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natron vs after effects

Natron Vs. After Effects

Natron vs After Effects: the battle saga continues.

We use graphic design for school, work, marketing projects, or entertainment.

I bet you already posted a short-animated video in your Instagram profile.

This and even more can be done through motion graphics software.

Motion graphics software makes your life easier.

First of all, they are cost and time efficient.

You can easily create videos, graphics, and other animations in a short time because of their low complexity.

Plus, you could make attractive, personalized videos that can be shared easily across numerous social media apps.

So, don’t be shy to add your personal touch and stand out!

Today, there are various motion graphics software, such as:

  • Adobe After Effects
  • Cinema 4D
  • Adobe Premiere Pro
  • Mocha Pro
  • Natron
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Nuke
  • Blender
  • Maya
  • Houdini
  • Apple Motion, etc.

Here, we’ll be discussing and comparing two powerful motion graphic software: Natron vs After Effects.

Natron: Powerful Open-Source Compositing Software

natron vs after effects

Starting as a personal project, in 2013, Natron was awarded as the winner of a contest supported by Inria.

With this concludes a 12-month employment contract to make this software free and open-source within the institute.

Today, Natron is a powerful digital compositor.

Moreover, it is one of the most flexible cross platforms and open-source compositors for its visual effects and motion graphics community.

Natron can impressively deal with all your 2D/2.5D needs.

In large part of it, this software is influenced by some other digital compositing software such as Apple Shake, Blackmagic Fusion, Nuke, etc.,

With these influences, derives the user interface and many other concepts.

Besides, it allows its users’ creativity.

It helps to boost further with the flexible, multi-layered rotoscoping with stroke capability while rendering multiple graphs simultaneously.

Moreover, it uses 100% of your computer power and saves time by keeping all the views in the same stream.

Natron’s Keying Tools

Furthermore, Natron offers various keying tools for the fulfillment of its users’ production needs.

These tools will get everyone through their daily CG, as well as for the fulfillment of film compositing needs, a power curve, and a dope-sheet editor.

This software makes it easier in the market with the powerful 2D and planar tracker to track jobs while meeting personal and client deadlines.

Natron is fully compatible with all platforms such as Windows, Linux, and macOS.

It also supports many file formats such as EXR, TIFF, JPG, PNG, RAW, SVG, etc.

Last but not least, to run Natron, you need to have:

  • x86 compatible CPU
  • Windows 7, 8. x, or 10 with the latest updates
  • Mac OSx10.6 (Snow Leopard) or higher
  • Linux 2.6.32 and higher
  • Glibc 2.12 and higher
  • Iibgcc 4.4 and higher
  • OpenGL 2.0 or higher

To know more about its installation and maintenance, you can go to Natron’s user guide.

For more information about Natron, you can visit their website here.

Adobe After Effects: The Unique Feature Set Combination In One Motion Graphics Application

Created in 1993 and acquired by Adobe Systems in 1994, After Effects has come a long way.

It has its first two versions of the software with 53 released versions throughout the years, 4 of which are not developed by Adobe.

Adobe After Effects is a digital visual effect, motion graphics, and compositing application.

It comes with various uses, such as in post-production processes of video games, television production, and filmmaking. 

Adobe After Effects can take different roles depending on its user’s needs.

Saying that an animator might use the software for 2D cartoon characters or motion graphics, but a video editor might use it for editing and adding effects to titles.

It is a wonder how much one can do with a single software in terms of 2D and 3D animations, advanced video repairs, and special effects, no matter how big or small the project.

There is nothing impossible to make its users’ ideas move.

From animated titles, intros or transitions, moving an object from a clip, color adjustments, and many other unique effects.

After Effects is based on layers.

It works very well with non-linear editing systems such as Final Cut ProX or Avid Media Composed.

Not only those but also other third-party plugins like composition panel, effect browser, and timeline.

Furthermore, this motion graphic software comes as a hybrid between Adobe Photoshop and Premiere After Effects, with layers like the first, timeline, and keyframing like the second, but with many more extra tools.

After Effects Need the Following to Run:

  • A 64-bit processor (CPU)
  • A minimum of 8 GB of RAM (even though 16GB RAM is always recommended)
  • 1280×1080 Display on Windows
  • 1440×90 Display on macOS
  • Internet connection
  • Online registration for software activation
  • Validation of subscriptions and access to online services

For more information available on Adobe After Effects, you can visit Adobe’s website.

Natron vs After Effects

Natron is the ultimate and most convenient software for amateur videographers.

It has features such as:

  • fully-featured video editing software
  • built-in animation tool
  • a motion library
  • an animated clip library for simple animation
  • motion background and images
  • other clips from different programs

While, Adobe After Effects is one of the best alternatives for creating, compositing, and stylizing 2D footage layers in a 3D environment.

It has a unique feature set combination such as:

  • multiple options for background
  • transitions between images to more complex video effects
  • the ability to add video and audio together to come up with full-length movies
  • edit clips in the layers

Knowing what each software can do and how they work in general, let’s see some specific comparison topics.

