Enable Dynamic Updates Between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro

Posted on by Larry

One of the big benefits of using Photoshop graphics in Premiere Pro is that whenever you make and save changes to that graphic in Photoshop, those changes are instantly reflected in Premiere.

However, there are several gotchas you need to be careful of.

Here’s how this works.


(Click to see larger image.)

Here’s a Photoshop graphic with five layers

When you save that file as a PSD and import it into Premiere, the default setting is to Merge All Layers into a single image. This is the best choice if you don’t plan to animate the layers.

NOTE: Even if you merge all layers in Premiere, you can still right-click the image and select Edit in Photoshop. When the file opens in Photoshop, all layers are distinct and editable.

The reason this is the best choice is that any changes you make in the original Photoshop graphic, even layer changes, are instantly applied to Premiere once you save the PSD file.

Here, for instance, I enabled the winter layer and moved the text. Poof! Instant update. Note, also, that the darkness of the rectangle matches that in Photoshop.

NOTE: Selecting Merged Layers allows you to select which layers to import into that single, merged graphic. You can even import inactive layers, which makes them active (enabled) in Premiere.


However, if you plan to animate the elements in the image, a more flexible choice is to import them as a sequence, which imports all active layers as individual clips built into a sequence (Premiere calls these a “nest”). This sequence can be added into your project as an element.

NOTE: You could also import them as Individual Layers, which allows you to select which layers to import. Each layer then comes in as a separate clip. The disadvantage of this option is that you need to then build these clips into a sequence manually.

This is the result of importing this graphic as a sequence.

However, note that only four layers were imported! Premiere does not import any layer that is hidden in Photoshop, unless you manually override that setting. Every import option except Merge All Layers allows these overrides. Once a layer is imported as an individual clip, changing layer order or names in Photoshop won’t be reflected in Premiere. Layer organization is set upon first import.

The other problem is that the shadow behind the text has a different value than it does in Photoshop. For best results when you plan to create a sequence, set opacity levels to 100% in Photoshop, then adjust them in Premiere.

(Click to see larger image.)

I then modified the image and enabled the hidden layer.

However in Premiere, the image remained the same, while the text moved. Why? Because Premiere does not update layer changes, only the contents of existing layers that were active when the first import occurred.


Here are the key points to keep in mind. If you don’t plan to animate the image, import it as a merged file including all layers, or select the layers you want to merge. This simplifies future image updates.

If you select Merge All Layers, whatever you do in Photoshop will be reflected in Premiere. If you select Merge Layers, only those imported layers will update.

If you plan to animate the image:

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3 Responses to Enable Dynamic Updates Between Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Premiere Pro

  1. Neal Davis says:

    I use Photoshop files a lot in my videos and I find the easiest and most flexible way is to create tif files and import individual layers into Premiere. I can still update them in Photoshop and they update automatically in Premiere, but this allows me tons of freedom to manipulate, animate, and generally play with these files in Premiere. And if I want to nest them, and I can do that in Premiere as well.

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