Short answer: Motion!
Sometimes I get a question about what Motion is like, from a user of After Effects. If that’s you, I refer you to this, which is not quite an After Effects vs Motion article.
A few of the listed negatives of Motion (linked parameters, depth of field, shadows, reflections) have just been rectified in the latest update (Motion 4, in Final Cut Studio 3) so there’s no excuse for not checking it out. Yes, After Effects has the users and the plug-in support, but if you use FCP, you’ve already got Motion. This is a little like the situation when InDesign started to come with Photoshop and Illustrator — it’s free, it’s at least as good as Quark, so why spend another $1000?
Motion integrates so well with Final Cut Pro I can’t recommend building, for example, lower thirds with After Effects. Save anything from Motion as a template and you can access it from Generators within FCP, change the text in FCP, play back in realtime and render on final export. No need to manage separate render files and there’s just a single file to change if the title template needs an update. Awesome.
While I freely admit I haven’t done anything serious with After Effects in years now, I can do in Motion everything I used to do in AE and a whole lot more (text effects, FCP integration, particles, replicator) besides. There are a few things I’d like in the latest AE (3D models, Flash vector output) but they aren’t essential to my workflow.
PLUG: Of course, if you’re an FCP editor who doesn’t have time to figure out how to use either program, just buy one of my templates from motionally.com. 🙂