the reasons you are seeing precomps instead of clips could be because you toggled the "scale to frame size" in premiere: Re: Scale to frame size Premiere to AE behaviour?
if this is the case, you can toggle it off and and instead use "set to frame size" in premiere instead.
Ugh, you're mostly right. My settings are fine ("set to frame size" NOT toggled), but the client may have had it checked.
If I re-import the raw footage on my end, then bounce it to AE, things work properly. I'm guessing there's no way to actually fix this without re-building the entire feature from scratch with "set to frame size" toggled off, then...? The footage in the PPro seq is all scaled to 100%; the project had no need for "set to frame size"...
I think there is some misunderstanding here.
what I am suggesting is that the precomped footage in your Ae is a result of "Scale to frame size" which is checked for your clips in premiere. right click on the clip in premiere and check
if it is indeed checked, then if you copy the clips to Ae, they will be precomped because that's the way Ae translated this feature. now, if instead you choose "set to frame size", then your footage will be also scaled to frame, but now when you copy the clips to Ae they won't be precomped.
More on scale to frame size vs set to frame size:
when you "scale to frame size", Premiere internally scales the footage to the frame and rasterize it - think of it as if in Ae, you scaled your footage to frame and precomped it. it's now a precomp at 100% but it really isn't the true scale value of the footage (now it makes sense it translates this way, right?).
when you "set to frame" you are really scaling the footage in it's scaling parameters. so you will see 120% or 60% as if you scaled your footage in Ae but didn't precomp it - and it also makes sense it won't need to precomp upon translation to Ae.
Nice! Right-clicking on the footage and un-checking "scale to frame size" did the trick! Thanks for your help!
Great! thanks for the feedback