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the Best Free Software for VFX

We know how expensive adding visual effects to your films and videos can be. ProductionCrate started because utilizing VFX  was a difficult and costly process. In our journey to bring you professional and accessible assets for your projects we have come across software that shares a similar vision. Here is our list of the top free software options for video effects.

 


Hitfilm Express

If you’re not familiar with Hitfilm then you’re in for a treat. Hitfilm Express is an easy-to-use professional editing software, free for anyone to download. It’s packed with features, allowing any creator to build complex scenes with convenient tools. We gave Hitfilm Express the #1 Spot because of the overall flexibility and functionality it provides. If you’re looking for one software to add video effects to your projects, look no further.

Hitfilm Express is great for compositing, tracking, masking, transitions, and more. The Hitfilm community is fantastic, and you’ll have no trouble finding plenty of tutorials to get you started. You’ll also notice regular updates to the software, keeping it modern and up-to-date. It’s our favorite free VFX software. Check out this color grading tutorial for getting started.


Blender

Blender has always been the go-to software for free 3D work, but with recent improvements it has become so much more than just the “free-alternative”. Since Blender 2.8 has been released we can comfortably say that the software is as capable and functional as most 3D software out there. The user-community is absolutely massive, with a hardcore following and thousands of helpful artists. You can find tons of tutorials online if you’re just starting out and get on your feet fairly quickly.

We primarily use C4D and 3DSmax for most of our 3D projects, however the exciting updates in Blender were too good to pass up. Adrian decided to see how much Blender he could learn in just one month, see how he did in the video below.


GIMP

Whether for story-boarding, matte painting, graphic editing or concept art you’ll need a good 2D image editor. When it comes to a free option, there is none better than GIMP. GIMP has be around for decades. It is open-source, so you will see a lot of plugins and assets built and provided by the community. They have basic tutorials to get you started, but we always suggest searching on Youtube for the best educational content.

The learning curve is considered somewhat difficult, but once you’re used to the functions and interface you’ll be cruising. We use Photoshop at ProductionCrate, but GIMP is considered the best free alternative, and it’s always awesome to use open-source software. Here’s a great video to get you going.

 


Unreal Engine

We were a little hesitant to add UE to our list, since the software is primarily used for game development, but with the recent advancements we’re seeing from the Epic Games team we had no choice! UE offers the amazing abilities to create hyper-realistic scenes, live in-engine compositing, set extensions, particle systems, dynamics, and entire worlds. The learning curve is far more difficult than any of the previously mentioned software, but there are more tutorials showing up to get you started. Since launching RenderCrate we’ve been diving deeper and deeper into the 3D world, so grasping Unreal Engine and utilizing it for our projects is something we’re hoping to tackle.

Check out this insanely cool video for UE4’s virtual production abilities below (also this mind-blowing demo for UE5)