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5 Free/Open Source Apps to create Mind Blowing Motion Graphics

If you are a Motion Design artist, it is likely that you use Adobe After Effects or Apple Motion on a regular basis. But, there are many other applications that are professionally used and they produce mind blowing visuals. Some of them, might not be as easy to use as regular applications like After Effects/Motion, but there are many resources to get started. But, with the help of these applications, you can produce really unique and robust visuals. Along with the details of the Applications, I also included some of the famous works done by various artists using them.

Before you close this page, thinking that this post is nothing but a list of scripting/code related apps, I have to say that Processing is by far the most powerful yet easiest set of tools that allow to create wide variety of graphics from Interactive Kiosks to iTunes Visualizers.

Even though the learning curve is a little bit steep, especially for a person new to coding, it is more like a fusion of AE and Flash. It has the dynamic nature of Flash and the looks of After Effects. By default, it comes with numerous libraries including sound analysis. It is being rapidly adopted by various studios and institutions and has a very loyal user base. Check out their amazing Gallery. There are many books written on Processing to get you started right from the bare basics, but the Learning pages in the site are quite helpful too. Processing is a Cross Platform Open Source application distributed for Mac/Win/Linux.

2.Quartz Composer:
Actually Intended for developers, Quartz Composer(QC) is very famous for its simplicity & ease of use. It is a GPU accelerated visual programming tool that helps you create very dynamic and cool Core Image filters,Animations,Transition effects or iTunes Music Visualizers.

Honestly speaking, this Application left me spell bound when I first discovered it. This is the best example to show Apple’s quality and simplicity in their Apps. It is widely used by VJ’s all over the world along with third party Apps like VDMX. Quicktime & Safari have native capability to preview QC files, which means you need not have Quartz Composer installed to preview QC Compositions. Also, Quartz Composer allows you to create OpenGL shaders easily without having it to do in a low level programming language. But, here comes the most interesting part, Kineme has numerous patches and plugins which makes Quartz Composer a complete toolkit that analyzes audio, produces particle effects and Even Imports 3D Models and manipulates them. Kineme also has an offline renderer which produces highly Anti-Aliased renders, thus opening numerous possibilities for Motion Graphics. This application can do many things and it is truly impressive. You can create your own plugins for various Pro Apps like AE, Final Cut, Apple Motion using various 3rd Party Tools like Effect Builder AE , Fx Factory Pro , CHV-Plugins etc., There are many tutorials on Vimeo to get started and also the famous Rayz-O-Lite tutorial from DVCreators. Unfortunately, Quartz Composer is Mac Only.
How to install Quartz Composer
Also, check out Zugakousaku’s Amazing Quartz Composer Gallery
and the QuartzCompositions


moiré (piano and organ) from defetto on Vimeo.

VVVV is a toolkit of realtime video synthesis for Windows, very similar to Quartz Composer on Mac, but it is way powerful. It has a wide variety of features right from 3D Mesh manipulation, Audio synthesis, Realtime video synthesis. Contrary to Processing/Flash VVVV has a reputation of being used for Super High Quality Video Synthesis in Real time. There are many projects where visuals are generated at resolutions more than 4K at 60fps. Strukt widely uses VVVV for many of their projects.

Also, you can see amazing visuals in the Vimeo channel. On the downside, it is Windows only and it has a steep learning curve with limited resources. But the quality of the visuals produced by this toolkit surpasses all the other generative applications in real time. VVVV is free for Non-Commercial Use.


eMotion : presentation video from Adrien Mondot on Vimeo.

eMotion is primarily designed for text and particle based effects for both realtime and offline synthesis. Even though this Application is still in Alpha stages, it produces amazing typrography videos. eMotion’s Text and Particle tools kick AE’s and even Trapcode Particular’s ass. It’s force based physics simulations are way ahead of any particle system I have seen so far. Moreover, all these effects happen in real time and can be customized with wide range of settings and scripts. As it is in Alpha stage there might be some problems with the interface and usability but it is by far stable. If eMotion gains popularity, it will sure become a must have tool for any text/particle based effects. eMotion is free to download and Mac Only. There are some good tutorials on Vimeo to get you started.

Nodebox is another application which has a similar set of tools like Processing, but it is Python based. It is very easy to use and is actually intended for Graphic Design and Animation. It has many advanced features like built-in PDF, Quicktime,Fonts & CoreImage capabilities. There are many number of libraries available for download, and there are many resources to help you get started. But, it is widely believed that if you know Processing, it is easy to get around in NodeBox. Right Now, the stable version of Nodebox is available for Mac Only , while experimental versions are available for Windows and Linux.

These are some of the Applications that help you create really high quality visuals without using regular programs like After Effects or Motion. Also if you are interested in such applications, check out Subblue’s blog post on Fractal and Generative Art resources where he covers many other resources which aren’t related to motion design. Also I didn’t include Blender as a lot of people already use it and it is primarily intended for 3D design.
If you know any other Apps/Toolkits please list them in the comments, I will be happy to include.