Let us discuss the costs, market capture and experience, compatibility with the systems in circulation, digital compositing workflow, speed and stability, features, user interface, and customer support:


Natron has the biggest advantage between the two.

It is the fact that it is free software with stunning open-source OpenFX effects.

Anyone can be freely licensed to study, copy, use, or change the software.

Moreover, you can improve its overall design with the open-source code under the GLP2 license.

On the other hand, Adobe After Effects doesn’t give the user the opportunity of a permanent license.

You need to pay either US$20.99 per month for 20 GB of cloud-based storage for a personal website for your work portfolio or $52.99 per month as a part of the Creative Cloud.

Following the above stated, regarding the budget basket, we would give:

Natron 5/5

Adobe After Effects 4/5

Market Capture and Experience

Adobe After Effects has considerably more experience in the market than Natron, which has only eight years.

Adobe After Effects’ presence on the market is of more than 28 years.

Besides, being part of Adobe Systems has put the software in a favorable position.

Therefore, they are known in the fields of:

  • A market share of 2.2% in the Graphics & Photo Editing category
  • The largest segments of consumers in the industries of Computer Software (10%)
  • Higher Education (7%)
  • Marketing and Advertising (6%)

On the contrary, Natron is very popular among small-medium enterprises.

The software is used mostly in motion pictures and films, but it is not very used in big enterprises.

For a great presence on the market and higher market capture, we would give:

Natron 3/5

Adobe After Effects 5/5


Natron is compatible with numerous operating systems, as mentioned above.

Also, it has some low hardware requirements, such as 64 bits or 32 bits processor, a minimum of 3GB RAM, and a graphic card that supports OpenGL 1.5+.

Additionally, Natron software is compatible with the API for OpenFX 1.4.

So, the list of plugins from commercial developers or open-source developers is quite long.

Meanwhile, the compatibility of After Effects is narrower.

This software works on Windows 7, 8.1, and 10, as well as on macOS 10.11 (El Capitan), 10.12 (Sierra), or 10.13 (High Sierra).

On top of that, After Effects uses a lot of memory.

Therefore, the minimum requirement for RAM is 16GB.

However, if you aim for better performance, we recommend 32GB RAM.

For broader compatibility and lower hardware requirements, we would give:

Natron 5/5

Adobe After Effects 4/5

Digital Compositing Workflow

To start with, comparing Natron vs After Effects consists of the fact that Natron is a node-based software, while After Effects is a layer-based software.

Layer-based software is convenient for rapid 2D and 3D effects like the ones in motion graphics.

On the contrary, when it comes to highly complex composites, the workflow shifts to something awkward and time-consuming.

In reality, After Effects is a 2.5D environment, and the built-in 3D compositing is missing.

Having said that, when you want to do graphics faster or often work on motion graphics, After Effects is a great choice.

Moreover, the interconnection with Photoshop and Adobe Premiere makes this software even more attractive to its users and new ones.

Of course, when it comes to big complex projects, node-based software (Natron) is more flexible.

For this reason, the user can modify the parameters of a processing step of an earlier image while displaying the final composite.

Also, combined with the high availability of keying tools, as well as the opportunity to solve your problems, Natron might be a good choice to switch to.

That is when working on complex projects with high-end visual effects, music videos, or film sequences.

As mentioned above, under this category, we appreciate Natron.

It is a free, open-source node-based software when working on big projects.

While, After Effects is an easy interface layer-based software when working on less complex projects.

If that’s the case, we will go with:

Natron 5/5

Adobe After Effects 5/5

Speed and Stability

When it comes to comparing work speed, we could say that Natron is slightly quicker than After Effects.

This is due to Natron’s features such as:

  • real-time editing,
  • presets collection,
  • 2D and Planar tracker,
  • motion processing,
  • many community plugins (more than 250),
  • network rendering capabilities,
  • color correction options, etc.

On the other hand, Natron might be unstable with a heavy network, HD, or 4K footage compared to After Effects.

Even though After Effects still runs on heavy graphics and a lot of RAM, Adobe has done continuous work on improving this software’s stability throughout the years, making it more stable compared to Natron in general.

Having said so, under the category of speed and stability, Natron exceeds in terms of speed and Adobe After Effects exceeds in terms of stability, so we would give both software:

Natron 4/5

Adobe After Effects 4/5


Even though today, all the motion graphics software tries to supply the same basic feature, they also try to diversify their feature portfolio with new entries from time to time.

Here, we will list the features that Natron and Adobe After Effects offer to their respective users.

To illustrate, Natron’s features include:

  • flexible rotoscoping/roto painting
  • powerful keying tool
  • 2D and planar tracker
  • curve and dope-sheet editor
  • GPU and network rendering
  • OFX compatible
  • Shadertoy & G’MIC
  • community plugins
  • Python scripting
  • multi-plane
  • real-time playback
  • multi-view workflow
  • NatronRenderer

On the other hand, Adobe After Effects features include:

  • logo reveals
  • 3D compositing
  • title animation
  • motion tracking
  • object removal
  • stimulation effects
  • slideshow design
  • template creation
  • web design mockups
  • explainer videos
  • kinetic typography
  • UX/UI design mockups and VFX

As for the above stated, we would go a bit biased on Natron:

Natron 5/5

Adobe After Effects 4/5

User Interface

Natron’s user interface is similar to the one of Nuke’s software.

