The Premiere Pro Editor’s Guide to Using the Essential Graphics Panel
The recent release of Adobe CC 2019 brought a major overhaul to the Essential Graphics Panels in Premiere Pro and After Effects. If you had previously dabbled with the Essential Graphics Panels, but were put off by some of its shortcomings, you really need to take a second look. It can transform how you handle motion graphics for your projects.
But if you’re still wondering what the Essential Graphics Panel is, buckle up and prepare yourself to have your mind blown.
What is the Essential Graphics Panel?
Simply put, the Essential Graphics Panel puts the motion graphics power of After Effects into any Premiere Pro editor’s hands. But not only does it give you this capability, it gives it to your whole team and your clients, all from inside your favorite NLE.
If you’re a generalist that regularly bounces between the two programs to deliver content or a Premiere Pro editor in a collaborative environment relying on motion graphics artists, then the Essential Graphics Panel has a huge potential to revolutionize your workflow. It saves time, renders, and ensures consistency in graphics packages.
As an example, a prime use for the Essential Graphics Panel is creating lower thirds. A graphic can be built within After Effects and then saved as a motion graphics template or .mogrt file (unofficially pronounced mo-gurt). Any Premiere Pro editor can then import that .mogrt file and then have the ability to edit text and other properties, while keeping the smooth animation created in After Effects.
The Essential Graphics Panel can incorporate many of After Effects’ parameters (but not all) and also pull from After Effects’ third-party plugins, like Video Copilot’s Element 3D. In many cases After Effects doesn’t even need to be installed on the Premiere Pro system using the .mogrt file. This is a game-changer when creating Premiere Pro templates for clients.
Ready-made .mogrt Templates
As a Premiere Pro editor, you may be excited by the thought of creating great looking graphics from within Premiere Pro; but maybe you aren’t proficient in After Effects or you aren’t working with a motion graphics artist. Don’t worry. Adobe and others still have you covered.
Opening the Essential Graphics Panel in Premiere Pro (Window > Essential Graphics) reveals a wide selection of pre-made templates that automatically come with Premiere Pro. These templates include titles, lower thirds, captions, credits, and more. When you find yourself in a quick turnaround situation, but need clean and stylish graphics, this is an easy resource to utilize. Though, do keep in mind that these templates are available to anyone with an active Creative Cloud subscription, so you (or your clients) might notice lots of other people using similar or identical graphics.
If you’re worried about this, there are other options. Not only does Adobe have hundreds more options available through Adobe Stock, but you can also find countless premium and free templates on sites like PremiumBeat and VideoHive.
Custom After Effects .mogrt Templates
To fully unleash the power of the Essential Graphics Panel, you need to delve into making your own custom .morgt templates. Users with a basic level of After Effects experience can still definitely create useful templates, but learning some expressions will increase your creative possibilities exponentially.
This article won’t be a step-by-step tutorial on how to create .mogrt templates, but is instead a primer on the overall process I use when working with clients. If you’re looking for a deep dive into the nuts and bolts of graphics templates, check out our article on building .morgt templates in After Effects.
A client recently asked me to create a lower third template for a group of editors to use on some quick-hit social media videos about various celebrities’ net worth. They wanted the editors to have as little control over the style of the lower thirds as possible, and just needed them to be able to edit text and one of the graphic properties (the height of the stack of animated dollars). After Effects makes this kind of job easy.
With just a few pre-compositions and expressions, I was able to build this lower third in just minutes. In this graphic, the height of the stack of money can be selected, and the text size automatically scales to perfectly fit inside the green box.
Next I needed to prep the template for the editors. Once the lower thirds were built, I opened After Effects’ Essential Graphics Panel (Window > Essential Graphics) and hit ‘Solo Supported Properties’ for my main composition. This reveals every property in a composition that’s available for Essential Graphics. The editable properties I chose for this template were the money height and the contents for each line of text. That’s it. Everything else was locked down so the editors wouldn’t have to fiddle with dozens more options.
After adding the 4 properties for the template to the Essential Graphics Panel, I click ‘Export Motion Graphics Media,’ and saved it to my local drive.
As you can see in the window below, you have the ability to add searchable keyword metadata to the .mogrt file. This is very useful when a team has a huge library of .morgts they use regularly, so I highly suggest using the feature.
