Premiere Pro Timeline Shifts (or First Frame) After Moving Project or Relinking Footage

by Antoine on March 20th, 2020
(Originally published on February 15th, 2020)
This Premiere Pro 2020 bug will shift your timelines or reset your clips to their first frame; here's how to fix your project!

What happened ?

Some BRAW Studio customers contacted us recently about a weird issue where their whole timeline would shift after moving their project, or moving their footage from one hard drive to another (or a network storage). BRAW Studio is our Adobe CC native importer for Blackmagic RAW format, so we are concerned by this issue. After investigation, we have no reason to believe it is linked to our importer nor that it is specific to the .braw format. Some reported on Adobe Forums that this happens with different video formats.

Are you facing this Premiere 2020 issue ?

You might be concerned by this issue if you're using Premiere 2020 and are doing any operation that would involve relocating footage. Sometimes Premiere Pro will relocate footage in the background, for example if the footage is relatively close to your .prproj in your filesystem and you are moving both your .prproj Premiere project and your footage at the same time. After studying the case of our users concerned by this error, it seems to happen on both Windows and Mac OSX but only in the 2020 version of Premiere Pro (so only in 14.0.0 or 14.0.1). It doesn't seem to happen in older versions of Adobe Premiere Pro and no one has reported to us that their audio files were also shifted (unless they are linked to a video file of course).
Sometimes the "time shift" would make it so that the clips on your timeline return to their first frame. It seems to only affect the clips on your timeline (your editing) and not your Source Clip in your project panel. Although one user reported to us that after relocating / relinking, the Media Start timecode of its Source clips changed completely (see UserVoice issue below).
If you are experiencing timeline shifts with clips where you changed their "Media Start" timecode in the Project Panel, it could also be from another Adobe behavior, please read our other article about this : How do I avoid the Shift Issue in BRAW Studio ?

Tell Adobe to fix this issue !

Also if you suffer from this issue please tell your story and details here Adobe Forums / Community (CC 2020 Timeline Clips Shifts After Moving Project / Relocating / Relinking).
That'll hopefully make Adobe aware of this issue !

How to fix your timelines and your editing

If you don't want to wait for Adobe to fix this issue you have multiple options :
  1. You could try to downgrade your Premiere project to CC 2019 : Online Website about it, or this Youtube Tutorial
  2. You could try to export a Final Cut Pro .xml from your first Premiere Pro project for each of your sequences, then after moving your assets (footage) in the new location, create a new Premiere Pro project and import each .xml one by one. One user said it worked and another said it didn't.
  3. If the last two methods didn't work, try out our manual method :

Autokroma's manual method to fix your project

The method we're going to describe for you worked for one of our BRAW Studio customer.

Preparations 1 : Know your Paths

Focus, this is important. Before beginning this method you should write down the current path of your footage, and the new path of your footage after moving it. If it could all be contained in one global folder, that would be best (even if you have subfolder, at least the folder structure would be the same from this global folder).
For example if you have the following :
  • D:\MyLatestPProProject\PProProject.prproj
  • D:\MyLatestPProProject\Footage\January\FirstShoot.braw
  • D:\MyLatestPProProject\Footage\February\SecondShoot.braw
and you want to move your project this way :
  • E:\FromMyPreviousComputer\MyLatestPProProject\PProProject.prproj
  • E:\FromMyPreviousComputer\MyLatestPProProject\Footage\January\FirstShoot.braw
  • E:\FromMyPreviousComputer\MyLatestPProProject\Footage\February\SecondShoot.braw
then your "global common folder" would be before :
  • D:\MyLatestPProProject (this would be your PREVIOUS_PATH)
and then after you move your project and assets :
  • E:\FromMyPreviousComputer\MyLatestPProProject (this would be your NEXT_PATH)

Preparations 2 : Install Software

If you're on Windows, download and install 7zip
If you're on Mac OSX please download Keka
You also need a code editor that supports "Search and Replace", such as Notepad++ or VS Code

Our manual method steps

So now you're ready to fix your project using our manual method :
  1. Suffix your Premiere Pro project with .gz and extract what's inside with 7zip or Keka (see preparations)
  2. Suffix the file you obtained with "_fixed.xml"
  3. Open this file with a text editor that supports "Search and Replace" (see preparations) and find this feature, often in the "Edit" or "Search" top bar menu
  4. Search for : <FilePath>PREVIOUS_PATH and Replace by this <FilePath>NEXT_PATH. Replace of course the value of PREVIOUS_PATH and NEXT_PATH with what you got in the preparation of this method. Beware of forward slash and back slash ! In our example you would look for <FilePath>D:\MyLatestPProProject and replace it with <FilePath>E:\FromMyPreviousComputer\MyLatestPProProject
  5. Same again : use the Search and Replace of your text editor, search for : <ActualMediaFilePath>PREVIOUS_PATH and replace by this <ActualMediaFilePath>NEXT_PATH. In our example you would look for <ActualMediaFilePath>D:\MyLatestPProProject and replace with <ActualMediaFilePath>E:\FromMyPreviousComputer\MyLatestPProProject
  6. Save the file
  7. Use the gzip software again (see preparations) to compress this file using the "gzip" choice. If you use something else it won't work, you need to select GZIP ! See screenshot for OSX, on the top right :
    OSX Keka gzip
  8. Suffix the file you get with .prproj so that Premiere Pro will be able to open it
  9. Move your assets and move this new Premiere Pro project file to your new location. Open this file with Premiere Pro and enjoy!
On steps 4 and 5 you should get a confirmation by your text editor has replaced elements in your file. If it didn't something is wrong ! If you got it wrong at some step you should always start again from step 1. and never modify your original project.
Some users reported to us they replaced step 4 and 5 with a simple Search and Replace, replacing their PREVIOUS_PATH with their NEXT_PATH. This can work on some projects, but we cannot guarantee it works 100% of the time. If you change all paths directly you might change other places in your project, leading to a corrupted or unusable Premiere Pro project and you might discover this too late.
We assure you this method works if followed properly, good luck !