I render my 720x1280 videos at as uncompressed quicktime, then use media encoder to convert them to h264 usual at bitrate of 8 to 10 thousand. I've heard some people say quicktime is terrible but it works for me. I mentiooned the 720x1280 because apparently some rendering formats work better or worse depending on the video's resolution.
I never recommend 720P unless there is a specific need for that frame size. The standard is 1080 X 1920 square pixels and 29.97 fps in every country that runs their electricity at 60 cycles and 25fps in every country on the PAL standard where the electricity is 50 cycles. If you composition settings show Custom then you had better know exactly what you are doing. You should also be using the Adobe Media Encoder to render all of your deliverables. Unless you have specific format requirements given to you by a client use H.264 and pick the preset that matches your comp size and frame rate. If you are going to YouTube use their presets. If you are going to Vimeo use theirs. Here again, unless you know exactly what you are doing you should not see Custom in the settings panel. The only thing you might want to check is to make sure that multi pass rendering and maximum quality is checked. These will slow down the render a bit but they will reduce compression artifacts in color and motion.
The Render Cue in After Effects is most useful to render DI (Digital intermediates) in a lossless production format or Visually lossless masters. If there is significant sound editing or sound processing in your project, or there is a bunch of editing then you'll want to do your rendering from Premiere Pro and your Sound work in Audition. AE is primarily designed to create visual effects and motion graphics shots and short sequences that are edited and assembled and finalized in a NLE like Premiere Pro. Way too many new users to AE, and even quite a few folks that have used AE for a long time, try and make 5 or 10 minute movies in AE. I had a student one time that was trying to edit a 20 minute Sifi short film in AE in a single comp. It was an unwieldily mess that turned into a fairly decent movie once we broke it down into about 40 separate projects with eight or ten comps in each then cut the film in Premiere Pro.
To add to what Rick and Gutter-Fish said, FAQ: Why is my output file huge, and why doesn't it play back smoothly?
Rendering it as QuickTime with the PNG codec instead of uncompressed with give you the same quality, but a smaller file size if that's a concern. And then you use the Adobe Media Encoder to make an MP4 (or whatever your delivery spec is) for playback.
Thanks for all that info Rick.
Rick I have a question with regards to what you said. I do short information videos for an online educational company. Most of the lesson are around 5 minutes. I receive only an audio file of the voice narration and a transcript. I have to create video from nothing. When I started they suggested I use Premier to set up the essential keywords and definitions that need to appear onscreen. Then use AE to create any animations and import those into Premier for the final assembly. But I had never used Premier so I just do it all in AE. As I said my projects are usually about 4 to 6 minutes long and usually consist of, at most 10 comps. Would suggest I jump back and forth between AE and Premier for this? I mean all I would be doing premier is a little bit of audio editing, & arranging the text. It seems like it would be alot more time consuming to jump back and forth.
Here's what's cool about going to Premiere for to finish your final product -- more control. You can trim stuff up, you can nudge layers so they start earlier or later, add transitions easily and you can make final audio level tweaks. And unlike AE, you see and hear it back right away in real time. Very helpful.
I seldom if ever put more than one or two sentences or phrases in a single comp. Usually the audio was just there for reference. I almost always analyze the speech in Premier Pro which gives me an audio track with all of the words set up as markers.
I design the resting position for each "scene" in illustrator so I have a bunch of illustrator files that I can use as a quick storyboard to make sure project is going to work. I lay out the non-animated story boards in Premiere Pro but sometimes I will do some quick moves on the storyboards in AE and submit them to the client for approval. After designing the storyboards and recording the audio that usually takes me about (don't tell my clients) 10 or 15 minutes to put together a 10 minute rough-cut to show the client.
The next step is to open H illustrator file as a composition in After Effects and mostly using animation presets I have designed a hold of the years that bass motion on in and out points for layers, I will animate each storyboard using the markers on the audio track as cus points. Occasionally two or three storyboards will be combined into a single comp. These are usually previewed at 1/2 rez just to check timing and framing. I call these pencil tests and I render them in the background using the Adobe media encoder while I am working on the next storyboard.
When all of the "pencil tests" have been rendered I drop them into Premiere and do first pass at the sound mix. If the client is experienced I will send him the pencil test with the first sound mix and a watermark for review.
When everything is approved I go back into the AE comps and add motion blur, color, textures and lighting effects to each comp and then render a digital intermediate that I will use to replace the "pencil test" renders in the Premier Pro sequence.
I know that sounds like a lot of work but I am finished and a lot less time with a lot fewer revisions by working this way. I use basically the same workflow to cut a feature film or commercial. A workflow very similar to this is used by every successful production house I have ever worked with. Get something done so you can get approval of the copy and the flow of the story then polish it up on the shot lad a time until you are satisfied.
Here's one that I put together a couple years ago in about 10 hrs Including writing the script, recording the audio, and getting client approval. This was the second draft with a scratch audio track record on my iPhone. If I remember correctly the only keyframes in the entire project are for the light shimmer across one word. All the rest is animation presets.