A virtual copy is simply a copy of the catalog entry for that image. I'm not aware of any way of doing what you are wanting to do.
Thanks Jim, and it's this very aspect of VC's that would likely make it quick and easy associate VC data with a different master file so I'm surprised it's not a feature.
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I don't understand your thinking on this. A virtual copy can be created from any master image. However, I don't see the need or even the logic of trying to switch a virtual copy link from one master to another. Maybe I'm just a little bit slow.
Short, but maybe long, answer is No.
A Virtual Copy of any image is just that, a virtual, A Make Believe, copy of that particular image. It can't be associated with any other image because it is a Virtual Copy of One specific image file.
I agree with what Jim Hess said in his post above. What you are asking doesn't make any sense.
If you want a Virtual copy of some other image then create a VC for that image.
So the difficulty is that you want to keep a duplicate of your Photoshop file which lacks some subsequent changes, and to have that file still imported to LR, while you want your current VCs to refer to a different version of the Photoshop file which does include those subsequent changes - correct?
This does not have to involve transferring the VCs, if you just view the problem the other way up. Just save a duplicate of the PS file first, under a suitable name (IMG12345-edit-unchanged.tif) and keep that. The version which currently has the VCs, is then the one you apply further PS changes to, ongoing (IMG12345-edit.tif) and the right thing happens with the VCs automatically.
This other with-no-further-changes PS file can be copied within the file system or made with Save As in Photoshop (and then imported to LR if you want, though I can imagine only confusion arising). Or it can be created from within LR, with auto import, using "Edit Original as Copy" and then saving the resulting new PS edit straight away.
More simply, if you are seeking to protect yourself against ever regretting a PS edit and wishing to go back - where does that stop? Would you need to retain a different copy for every single Save you've ever done? Clearly no.
So perhaps you can rely on regular backups to retrieve an earlier instance of the file, in the probably remote likelihood you required this? Or, by using layer based methods strategically in PS, plan to isolate out the different sorts and stages of editing involved, such that just the needed part of this work would be easy to get rid of if ever necessary, reversing that, and perhaps then redoing it differently. Or if there's a complex layer mask that took a lot of work, and you are about to change it and are nervous about messing things up - you can preserve a copy of this mask as it currently is, as a new channel within the PS file, so that you will have it to go back to if necessary.
Any number of virtual copies as well as the LR master version, can be in effect transferred wholesale from referring to the content of file A, to referring to the content of file B.
One would probably want the two to be at least comparable (same orientation, aspect etc).
Simply (outside of LR) give file A some different filename (or move it elsewhere or even delete it).
- either (before going back to LR) change file B so it's got the exact filename that was previously used by A
- or (back in LR) the image will now show that its source is missing: re-connect this to file B
"A Virtual Copy of any image is just that, a virtual, A Make Believe, copy of that particular image. It can't be associated with any other image because it is a Virtual Copy of One specific image file."
You have described precisely why it could be associated with another image, and you can see this in action by replacing the underlying image with a different one and that your VC's update accordingly. Changing the association at the VC level, which is essentially just the file path, rather than the actual file would work the same.
As you note, LR is non-destructive, and a VC is a set of instructions that describe modifications/adjustments to an image. They don't care what the image is, they don't need to, and they'll work just as well on different images provided that those images are more or less the same. In some cases, those instructions might even work for a completely different image, though that's not the use-case here.
Here is the use case again.
Suppose you have image A, with copies VC1, VC2 and VC3, and you need to make changes to A but retain the option to come back to it later if needed. So you edit A, but you can't use edit original as that would be destructive, so you pick edit a copy or copy with lightroom adjustments. You edit the image and save. At that point the new image A(2) is still fundamentally image A, it's just a new version of it, but to Lr it's completely unrelated. The adjustments VC1, VC2 and VC3 make just as much sense being applied to A(2) as A, and that's where you now want them to be. If you decide that A(2) is fine and you never want to go back to A then you could delete A, or you may decide that A(2) was a bad direction after all so wants the VC's back on A, or you decide that you want to fork the image timeline and see A and A(2) as conceptually separate after all, with independent future edits to A and A2, and so you duplicate the VC's. What is missing is the concept of versions.
Given the existence of the VC concept, which is excellent, editing is potentially a two dimensional process, with image variations (VC's) on one axis and image versions on the other. You can go a long with way with variations, but sometimes you need to iterate the underlying image with a new version. Image containers such as PSD can embody or approximate to versions with layers or edit history, which could be why Lr has never added versions, but if you need to use other programs the ability to preserve versions isn't there. So that's why it's useful
That's my conclusion too. Lr is a bit buggy in terms of updating previews so can be confused by doing this, but the process works. In my case I'd forgotten to do a Nik pass to refine contrast, didn't have Ps setup to launched Nik and get the result back as a new layer (I think that's possible), and the VC's were minor changes that I didn't need to see in order to do the Nik pass successfully. So an edit copy followed by shuffling the VC's to the new result would have been ideal. I use windows and have Cygwin installed, so a Bash script could handle the mechanics of this were it needed often though. I'm trying to get my workflow better and avoid it being necessary though!
It certainly can get complicated when you are using a mosaic of different applications.
IIRC the Nik applications can operate e.g. as Smart Filters on a Smart Object right inside PS, thus non-destructively, and in my opinion this is preferable to using Nik as an external application and passing different files back and forth between LR and Nik and PS.
I'll always try to achieve whatever is needed that LR cannot do, inside the PS environment. Can't always be done that way - PTGui, Enfuse - but, wherever possible it's cleaner workflow IMO even for a 3rd party utility. Plus that way you are already inside PS, in case there is something else you want to alter at the same time, via PS's own tools and layers - all included into a single save.