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What is color efex pro for after effects?

Color Efex Pro is a powerful photo editing plugin for Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom, and After Effects. It provides a comprehensive set of filters, effects, and controls to quickly enhance the look and feel of your photos and videos. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into what Color Efex Pro is, its key features and benefits, and how it can be used with After Effects specifically.

Overview of Color Efex Pro

Color Efex Pro is developed by Nik Software, a Google company. It offers over 55 high-quality photographic filters that allow you to quickly add stunning effects to your images. From vintage looks to dramatic black and white conversions, selective focus to stylized details, Color Efex Pro provides an arsenal of professional photographic enhancements.

Some of the key filter categories in Color Efex Pro include:

  • Color filters – Add warming, cooling, cross-processing or black and white effects.
  • Tonal filters – Enhance contrast, detail, vibrance or apply powerful dynamic exposure effects.
  • Photo filter effects – Mimic the look of lens filters like graduated ND filters or night vision.
  • Detail extractor – Bring out fine details for a polished look.
  • Diffusion – Soft focus, glows, glamour glow and soft contrast effects.
  • Film lab – Emulate films, toning, vignetting and grain effects.
  • Image borders – Add customizable borders and edges.
  • Light effects – Realistic bokeh, sunlight and night vision simulations.

Color Efex Pro enables non-destructive editing, allowing you to stack multiple filters while preserving your original image. It also supports batch processing to automate enhancement across multiple photos.

Using Color Efex Pro with After Effects

While Color Efex Pro is not specifically made for After Effects, it can be easily used alongside it to enhance footage and motion graphics.

Here are some of the key ways Color Efex Pro can be used with After Effects:

  • Apply filters to still images – Enhance photos in Photoshop then import into After Effects.
  • Edit video frames – Apply filters to exported still frames then re-import.
  • Create textured backgrounds – Build custom textures and backgrounds.
  • Add realistic camera effects – Mimic lens filters or film looks.
  • Quickly stylize footage – Try the vintage, black & white and cross process filters.
  • Bring out details – Use detail extractor for sharper imagery.
  • Build transitions or overlays – Use diffusions, textures and light effects.
  • Correct color and exposure – Get consistent tone and coloring across clips.

The seamless interaction between Photoshop and After Effects makes using Color Efex Pro effects straightforward. Once applied to your still images, it’s easy bring them into your After Effects project.

Key Features and Benefits

Here are some of the core features and advantages of using Color Efex Pro for enhancing your video and motion graphics projects:

  • 55+ photographic filters – Get extensive creative options from vintage to stylized effects.
  • Layered filtering – Stack multiple filters for unique hybrid effects.
  • Filter recipes – Save combinations of filters for consistent effects.
  • Selective adjustment – Use U-point technology for local adjustments.
  • Non-destructive editing – Revert to original image at any time.
  • Works with Smart Objects – Re-edit effects anytime in Photoshop.
  • Flexible batch processing – Automate enhancement of multiple images.
  • RAW file conversion – Improved editing control from RAW files.
  • Lens correction – Auto alignment, chromatic aberration and vignette fixing.

With this robust set of tools specially tailored for photography, Color Efex Pro can help you quickly polish and stylize your footage in After Effects. The fine control over adjustments also lets you create custom backgrounds, textures and effects.

Top 5 Filters for After Effects

While the possibilities are endless with 55+ filters, these 5 Color Efex Pro filters are particularly useful when working in After Effects:

1. Bi-Color Filters

The Bi-Color filters allow you to add two-toned color effects. For example, the Monday Morning Sepia effect mimics a vintage matte and glossy sepia look. This can be great for creating vintage footage, flashback scenes or dream sequences when used in After Effects.

2. Black & White Conversion

Convert footage to black and white while maintaining subtle toning and contrast. The BW conversions provide more realistic effects than the default controls in After Effects. The IR B&W filter, for example, can transform your footage into a simulated infrared black and white look.