This window can also give warning if the .morgt contains any fonts that aren’t included in Adobe Fonts, and whether or not After Effects needs to be installed on the user’s computer. These are important pieces of information to know when delivering templates to a client, so be sure to pay attention at this step in the process. Of course, let your client know if they need anything extra to use the .morgt template. It will save you from the last-minute phone call of an angry, panicked client.
Adobe CC 2019 Updates
It’s worth noting here that Adobe’s recent CC 2019 update allows the source text properties (font, size, weight) to remain editable from within Premiere Pro.
In the case of my client, they wanted to keep the style of these graphics locked down, so I chose to leave the boxes below unchecked.
If this graphic had been more complicated or had more functionality, I could have also formatted the template with groups and comments. This capability is quite useful, and was just added by Adobe recently.
Yet another extremely cool feature Adobe added to the Essential Graphics Panel is the capability to make data-driven templates. Data, like names, numbers, or colors, can be pulled directly from a spreadsheet in a .csv or .tsv format and replaced in Premiere Pro by easily dragging and dropping an updated spreadsheet into the Essential Graphics panel in Premiere Pro. This is a huge resource for editors who may need to create a laundry list of lower third names and titles.
Using .mogrts in Premiere Pro
When it comes time to actually use a custom .mogrt template in Premiere Pro, don’t panic. The Essential Graphics Panel makes it easy.
First, open the Essential Graphics Panel (Window > Essential Graphics) and click ‘Install Motion Graphics Template’.
This imports the graphics template into Premiere’s Essential Graphics panel, while the file itself is put in the project’s designated ‘Motion Graphics Template Media’ location (File > Project Settings > Scratch Disks). More on that later.
After you’ve imported a .morgt, you’re ready to use it. It’s that easy.
For the lower third I made for my client, the .morgt can be dragged directly from the panel onto a timeline. When the editors need to use it, Premiere Pro automatically adds a ‘Motion Graphics Template Media’ bin to the project, and adds the graphic to that bin. With just a couple clicks a few seconds, the editors can play back the graphical power of After Effects without leaving Premiere Pro.
Editing the graphic is even easier than importing it. The text can be changed and money height adjusted from within the Essential Graphics Panel or the Effect Controls panel. Pro tip, use sliders to control .morgt variables (when possible), so the end user can’t exceed the limits of that input field.
One very important thing to know is that Premiere Pro creates multiple instances of a graphics template when it is used more than once in a single timeline. That means editing the contents of one does not affect another, so you can use the same template to make several unique graphics in the same video sequence.
Custom Premiere Pro .mogrt Templates
Premiere Pro also has the ability to create custom .mogrt templates, though its functionality is not nearly as robust as After Effects, though the process is similar. First you’ll need to create a graphic, keyframe its elements in a dedicated timeline, and then export it via the Essential Graphics Panel. That’s it.
One distinct benefit of creating a template in Premiere Pro is that it gives you the ability to include direct uploads in the .mogrt template, like a video or an image. Currently, this feature isn’t supported by .mogrt files created in After Effects, but Adobe releases updates frequently, so keep your eyes peeled.
Sharing Essential Graphics Templates
Sharing custom templates can be done in two ways—you can share .mogrt files as we’ve been discussing, or you can share .aegraphic files (which we’ll cover now).
The .aegraphic file is what is created when a .mogrt file is imported into Premiere Pro. Technically, this is a file created by After Effects that can only be opened by Premiere Pro via the Essential Graphics Panel itself. It’s sort of an interchange file, and was only introduced with the 2017 Adobe CC update.
In most cases, delivering a .mogrt file is sufficient for a client or collaborator to import and use. However, .aegraphic files are important when either you need to consolidate a Premiere Pro Project (File > Project Manager) or you need to create a Premiere Pro template that uses Essential Graphics.
In both cases, the .aegraphic file (not the .mogrt template) must be included with the Premiere Pro project for another person on another system to open the project and have the graphic template load with the other project media. So make sure to include the .aegraphic file if you or the client foresee that being a possibility.
The Essential Graphics Panel opens up a whole world of creative storytelling possibilities. If you’re a Premiere Pro editor who has never used it, you really should give it a try.
And if you’re interested in digging deeper into the Essential Graphics Panel’s potential for creating custom graphics, head over to Adobe’s user guide. This is a stellar resource that starts with the basics and goes all the way through to complex data-driven graphics. It’s a great resource for becoming an Essential Graphics guru.