware necessary to work with it has to be upgraded up to 8GB (minimum) of RAM, Core i7 CPU and a good video card.

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