3. Detail Extractor

The detail extractor is ideal for adding sharpness and bringing out fine details in your footage. It’s great for creating polished looking backgrounds, graphics and textured elements in your AE project.

4. Diffusion Filters

Soft focus, glow, Orton effects and glamour glow filters are handy for creating atmospheric footage and transitions in After Effects. Soft contrasts can also be used for a subtle cinematic effect.

5. Graduated Filters

Graduated filter effects mimic glass gradient filters used in photography. This lets you selectively enhance parts of a frame such as brightening a skyline. When used creatively, graduated filters can add intrigue and focus the viewer’s eye in your AE compositions.

How to Use Color Efex Pro with After Effects

While Color Efex Pro doesn’t directly integrate with After Effects, you can easily use them together by following these steps:

Applying Filters to Still Images

  1. Open image/s in Photoshop
  2. Access Color Efex Pro from the Filter > Nik Collection menu
  3. Select one or more filters to apply
  4. Save the enhanced image from Photoshop
  5. Import the saved image file into After Effects

Editing Single Video Frames

  1. Export a frame from your AE composition (Composition > Save Frame As)
  2. Open the frame in Photoshop
  3. Apply Color Efex Pro filters to enhance the still image
  4. Save the edited frame
  5. Re-import the saved still image back into your AE project

This allows you to selectively enhance a single frame. You can repeat the process across multiple frames if needed.

Batch Processing Multiple Files

  1. Render and export still image sequences from After Effects
  2. Use the Color Efex Pro batch processing controls to apply filters across multiple images
  3. Re-import the enhanced image sequence into After Effects

For workflows involving many images, batch processing can automate and speed up enhancement.

The key is using Photoshop as the bridge between Color Efex Pro and After Effects. This provides seamless transfer of your enhanced imagery.

Creative Examples and Ideas

To give you ideas and inspiration, here are just a few examples of how Color Efex Pro can be used creatively in After Effects projects:

  • Custom transition textures – Using filters like French Roast or Gritty Business to make grungy, textured transitions between clips.
  • Selective desaturation – Removing color from just parts of a frame for a stylistic effect. Works well on skin tones.
  • Thriller look – Combining Bi-Color and Vignette filters to create a creepy, thriller style appearance.
  • Retro sci-fi title – Use filters like Monday Morning Sepia on your titles to give a retro, 70’s sci-fi look.
  • Day for night shot – Converting a daytime clip into a simulated nighttime look using Gradient and Black & White filters.
  • Gritty flashback – Use textured vintage filters like Old Photo and Gritty Business to flashback to another time period.
  • Selective sharpening – Apply Detail Extractor locally to make part of the footage crisper and more focused.
  • Lens flare effects – Use the Center and Sunshine filters to add realistic lens flares, rays and anamorphic effects.

The versatility of Color Efex Pro means there are endless options for stylizing your AE work. Try stacking filters in creative combinations to explore new effects.


In summary, Color Efex Pro brings an arsenal of over 55 powerful photographic filters to enhance footage used in After Effects. With control over texture, color, contrast, blur and lighting effects it can help stylize and breathe new life into your motion graphics and video projects.

By using it in combination with Photoshop, you can easily apply filters to still imagery, single frames, or batch process sequences of exported frames from After Effects. This provides limitless creative possibilities without affecting your original source footage.

So if you’re looking for creative ways to quickly make your AE work stand out, Color Efex Pro is a valuable addition to your toolkit. The range of professional, highly customizable filters can help add striking effects in very little time.

Filter Category Useful for…
Bi-Color Filters Vintage, retro, styled footage
Black & White Conversions Realistic monochrome effects
Detail Extractor Sharpening and bringing out detail
Diffusion Filters Atmospheric glows and soft focus
Graduated Filters Selective exposure and tonal adjustments

This summarizes some of the most useful Color Efex Pro filters for enhancing your After Effects work.