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How to Use Dynamic Link to Share Projects Between Premeire Pro and After Effects

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In this lesson, you will learn how to use Adobe's dynamic link feature to get your project or even parts of your project over to After Effects for additional graphics, animation, colour correction, grading, and more.

Adobe Dynamic Link

Adobe Dynamic Link is found under the File menu. With Dynamic Link, you can:

  • Create a New After Effects Composition
  • Replace with After Effects Composition
  • Import an After Effects Composition from another project

We will focus on Replace With After Effects Composition feature in this tutorial. 

Replace With After Effects Composition 

In this example, we have a stack of three clips, each with skateboarders doing tricks. The goal is to use them to create a side-by-side three-panel shot. This can be done in Premiere, but it would be a lot faster to do in After Effects using dynamic linking. In dynamic linking, we open these three clips over in After Effects, and then have Premiere basically live-update any changes that are made in After Effects.

To get started, right-click on these three clips or even a single clip, and then choose Replace With After Effects Composition.

 Replace With After Effects Composition. Replace With After Effects Composition. Replace With After Effects Composition.

After Effects will load up and ask you to save the project, which you definitely should. You should also probably save the project in the same location as your Premiere Project, maybe even in the same kind of folder structure. It doesn't have to live right next to your Premiere project.

After Effects will import those clips automatically and put them inside a composition that's the same length as the original clip. If you go back to Premiere, you can see that now those three clips are gone, and what's in their place is a dynamic linked media item.

dynamic linked media itemdynamic linked media itemdynamic linked media item

Organising the Clips in After Effects

In After Effects, we are going to create three new shape layers and name them Center Matte, Right Matte, and Left Matte. Then we'll bring up the alignment window and align the three to the left, right, and centre. 

aligning the layersaligning the layersaligning the layers

You are going to use these three layers as track mattes. So drag them down above the footage layers, and then select all of the footage layers, and set them to Alpha Matte.

select all of the footage layers, and set them to Alpha Matte.select all of the footage layers, and set them to Alpha Matte.select all of the footage layers, and set them to Alpha Matte.

Lock the matte layers so that they can't be moved around. Now position the three layers in the background so that they are each positioned within one of the matte frames. 

position the three layers in the backgroundposition the three layers in the backgroundposition the three layers in the background

Applying a TriTone Effect in After Effects

Next, you can use the TriTone Effect in After Effects, which is a stock After Effects effect, and give each clip its own unique colour palette. So maybe make the left one orange, the right one green, and the centre one purple. Pretty cool. 

give each clip a colour palettegive each clip a colour palettegive each clip a colour palette

Now Save and go back to Premiere to check the results.

 Save and go back to Premiere to check the results. Save and go back to Premiere to check the results. Save and go back to Premiere to check the results.

Render and Replace

Now, depending on what you are doing in After Effects, you can see that this clip may be showing up red on the timeline. 

clip showing up red on the timeline. clip showing up red on the timeline. clip showing up red on the timeline. 

That means that there are no cached frames, and it might not play back in real time depending on the capacity of the system you are using. For example, if you are on a mobile system or a system that's a couple of years old, dynamic linking in After Effects will work, but you may find that the effects that you're using in After Effects may not play in real time.

The way that you get around that is to click on your clip and then choose Render and Replace. The Render and Replace window will open and offer some options. Leave the Source on Individual Clips, Format on QuickTime, and for Preset, use the GoPro CineForm or ProRes. format. For Destination, you can choose Next to Original Media, or you can browse and save wherever you like. Hit OK, and this is basically going to render that out and replace it in the timeline.

Render and Replace window optionsRender and Replace window optionsRender and Replace window options

And now you can see that portion of the timeline has turned from red to yellow, and the clip will play nice and smoothly, like any other clip.

Replace Clip With Bin

The only caveat here is that now, if you change anything in After Effects, the clip won't update anymore. However, once you've made your changes, you can just replace the clip with the updated one by right-clicking on the clip and choosing Replace Clip With Bin, and that will replace it with the updated After Effects media item.

Replace Clip With BinReplace Clip With BinReplace Clip With Bin

Create a New After Effects Composition

Let's look at creating a new After Effects composition by going to File > New After Effects Composition

new After Effects compositionnew After Effects compositionnew After Effects composition

We'll add some text to this. If we jump back to Premiere, you can see that it updates there.

 add some text  add some text  add some text

Now, you wouldn't create a new After Effects composition just to create some text in Premiere, because you can do that with the Essential Graphics panel a lot more easily. You would only use this feature if you wanted to create all kinds of cool animation effects with your text that are not available in Premiere and have them live update in Premiere.

Editing the New After Effects Composition From Premiere

The cool thing about using text for this kind of dynamic linked workflow is that if you have your clip selected in the Premiere timeline, you can go over to the Effects Controls and jump over to the Master Tab, and change the text that was created in After Effects right in Premiere. This works even if you have multiple text layers, so it gives you a lot of flexibility.

Editing the New After Effects Composition From PremiereEditing the New After Effects Composition From PremiereEditing the New After Effects Composition From Premiere

This was a simple example, but the important principle to remember is that anything you can do in After Effects, you can do in this dynamically linked way.

Once a project is linked dynamically, you don't even need After Effects to remain open for this to work. Nor do you have to open up After Effects every time you open up your Premiere project.

And anytime you want to make a change, you can just right-click on the clip and choose Edit Original, and it'll fire up After Effects, so you can get to work on making your updates.

Organisation and Composition Naming

If you're going to be sending a lot of stuff over to After Effects to do a whole bunch of different dynamically linked compositions, you want to be sure to create an organisational structure for your files in After Effects so you know where everything is.

Also, any names that you change after a file has been created in After Effects do not update in Premiere even after you save your files, so you need to jump back to Premiere and replace part of the file there with the name of your composition from After Effects so you can keep things well labelled and organised. 

More Premiere Pro Resources

Here are more top Premiere Pro tutorials and resources to try from Envato Tuts+:

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