So if you’ve been a Nuke user, there won’t be any problem at all in adapting to Natron.

Also, Natron tried to adapt the user interface’s best features from other software such as Blackmagic Fusion, Apple Shake, Avid Media Illusion, etc., making it easier for a wider range of users.

Adobe After Effects has a simpler and more intuitive interface.

You can have higher control once you’ve been working on this software for a while, but it might be intimidating for a beginner user.

On the other hand, sometimes, the timeline interface can be problematic since it is too cluttered and every feature is jammed into the timeline.

As for the user interface category, we are favoring Natron a little bit more:

Natron 4/5

Adobe After Effects 3/5

Customer Support

Customer support is very advanced for Adobe After Effects since it has:

  • good follow-ups
  • quick resolutions
  • a large knowledgeable team
  • immediate help available
  • quick intel response
  • more accessible communication with the support team

On the contrary, the same can’t be said for Natron customer support because it has very few ways to get the desired support, starting from the limited options on the software’s official webpage (just chat support).

Under the customer support category, we would definitely go for Adobe After Effects:

Natron 2/5

Adobe After Effects 5/5

Export Options

When it comes to graphic design software, one of the most important considerations is the ability to export files in a wide range of formats.

This is particularly true when working on collaborative projects or with clients who may require specific file formats.

So, when it comes to Natron vs After Effects, let’s take a look at the export options available and which program offers more flexibility and support for different file formats.

Export Options in Natron

Natron is open-source software that offers a wide range of export options.

Users can export their projects as image sequences, videos, or animated GIFs.

In addition, Natron supports various codecs, including H.264, ProRes, and AVI.

The software also allows users to customize the resolution, frame rate, and aspect ratio of their exports.

This level of flexibility makes it easier for users to create files that meet the specific requirements of their projects.

Export Options in After Effects

After Effects, on the other hand, offers a similarly comprehensive range of export options.

Users can export their projects as video files, image sequences, or animated GIFs.

The software supports a range of codecs, including H.264, ProRes, and QuickTime.

Additionally, After Effects allows users to customize the resolution, frame rate, and aspect ratio of their exports.

However, some users have reported issues with certain file formats, particularly when working with high-resolution projects.

Flexibility and Support for Different File Formats

In terms of flexibility and support for different file formats, both Natron and After Effects offer a wide range of options.

However, Natron’s open-source nature and robust codec support may make it more appealing for users who need to work with a variety of file formats.

Additionally, Natron’s ability to export animated GIFs is a unique feature that is not available in After Effects.

It is worth noting, however, that the export options available in both programs may be affected by the plugins and add-ons that users have installed.

Certain plugins may add additional export options or modify existing ones.

So, it is important to consider the specific requirements of your projects and the plugins that you are using.

Both programs offer a comprehensive range of options that allow users to customize the resolution, frame rate, and aspect ratio of their exports.

However, Natron’s open-source nature and robust codec support may make it more appealing for users who need to work with a variety of file formats.

Ultimately, the best choice will depend on the specific requirements of your projects and the features and capabilities that are most important to you as a user.

Natron 4/5

After Effects 4/5

Natron vs After Effects: Feel Free To Decide For Yourself!

To conclude, we have evaluated some specific categories that might be important to the general user.

According to the points delivered to each category, for the compared software (Natron vs After Effects), the results are:

Natron 37 points in total

Adobe After Effects 38 points in total

As you can see, the difference in rating points is not much.

Generally, because these two software’s core is built well enough to deal with various works and projects, those small details position one or the other better or worse.

Once you get used to working with After Effects, you might find it difficult to shift to Natron.

But once you start exploring node-based compositing, you’ll be so intrigued that you won’t shift away from Natron. 

Final Thoughts

So, Natron vs After Effects, which do you prefer?

Both software has significant advantages and some disadvantages too.

The decision of which one to choose depends mainly on the user preferences, individual character, economic conditions, and the type and size of the project they’re working on.

On the one hand, After Effects is quite a thing in the world of motion graphics software.

Nonetheless, Natron is also a rising star for the open-source ecosystem following two other great node-based software such as Nuke and Fusion.

If you’re a natural learner, always eager to study and understand every feature of digital compositing in detail.

And if you don’t care a lot about fancy templates and similar staff, then Natron might be suited for you.

Likewise, if you don’t mind the budget issues at all or working on layers.

And if you are more for flexibility and scalability in general, aiming towards advanced video effects, automatic filters, virtual reality elements, 3D editing features, and a whole combined set of other features, then Adobe After Effects might be your choice.

At the end of the day, it is you who will decide which way to go based on your priorities, how you want to work, and the kind of project you’re working on.

Best of luck!

Did you like this article on Natron vs After Effects?

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