Creating a “dynamic editing” workflow

This is going to be one hell of a tutorial so strap in and get ready for the ride of your life! This is a tutorial that assumes you know how to organise your folders in your editing programme (compositions, images, audio, solids, etc.), and the function of each of these layers in the software itself. What this walkthrough aims to provide, as mentioned in the previous article, is the ability to have a multi-layered project that can be the hub to switch the individual changes.

Premiere Pro/Final Cut

Before getting into the heavier editing programmes, I’ll start with the basics – the actual editing software! In this example I’ll creating a montage of images with some voice over.

So within my first sequence, I have four clips dissolving into the next. Underneath is the voice over track. This is fairly basic procedure in the editing, however, as this is an exercise programme with different instructors and locations both the footage and audio will change. In fact there are eighteen different combinations for this series!

The main files you edit - video and audio.

Since my audio is professionally recorded and timed to match, each of my variations are 00:00:14:24 in length. When you are preforming such the preparation for the switcher, having the same length tracks is ideal. As I mentioned in the previous article, no editing programme automatically ripples in and out according to the ever changing inner layers. Having multiple lengths will mean you will need to move footage around in the main timeline.

So when you have all your asset sequences ready, drag them into a new sequence calling it, SWITCHER. Hopefully if anyone is smart enough to take this method of editing on board and makes software will look out for a layer called SWITCHER or even make it inbuilt (like the MULTICAM SETUP in Premiere Pro).

The contents of the switcher layer with the individual, editable sequences.

Now comes the easy part! Drag your switcher layer into the main timeline (with the rest of your footage) and just toggle through the visibility (and audio) of the switcher contents. In my case I have it at the end of the sequence, meaning the export can be trimmed down yet if it were at the beginning I would have to move the rest of the layers around (not too hard if you group them).

My SWITCHER layer in the main timeline.

Same result only After Effects

Here I am creating a basic lower third. There is a text layer (first name, last name) and a texture layer for the background.

Perfectly, manually shaped mask in AE.

Again, with this composition I needed ten versions for different instructors, so duplicate (remember to duplicate in the project window NOT timeline!) as many times as you need. Once each of the individual compositions have been made – in my case changing the name – pre-compose all those layers into one calling it SWITCHER. I have mine called, “_LT_TEXT_LEFT” since I have three versions of the text (left, centre, and right).

Inside the pre-comp are the individual text layers.

And with this composition, drag it into your main composition – where all the main edits occur. Like the Premiere Pro/Final Cut example, all you have to do is turn the visibility on and off to alternate the active layer.

Just like the switcher layer in Premiere, here is a pre-comp as my SWITCHER.

Note: I have called my switcher renamed to the instructions since this is my only way to communicate to the other editors without ruining my dynamic workflow!


Now apart from the duration issue that can be caused with multiple layers, too is an issue with my mask. For each text layer that is shortened or lengthened compared to the original means I have to manually have to change it. This isn’t a huge issue at all since even if you aren’t dynamically editing but need to show varying compositions you’ll have to resize the mask anyway. But hopefully someone figures out how to resize automagically, or Adobe add this feature in the future!

that layer again I still have it!