Videomaker – Learn video production and editing, camera reviews › Forums › General › Video and Film Discussion › special FX › DVine, Smoke isn’t really
Smoke isn’t really a compositing program, it’s mostly and editing and finishing system if I recall correctly. And to imply that AE isn’t a professional program is just mistaken. It is the professional TV/Video industry standard for motion graphics, and has been for many years.
Of the programs that Dvine mentioned the only one that is probably in your price range is Combustion. Like After Effects, it retails for around 1k I believe. If you are on the MAC platform an alternative to both of these is Apple Shake, which goes for about half that price. The other applications on the list are not considered software solutions but dedicated turnkey hardware systems and are usually measured in the tens of thousands of dollars.
I have used both after effects and combustion in the past. After Effects is not really a full featured compositing program, it is a motion graphics program with compositing features. If you want to create on air graphics of any kind then AE is the professional standard period end of story. In addition you can perform compositing, color correction, motion tracking and image stabilization as well.
Combustion on the other hand is a full-featured compositing application with motion graphics features. Combustion features the Discreet keyer, this is the same keying tech that is used on their higher end solutions like Flame. Combustion is really geared to be a competing product to AE, and also a bridge for the higher end solutions, in fact it used to be the paint program for Flame.
They have two very different ways of working, and I couldn’t say one is completely better than the other, they really are geared towards different areas of the same environment. Keep in mind that they are both really major pieces of professional software that will require a major effort to become proficient at and are not intended to be plug and play solutions to your issue.
If muzzle flashes and color correction is all you want the program for you might want to check out lower end/non-pro software that does that. I remember that there were threads a while back listing several programs for creating muzzle flashes and your editing system should be able to do color corrections.