Will the future of After Effects in social media be reserved only for high-end production?

With a trend for media software to transition to browser-based self-served solutions, I wonder where After Effects is going to be in the next 10 to 15 years.

There’s no question in my mind that if you’re not doing crazy compositing or 3D modelling, at the moment After Effects is the way to go for motion graphics. Even with their steep pricing, designers who manage to get some work view it as an investment and the others just crack the software. (side note: There’s a direct correlation between how far people go to crack a piece of software and how unique it is as a solution.)

It feels like Adobe is so good that there’s no space for it. I am looking at the DaVinci Resolve editing capabilities, but for the moment I rarely see it as the main editing tool in any agency.


Unless you are working in high-end commercials, your life revolves around using this-and-that plug-ins (Mr. Horse anyone?), animating shapes, doing funky things with text and glitching things here and there.

If After Effects would be a person, it would barely need to lift a finger to do all of the above. Very few of us use After Effects at its maximum capability.

If we look at the current motion graphics trends, we can spot a pattern of bold, capitalized text, simple animation, bold colors, a lot of negative space, minimalist, pattern-based design.

Simply said, there can be an argument made that After Effects is too powerful for a lot of the social media content right now. Also, it has quite a steep learning curve and if you’re a small company looking to pump out content like there’s no tomorrow, doing very fancy stuff with it is counterintuitive for time saving purposes. For those who already learned After Effects, there’s no reason to change. But for those who need to learn it to make social media content? Hmm…

Now, that been said, I’m aware not everyone has this design style. But from what I’ve seen, there are enough companies to justify the existence of a self-serve product for this.

I can see it as something that a marketing executive or a product manager can drag and drop and reuse assets. Something that would shave off a small bit of the functionality of After Effects and sprinkle some drag and drop functionality and simplicity over it. (how many of After Effects’ effects do you REALLY use?)

And designers will scream that it will killing the market, commoditize good design, sacrifice the ideas and originality. And to a certain extend it’s true. Speed and accessibility will kill some of the potential. But as much as I would love to make the perfect piece of content, it’s good to throw some cold water on my face and realize that for some, hitting 70% of the original vision but delivering on time is good enough, because they need to have some gas left in the tank for the long game that social media is.

Maybe it’s something that After Effects makes as a product, or something that Canva adds as it branches out to conquer the browser-based content creation.


This pretty much eliminates the second part of my argument. However, I wonder why we don’t see it in the requirements section of jobs descriptions.


Shower thoughts:

Imagine if 15+ years from now, if we’re still doing motion by hand and it doesn’t become some self-automated process, the designer community will look at people who use After Effects the same way we look at those who use Nuke now.

If After Effects’ relevance might be in danger for social media, I don’t think Photoshop is going anywhere.

I wonder how many of the designers will end up becoming asset creators. I’ve already seen it in small teams of illustrators that offer high-quality assets for an annual subscription.

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