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xtatik222k10 karma

An industry-standard package you should look into is Nuke, by the Foundry. It's becoming more and more widely used every day in VFX. It's a much more open and versatile piece of software than AE (Don't get me wrong, I love AE, it's great for motion graphics and simple compositing) because the assets you use are node-based rather than layer based. You know how you can connect nodes in a myriad of different ways using the Hypershade in Maya? The same is true for Nuke, so you can extract and merge different elements in a completely non-destructive workflow. It's a compositor's dream.

edit* For the sake of interest, here is a showreel video of some NUKE-based work: