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Edit Original – a “long lost” feature for Premiere Pro / After Effects workflows

We have a tendency to talk a lot about the benefits of the Dynamic Link function between Premiere Pro and After Effects, and it is a crazy cool feature. The first time you drop a comp from AE right onto the Premiere Pro timeline, without rendering it – well, it’s awe-inspiring.

Dynamic Link works by creating a sort of “frame server” in the background, and it serves up the AE comp frames into the Premiere Pro timeline. It works great for stuff you’ve RAM Previewed, or for smaller comps, like animated text.

But what about longer comps? Dynamic Link starts to break down a bit when comps get really complicated, or are longer than a few seconds (actual time depends on resolution and amount of RAM.) Let’s say I have a 5 minute comp in AE. Can I expect that to RAM Preview? Probably not. And you shouldn’t expect it to play real-time in Premiere Pro either. So, what to do?

Well, you could render a proxy in AE, or you could render the comp in Premiere Pro. These methods are viable, but not always the fastest.

There’s actually a workflow designed for situations like this, and it’s been around for so long, we tend not to talk about it enough. It’s called the Edit Original workflow. It works like this:

Create your comp in AE. When you’ve roughed it out enough to drop it into your edit, add it to the Render Queue.

In the Output Module, make sure the box is checked to Include Project Link, as shown below:

Make sure this box is checked.

Render out the file.

Now, in Premiere Pro, import the rendered file, and begin editing. You can close AE at this point, and just focus on editorial.

If/when you need to make changes to the comp, right-click on it in the Premiere timeline, and choose Edit Original:

Edit Original.

Premiere Pro will automatically launch After Effects, load the project file and comp that the clip came from. It’ll even place a new item in the Render Queue with the same pathing and name as the original file, so that, if you want to just replace the old media with the new, it’ll happen automatically. That way, your Premiere Pro timeline will update with the new media automatically.

(If you prefer to keep the original render, and make a new render, just append the file name – add an “02” to the name of the item in the render queue. You will need to import the new media into Premiere Pro, and option-replace the older clip. Or, to compare versions, stack it over the original clip in the timeline, and toggle the new clip on/off.)

This is the recommended workflow when dealing with long comps in AE, and it’s a handy workflow to be aware of – no hunting for the project file, no hunting for the source media, etc. As great as Dynamic Link is, it’s good to understand this option as well.

Special Thanks to Jon Barrie, who reminded me of this functionality while on the CS6 Road show in Australia this summer. Check out Jon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jon_adobe

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