Post Production

HitFilm plug-ins for NLEs and After Effects

In April, FxHome spun off most of the plug-ins from HitFilm, their affordable After Effect “clone” app, into a new product, HitFilm Plugins. With over 130 plug-ins for visual effects, compositing, and color grading, the package supports After Effects, Final Cut Pro X, Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas, and Apple Motion on two computers for all hosts on Mac and Windows.

HitFilm Plug-ins seem have been folded into FitFilmPro 3. That’s a very good thing because all users get the standalone plug-ins for various apps, and current owners of the plug-ins get the new HitFilm app for free!

While there’s an overview (bottom) and detail list of tools at FxHome, the quickest overview is through demo videos:

Also useful are the recent notices by Brady Betzel, Lester Banks, and Scott Simmons, and particularly the reviews by Surfaced Studio and Creative Dojo. The latter 2 even have video in addition to their articles:

Priced at $499, with a discounted route from HitFilm 2 Ultimate, Hit Film plug-ins are perhaps targeted to lower-end effects and NLE users in a comprehensive approach similar to more expensive packages from Boris or Genarts. Like Boris Effects, Hitfilm provides plug-ins similar to After Effects itself (Shatter, Radio Waves, etc), Red Giant (color), Trapcode (particles), Video Copilot (flares), aescripts+aeplugins and others (grunge, damage, etc) — but at a reduced price and scope. It does add needed tools to After Effects, though only if you don’t already own 3rd-party plug-ins.

Without special sale pricing (seen recently if briefly), HitFilm plug-ins compete by price against vaguely similar offerings from FxFactory and Red Giant (Universe), both of whom entice new users with free plug-ins. It’s not all repetition, since HitFilm does target specific tasks like three-strip color process, light leaks, witness protection, and others, which is useful when you don’t want to roll your own effects. One of the more interesting aspects of using the plug-ins is Sony Vegas integration through HitFilm 2 Ultimate. For example, users can create a 3D model animation in HitFilm 2 Ultimate, then import that project file to Vegas for final grading with HitFilm plugins.

While not always tuned as well as AE-native effects, Hitfilm plug-ins sometimes have extra controls — and can be used in Premiere (unlike the CyCore CC effects), which is actually very handy.

Unlike AE’s native effects, all of the HitFilm plugins work in 16-bit mode and are GPU-accelerated. Unfortunately, there’s no import of 3D models, and the full 3D particle simulator — with multiple forces and deflectors for physics-based animation — remains a HitFilm 2 Ultimate exclusive. Atomic Particles, a 3D fractal array system akin to Trapcode Form is included. It’s fun of course, though it seems to need to be able to generate more particles to create finer detail. But it does come with audio-reactive controls

FxHome is good at building community and provides know-how with support tutorials (for example, 3D starfields from a fractal noise array). Here’s an example tutorial from the user community, Atomic Particles Tutorial: Energy Sphere from on Vimeo, who posted other interesting experiments noted by Lester Banks.

In After Effects, 3D plug-ins such as Gunfire (3D muzzle flashes), Atomic Particles, 3D Extrusion, and so forth, can be mapped to a 3D null which then interacts with AE cameras, in a similar way to how they behave in the HiFilm app. There’s no similar method in Final Cut Pro X though. The null transform isn’t always so quick to set up, but it lets you make use of the basic but fast 3D Extrusion filter with text, or with another effect like HitFilm Radio Waves.

As mentioned, the Hitfilm package contains color correction, grading, and clean-up tools, so check out the HitFilm clone stamp and pro skin retouch tools in action:


In Hitfilm 2 Ultimate: Is it the new “Production Premium”?, Rob Birnholz describes the HitFilm app as a capable if stripped-down Production Premium suite that you can own outright, something no longer offered by Adobe.

Oddly enough, HitFilm Plugins are more expensive than the HitFilm Ultimate app itself. Users coming mainly from After Effects may find too many similar effects, and even if AE knockoffs have unique features (like auto-animating Lightning), they may seem tuned oddly. But you’ll have to download the free trial to see for yourself if enough of the plug-ins are unique for you and how this package might fit in your workflow. If you’re looking for a broad but relatively inexpensive approach that will work on several platforms at once, HitFilm Plugins might fit the bill.


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Rich Young is a long-time After Effects user from the San Francisco Bay Area. His After Effects and Premiere Pro round-ups provide viewers with an easy-to-digest summary of developments. He also supplies info and links…

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