How to revert Dynamic Link with After Effects comp to original clip

A disabled copy of the clip above the dynamically linked clip provides an "escape hatch"

A disabled copy of the clip above the dynamically linked clip serves as an "undo"

On the Creative Cow Premiere Pro Basics forum, editor Gates Bradley ran into a common problem affecting Premiere Pro users that use After Effects via Dynamic Link.  Editor Jacob Kerns had the issue in the other Premiere Pro forum at Creative Cow. James Graham had the same issue on that forum, as well. This seems to be a common misunderstanding among Premiere Pro editors.

What is Dynamic Link first of all? Dynamic Link is the protocol that is used to translate clips and sequences between Adobe Premiere Pro, Encore, and After Effects. For example, you could replace a clip with an After Effects composition directly in the Premiere Pro timeline. The problem is that Gates and other users wish to get the Premiere Pro timeline back to its original state: before the clip was dynamically linked to an After Effects comp.

Why would he want to do this? After all, After Effects is the epitome of powerful software for video compositing. Well, there are times when you’ve gone far down the path of using After Effects with dynamically linked clip(s), and then you change your mind. Perhaps you wish to keep things simpler and rework the effect in Premiere Pro. Maybe you weren’t aware of the lowered playback performance of a dynamically linked After Effects comp in a Premiere Pro timeline. It’s also possible that a client comes in with a change that forces you to alter the shot well after you’ve started the project. For these cases (and others not mentioned here), you’ll sometimes need more than a simple “undo”, you’ll need a strategy to get you out from under Dynamic Link if you need to. Let’s take a look at some of the techniques to help you get there.

First and foremost, if you are working in a current project, you can simply choose Edit>Undo back in Premiere Pro after sending a clip to After Effects via Replace with After Effects Composition. Simple. The clip will be restored to its original state.

If you are beyond Edit>Undo, you can try one of the following:

  • Jeff Greenberg and Alex Udell offer that you can Edit>Copy the clip in After Effects and then Edit>Paste it back into the Premiere Pro timeline.
  • Tom Daigon recommends that you copy and paste the clip to an upper video track (and then go to Clip>Disable to turn it off) to act as a safety before you send the original clip to After Effects via Dynamic Link.
  • Ann Bens advises you to create a copy of the clip in the Project Panel for later use.
  • I suggest that you can delete the After Effects composition from the timeline, perform a matchframe using the audio portion of the clip, perform a mark clip, and then overwrite the clip back into the timeline.

With these pointers, you’re sure to be able to restore your timeline to its original state. Thanks to Colin Brougham, Jeff Greenberg, Alex Udell, Tom Daigon, and Ann Bens for their input on this topic.

14 Responses to How to revert Dynamic Link with After Effects comp to original clip

  1. This should for sure be a feature added in for CS6. Add the option “Revert back to Original Clip” on the right click menu.

  2. kmonahan says:

    Hi Carlos, please make a feature request if this is something you’d like to see in Premiere Pro: Link is here:

  3. You can export your after affects project as a Premiere Pro Project . open the newly created PPRo Project . select the sequenz hit edit/copy. close the project. Open your old PPro Project. and Paste it back in .

  4. Muf says:

    I admire your courage, Kevin, to publicly state that this isn’t possible with your full name on the Adobe site. If I were an Adobe employee, I would be deeply ashamed to have to report on such a blatant oversight. Kind of like a Ford engineer admitting that their new car has a forward gear, but they forgot to put in the reverse gear.

    I like to colour grade in AE and for GoPro footage I use the lens correction feature to change the fisheye perspective into rectilinear. My AE projects are 1:1 frame compatible with the original source footage, so in theory I should be able to switch back and forth between the AE and the original file, as on the one hand the original footage is much easier to work with as it previews in realtime, scrubbing the timeline is much faster, but on the other hand the AE has the “final look”, but lags and stutters and locks up Premiere intermittently while navigating around the timeline.

    The above suggestions really do not work at all. To stick with the car analogy, it’s as useful as saying “if you turn around, it’s practically the same as driving in reverse!” I would really like to know if this silly bug has been fixed in CS6 or if we have to wait another year for CS6.5.

    • kmonahan says:

      Adobe is a company that likes to be honest with its customers, so we aren’t afraid of stating our shortcomings. That said, After Effects and Premiere Pro get thousands of feature requests, and request for enhancements. It is impossible to satisfy everyone, as I’m sure you’re well aware.

      To avoid “locking up” Premiere with AE comps in your Timeline, you can render the comps. Personally, I use Replace with After Effects Comp as only a temp solution. If I’m confident I’ll continue using the comp, I’ll just render out the file and edit it into place.

      I’m not sure exactly how you’d like the feature to work. If you wouldn’t mind, fill out an feature request to let us know:

      • Muf says:

        The only thing it needs to do is make it so that the “Replace footage” feature remains available after having replaced footage with an AE comp. I’m not talking about “Replace with After Effects Composition” from the timeline, but “Replace footage…” from the project view. As it stands not even undo works after that operation! You have to load a backed up project if you change your mind.

        This is the documented way of working with proxies in Premiere (you can have MP4/MOV proxies of cumbersome uncompressed videos, and swap them back when you’re done editing), yet it becomes unavailable as soon as AE gets involved at all.

        That’s kind of why I expressed myself so strongly about it, because I really don’t consider it a feature but a bugfix. You expect something to work but for no properly explained reason it stops working.

  5. kmonahan says:

    Thanks for your feedback. Please fill out that feature request form so we can add your voice to this issue.

  6. qmunikate says:

    I wish I had read this forum before adding an AE link in this particular project. I made the link with 8 shots in my Premiere timeline concurrently as a an effects sequence. Client doesn’t really get what we did so we need to revert. AAAAGgggg! The footage scenes are of long, repetitive machinery sequences and took a long time to get the cut just so.

    No “revert to original” means no happy campers here. It seems such a simple thing. ‘send clips back to whence they came’. Seems AE should have this ‘send back’ option.

    Anyway, learned my lesson well and will create a copy prior to creating the less-than-dynamic link.

    Without being totally negative, I do TOTALLY love the feature and is brilliant with most revisions immediately mastering!!

    • qmunikate says:


      In Premiere, although the clip has “gone” from timeline and replaced with the AE link, Premiere still denotes the clip in the bin as being used AND if you double click it into your clip window, the IN/OUT points are still there. OH SWEET MAMA!!!

      This is more than a week after making the Dynamic link so it’s not still there as an “UNDO” option in case you’re wondering. So, the fact that Premiere remembers the clips and denotes them with the “film” icon as being used in the timeline, means to “revert” should NOT be that hard a fix right. Anyway, discovering this has made us Happy Campers once more. The re-construction was simple.

      P.S. I’m in CS5.

  7. William Harris says:

    I simply imported ae comps into my timeline from the beginning tried to edit and realized that AME could not render out the final edit due to shear heavyness. I rendered out all the AE comps to AVI. I wan to simply replace all the comps in the bin with avi’s so i can SEE my work. I thought this was going to be simple. All editing programs in the universe can do this. Except the GREAT LAME.