School of Motion

Dynamic Link: How to Connect Premiere Pro and After Effects

  • By Motion Array
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In this quick article we'll show you how to setup a dynamic link between Premiere Pro and After Effects.

Editors Note: The team at Motion Array was kind enough to share their video editing insights in this post. You can find more video editing and mograph tips over on their blog.
The role of a video editor is constantly growing. In addition to cutting together footage, great editors also need to be able to do a whole host of things previously designated to an animation department. Fortunately, you can connect Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects through a nifty feature called Dynamic Links. If you're an editor looking to implement motion design into your Premiere Pro sequences Dynamic Links are going to be your new best friend.
Even if you're just beginning your Premiere Pro editing journey, now is the great time to take the leap to After Effects. In this tutorial, we'll explain the differences between the two programs, when to use each, and how the two can work in harmony to create a workflow that will save time, money, and maybe your sanity.

Adobe Premiere vs After Effects: What’s the Difference?

When you first look at the interface for After Effects and Premiere, they will look remarkably similar: a player window, sequence, browser, and an effects tab. You might be fooled to think you can edit in either one, but you’d soon realize where the main difference lies.

Premiere Pro: A Quick Overview

While it does offer some animated text elements and transitions, Premiere Pro is primarily used for cutting, editing, and adjusting footage. The various edit panels allow the user a clean workflow from assembly to grading, and the timeline is constructed in a way that will enable a free and creative video editing process.
You would use Premiere to cut together your footage based projects: advertisements, music videos, and all manner of creative video editing projects. Premiere is also great for your audio, allowing you to edit, effect, and mix your project audio.

After Effects: A Quick Overview

After Effects is the go-to tool for motion graphics, compositing, and visual effects. There are a lot of built-in animation types, each of which has its own subset of options, so creating unique titles and animated elements in After Effects is much easier than in Premiere Pro.
The timeline in After Effects is very clunky for editing footage. Instead, the After Effects timeline focuses more on the keyframing of an individual element than cutting sequentially between them.
Keyframes are the points added to an element to indicate the start and end of an animation. You will use keyframes in Premiere when for example, you want to create an artificial slow zoom on a clip, but the key-framing sequence is hidden away and not particularly user-friendly. In After Effects, the keyframing is front and center, creating a much smoother workflow for motion graphics.
After Effects also has a host of effects, tools, and third-party support that makes it a beast for motion design and compositing work.

Using Dynamic Links

In the past, working between After Effects and Premiere required you to render and export one project before importing it into the other. If you’re a regular user, then you’ll be only too aware of how frustrating this used to be before things got simplified. Title sequences created in After Effects would need to be exported and imported into Premiere each time you needed to change it. Let's face it, this was not only a hugely annoying waste of time, but it also meant you ended up with numerous versions taking up valuable disc space.
Thankfully, those dark days are over with the sanity-preserving (and time-saving) Dynamic Link function which creates a link between the After Effects and Premiere project. Simply put, if you make a change to a title in After Effects, it will automatically update the element in Premiere. Once you've created a dynamic link between projects, the selected After Effects comps will appear in your Premiere browser as clips. Think of all the shows you'll now have the time to binge watch thanks to this handy little shortcut!

How to Set Up a Dynamic Link

If you've not already created an After Effects project to link to, you can create one from within Premiere.
1) In Premiere got to File > Adobe Dynamic Link > New After Effects composition
2) Name and save the project. It should become your standard practice to save the After Effects project to the same location as the Premiere project.
3) If you want to add another comp, simply repeat the process. It won’t ask you to name the project after the first time, and your comps will appear in your After Effects browser.

Linking to an Existing After Effects Project

If you have already created your motion graphics elements, you can still create a link to them. Don't worry; this will be easier the more organized you are in After Effects, you will need to make sure the comps you want to link to are named and organized into folders.
1) In Premiere got to File > Adobe Dynamic Link > Import After Effects composition
2) Locate the project in the file browser.
3) Select the comps you wish to import and click ok.

Adding & Amending Your Graphics

Once you have created your title in After Effects, you can locate the Dynamic Link comps in the browser and just drag and drop to your timeline as you would any other clip. See, easy
Now that you've created the link, you can flick back and forth between applications to edit your motion graphics as necessary. The dynamic link will update automatically and give you a much quicker playback.

Tips for Managing Dynamic Links

  1. Keep your After Effects project organized. It's easy to get carried away, not naming or filing your compositions, but organization is the key to having a clean and easy-to-navigate linked project.
  2. Keep both projects together. If you move either of the projects after they are saved you risk them going offline, you can relink them as you would any normal offline clip.
  3. If you're using a title project that you've downloaded or has been provided by someone else, open the project and familiarize yourself with the layout. Make notes of the comps you want to import before creating the dynamic link with Premiere.
  4. Keep a centralized After Effects project with all of your motion graphics in, so you can reuse text and icon animations between Premiere projects.
Although it might not feel like it to start with, learning to use After Effects is as challenging as it is rewarding. One big advantage of using the Adobe Dynamic Link is that you don’t need to know everything; it doesn't have to be a big scary change to your workflow. Instead, you can use the dynamic links to expand your motion graphics skills with each project.
Once you start creating motion graphics in After Effects, you will quickly see how much easier it is to create fantastic visuals than using Premiere Pro. Dynamic Links will dramatically save render and export time, so now that begs the question, what are you going to do with all that free time?
Motion Array is an all-in-one videographers marketplace with over 100,000 high-quality Premiere Pro and After Effects templates, along with more step-by-step guides to help you edit with confidence. Check them out for professional, creative, and easy-to-use products!