Red Giant Software
Let's just start with the leading and best known company, Red Giant Software. Red Giant Software was founded in 2002 by industry veterans to develop and distribute special effects tools for digital video & film professionals. They've developed some of the coolest plugins on the market like Peder Norrby's Trapcode Particular
and Magic Bullet Looks
RE:Vision is a company that provides end-user software tools in the form of plug-ins and add-ons to many popular compositing, NLE and 3D applications. They've developed unique plug-ins like
ReelSmart Motion Blur which automatically adds a more natural-looking motion blur effect to a sequence and Twixor Pro for Great Slow- or Fast Motion effects.
3Dar is actually not a Plugin Company But a Visual Effects Studio.
but they developed a great plug-in for motion
blur with RPF Files, called RPF Motion Blur, which of course is used with 3D programs.
Frischluft creates great plug-ins For After Effects, I especially like the Lenscare Plugin, it creates very realistic DOF effects which are great for VFX as well as Motion Graphics. Frischluft was founded in 2002 by Philipp Spöth.
Video Copilot is a progressive web presence offering high quality tools for motion graphics and visual effects artists. Video Copilot's Twich plugin has become quite well know, and there is much anticipation for the upcoming Plug-in Optical Flares.
The Foundry is a leading developer of visual effects and image processing technologies that boost productivity and workflow in film and video post production. We all know Keylight, but The Foundry also has 4 Plugin Collections called Tinderbox and a new great plugin called RollingShutter.
Fnord software is a small software boutique creating graphics software primarily for Mac. Though they don't have many plug-ins, one I like is Power Picker, which allows you to have the Adobe Color Picker in the UI.
Digieffects is a developer of popular software plug-ins for Adobe After Effects, Apple Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro and Autodesk Combustion.
They have a couple of great plug-ins, but the best by far is FreeForm AE.
FXhome is a leading developer and consultancy firm, specialising in video and photo products, web design and third party solutions. They primarily built little VFX programs, but they also have 2 plug-ins for After Effects: PowerPlug, for creating lightning, and MuzzlePlug, for creating muzzle flashes.
Wondertouch, headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., is an award-winning software developer specializing in particle effects for the visual effects industry. Yes, the creators of ParticleIllusion now have a plug-in for After Effects: pIllusion AE, which is basically just ParticleIllusion for AE. (Coming Soon)
Jawset is a company that creates plug-ins for After Effects and Cinema 4D. So far they only have one After Effects Plugin, TURBULENCE.2D which creates cool fire simulations. This plug-in is more for Motion Graphics than VFX, since it is really hard to get very realistic fire.
ABSoft develops different technologies, but they also have a great After Effects plug-in called Neat Video. It removes visible noise from any kind of footage and hardly loosing any quality and I think it's pretty affordable!
GenArts, Inc. is the premier provider of VFX software for the film, broadcast and video industries. Their After Effects plug-in set called Sapphire has more over 200 plug-ins. They allow you to buy this set as a whole or individually as well as the option to pay a flat rate or rent them on a monthly basis.
Ultimatte is an award-winning software and hardware developer that focuses on luma keying. There After Effects plug-in, AdvantEdge, is great for keying, however, seeing as how it's more expensive then the host program itself, it has a limited reach for the average AE user.
Of course it's always nice when you can create something in After Effects that looks great... but sometimes we need a little extra help to to get that perfect result. We talk about plug-ins all the time and there are a ton to choose from! Hopefully this roundup can provide some clarity to know who makes what.