you can only refresh or replace footage for source files (images, sounds and videos) as I know. When you import an aep into another aep, you get copies of your old comps plus all the assets in that aep, but no source for your actual project file.
Question: why don't you combine multiple compositions in a master comp instead of going through multiple projects? This way you can even have one comp as a template, make a duplicate working comp of it and in that comp replace sources on your timeline (select one or more layers on the timeline, then alt+drag from project window to replace the source of the layers).
The reason I am doing it through multiple projects is that if I work in the same project when I place a second copy of the comp on the timeline it is still using the original assets. Here is another forum I was reading with the same problem: http://forums.creativecow.net/thread/202/883208
Although, it looks like there is a plugin you can use to do all the duplication needed here: http://aescripts.com/true-comp-duplicator/ I might try using this, as then I can do what you are saying and work in a master comp.
sounds more like you need Immigration (http://aescripts.com/immigration/) but it's not free. Comp Duplicator doesn't say anything about duplicating the source clips, which is what you need.
From what I gather, you're doing your comp with a set of photos, and you need a second comp set up exactly the same but with different set of photos. If I got it right, you have 2 ways of doing it (which don't involve Immigration script):
1. the hard way, with replacing the layer sources, as I described above. This could take a while if you have a lot of photos, but it's hard to mess things up.
2. - split the photos into folders, one folder for each comp you're gonna make;
- keep the file names of your photos the same, according to their position in the comp, or whatever criteria you want; you just need the same names for replacing later;
- make your first comp and save a copy of the project;
- rename the folder with the footage for original comp;
- open the copy project and point it to the 2nd folder for missing files; if file naming was consistent, you should only need tot replace one file, and AE would find the rest by itself;
- open first project and point to renamed folder;
- import one project into the other, or both in a 3rd project.
But for this to work you'd have to do a lot of preparation - make sure photo sizes (the sources) stay consistent, do a lot of file renaming (Total Commander for Windows has a batch rename tool), and one slight mistake can send you right where you started.
There is no way to update imported projects. They become part of the new projct's native structure. As Marian said, you need to brush up on general AE project management and how to duplicate and replace stuff in the right place. Using scripts may facilitate some of that, but you still need to understand how it works "uder the hood" and that's your real problem here...
Definitely - without a doubt the biggest thing going against me is my lack of experience with AE. I know Premiere and Flash fairly confidently, but they are limited when it comes to this kind of processing - lol.
Given some time, practice, and advice from more experienced users I'll get it figured out though .
For the time being, because of the time crunch I'm under, I'll utilize the script for the hierarchical comp duplication, which seems to work beautifully. When the crunch is over I'll try working through a few tutorials on project management and general AE workflow.
Thanks for the help!