The Adobe After Effects Export Guide (Part Two): External Workflows

In Part One we looked at how Adobe After Effects handles exporting media to various codecs. In this part we’ll look at how an Adobe After Effects project can be exported to different applications for further processing.

There are three kinds of workflows here:

  • Export to a Premiere Pro
  • Export to Cinema 4D
  • Export to other third-party applications, including Speedgrade

Let’s look at them one by one.

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AE Export Options

Adobe After Effects to Premiere Pro

You can rewrite the After Effects project to an Adobe Premiere Pro project (*.prproj) by going to File > Export > Adobe Premiere Pro Project …. Choose the file name and you’re done. You can import the file directly within Premiere Pro.

However, if you’re in After Effects, that means you will probably have used some of its functionality (mainly effects, titles, etc.), which cannot be taken back to Premiere Pro. In such scenarios, it is better to render your clips and replace them in the compositions prior to exporting. The advantage of this workflow is that you don’t have to render the entire project.

On the flip side, now that Encore is dead, you no longer need to go back to Premiere Pro for anything, really (unless you want to re-edit)!

Adobe After Effects to Cinema 4D

Go to File > Export > MAXON CINEMA 4D Exporter…. You don’t have much choice here, but just to export a *.C4D file. Bringing in C4D files is better (you then have the 3D elements to composite), and After Effects is bundled with a Lite version of Cinema 4D which brings awesome functionality to the table.

One example of wanting to export C4D is if you want to export camera tracking data created in After Effects.

Adobe After Effects to Speedgrade


likes EDLs, but After Effects isn’t an NLE so it can’t export EDLs. The best way is to render DPX image sequences in 10-bit log and import that into Speedgrade for grading. When you’re finished, export the graded DPX files and import them back into After effects for motion graphics, etc.

Tedious? Yes, I know.

Adobe After Effects to Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve

To export projects into Resolve, you can use XML. You need to select File > Save a Copy As XML…:

AE Save as XML


Now, effects and titles will not pass through as they should. In fact, you must render all effects prior to exporting your XML this way. It’s as basic as it gets.

There are two ways you can go here:

  • Adobe Premiere Pro – Resolve for grading – After Effects for motion graphics and some compositing
  • Adobe Premiere Pro – After Effects for VFX – Resolve for grading

In the first case, you might want to grade your footage because you’re only using After Effects for its motion graphics capabilities and maybe some minor effects work. In this instance you’d export an XML from Premiere Pro, work in Resolve, and then render a DPX or TIFF sequence that is then imported into After Effects.

In the second case, you will have to render your compositions within After Effects so it can be imported into Resolve for final grading. This isn’t very convenient if you have titles and motion graphics, because isolating those elements during the grade with power windows is going to get tedious. You’re between a rock and a hard place, I’m afraid.

To know more about importing XML into Resolve read the DaVinci Resolve Crash Course.

Okay. What do I recommend? I’m someone who won’t bat an eyelid if you told me you’re going to grade a project (no matter how large in scope) in After Effects. I would grade and finish in After Effects, period.

Adobe After Effects to Assimilate Scratch

To export projects to Scratch, you can use XML. The same problems you’d find in the Resolve workflow would apply here.

As you can see, I would never grade in Speedgrade, Resolve or Scratch after I’m already in After Effects. Too many renders in between, and I really don’t see the point of it. My policy is – when in After Effects, end it.

That’s it! I hope this quick guide has given you enough information to decide for yourself whether Adobe After Effects is the right tool for your workflow or not. Always test a workflow thoroughly before committing to it. Better yet, map it out in your head even before you start shooting.

Exclusive Bonus: Download my free guide (with examples) on how to find the best camera angles for dialogue scenes when your mind goes blank.