Tutorial: Adobe Dynamic Link
Posted Apr 25, 2006

When companies like Adobe, Apple, or Avid bundle their postproduction tools in "Studio" suites, there are two key selling points: price and integration. Price is a given; you can always get significant savings if you go for the packaged deal instead of buying each of the tools separately.

But integration is another story. How well do the tools work together? Are there similarities in the interfaces, such that if you learn one you'll have an easy time mastering the rest? Even more important is the ability to move a project fluidly from one to the others without having to open and close different applications and render in between as you would if you mixed and matched tools from different vendors such as Sony Vegas and Adobe Encore, or Avid Liquid and Adobe After Effects. Adobe has arguably taken this type of suite integration—seamless interplay between applications—farther than anyone else to date with the recently released Adobe Production Studio, thanks in large part to one key new feature: Dynamic Link.

Dynamic Link is a way to create links between different applications within the Adobe Production Studio so that you can create content in one application and use it in another without rendering. Dynamic Link is one of those features that many people have always wanted, and now that it is here, I am thrilled! I must add that this is a feature that works only with the Production Studio, and that it is not included with the upgrade of individual software applications. You can take advantage of Dynamic Link only when you install the software as a collection.

Dynamic Link exists between Premiere Pro and After Effects and also between Encore DVD and After Effects. This is how it works: you can open or create an After Effects composition from within Premiere Pro or Encore DVD, make use of the vast variety of presets that After Effects offers (or create your own motion graphics), and then have this composition appear in your Premiere Pro or Encore DVD project. Once in Premiere Pro (or Encore DVD), this After Effects composition will look like a clip and you will not have to render it as a separate clip in After Effects in order to use it. The best part is that you can make changes to your composition in After Effects and the Dynamic Link clip will be updated automatically. In the past, we had to render the movie file again and again, until the clips looked right.

Another positive aspect of Dynamic Link is that the project you're creating is a linked file, so it really isn't rendering in the host application, it's rendering in After Effects, which means that it makes use of all of After Effects presets, templates, and plug-ins.

Premiere Pro

Let's try it with Premiere Pro. To begin, start a new project and choose File > Adobe Dynamic Link > New After Effects Composition (Figure 1). After Effects will open and you'll have the opportunity to name your project. I suggest saving your project in the same folder as the Premiere Pro project that you are working on and giving your project the same name as your Premiere Pro project with the letters AE added at the end of the file name. After you do so, After Effects will finish opening and it will show you a new composition that is named after the Premiere Pro project that it originated from.


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Figure One. Start a new project and choose File > Adobe Dynamic Link > New After Effects Composition.

Next, choose the Type tool and type "Dynamic Link" (or whatever text you choose) on the Comp window (main monitor). Choose Window > Character to open the Character panel (if it's already open, skip this step) and change the font to Arial Black with a size of 57 px.

Choose Window > Effects and Presets to open the Effects and Presets panel (if it's already open, skip this step). In the "contains" box, type in the word Climber, and the effect named "Climber" will appear (Figure 2). Drag this effect to the "Dynamic Link" text layer that we just created and now press 0 on your numeric keypad to create a RAM preview. This is a cute animated text effect that we can use in our Premiere Pro project.


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Figure Two. In the "contains" box, type in the word Climber, and the effect named "Climber" will appear.

You're all finished now. All you need to do is save your project (Ctrl+S) and go back to Premiere Pro, and your Dynamic Link clip will be there waiting for you (Figure 3).


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Figure Three. Save and return to Premiere Pro, and your Dynamic Link clip will be there.

Edit Original

In Premiere Pro, use this clip any way you wish, and if you need to change something, right-click the clip in the Project panel and choose Edit Original (Figure 4). The After Effects composition will open and you'll be able to make the changes.


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Figure Four. If you need to change something, right-click the clip in the Premiere Pro project Window and choose Edit Original.

Let's change the color of the font. Double-click the T that is to the left of the words "Dynamic Link" in the Timeline panel. This will select the entire text of that layer. In the Character panel, you can now change the color of the text by selecting a new color from the color picker (Figure 5).


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Figure Five. In the Character panel, change the text color by selecting a new color from the color picker.

After you do this, save the AE project and go back to Premiere. Your Dynamic Link clip will be updated automatically (Figure 6)!


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Figure Six. Save in AE and your clip will be updated automatically.

Using Dynamic Link with Encore DVD and with Premiere Pro is going to be a great asset for any editor. To be able to have this level of interaction between applications is something that I know I have been wishing for, and now my wish has been granted!

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