Hi, I've got this question too.
Specifically, what should I choose in AE? I can't see h264. I am getting huge files for a video under 3 minutes.
I would prefer not to use AME as this machine is not powerful, and nothing can do about it.
(link above seems to be a conversation re YT)
What you choose all depends on what you need to DELIVER. We don't know that, so we'd only be guessing with any advice.
AE doesn't have H.264 any more AFAIK, and you won't get small exports regardless of what you chose. You need to use AME, it will render much quicker and give smaller file sizes.
It's just a basic video to be embedded on our company website. Here's a YT video that works, what's the go to setting for this? If AE can't realistically output (still amazing to me) and I need to go to AME then I have to take into account all the time for effectively double rendering (god forbid there'll be amends... )
Oh that embedded video just a link to a link to YouTube. No special HTML5 stuff -- which AE can't do in the first place -- is necessary. However, you do need to talk with your web folks. YouTube videos have standard dimensions, and any web design must take that fact into account.
And of course, you'll be encoding your AE work to YouTube specifications. Fortunately, Adobe Media Encoder has a YouTube Preset. The good news continues -- You can set up AME to Encode TWO versions of a file at the same time. One's for YouTube, plus a lossless one for the archives.
It can all be done by doing an Export To AME... I THINK that's what it's called. Haven't used it personally. But what happens is this -- you tell AME to do the specified encoding, and it does it while you return to AE to work on other things. Pretty neat.
From your comments, I get the notion you think this whole process should be a LOT faster. Sorry, it's not.
AE rendering speeds depend on what you're doing. There are seasoned 25-year AE veterans who work on extremely complex AE work, and they don't blink an eye at render times of two minutes PER FRAME. I repeat -- per frame, not per second. So your render times of a couple of hours for a couple of minutes is pretty negligible. You get used to it.
Bottom line -- don't discount Adobe Media Encoder. Learn it. Embrace it in your workflow. Thing will get better.