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>because after effects can't read sony ex-1 mxf clips.
What version of AE? CS4 should be able to read these formats. Other than that, your question covers far too great an area to provide a comprehensive answer, so just the quick version
Archiving: external hard drives by the mile. Cheap, reliable and readily available when needed - plug in, switch on. Files remain in original source format.
Web: QT H.264 or Flash Video
Computers: See above. On PCs, add WMV to the pot.
Broadcast/ Intermediate: Uncompressed, QT Animation, QT Microcosm, ProRes, H.264
We haven't upgraded to CS4 yet, we use CS3. My colleague has tried CS4 though and didn't get mxf to work anyway, but he only tested the program at a friends briefly. We use a Sony EX-1 with the redrock adapter.
To comment your answer uncompressed and animation is too large to be economic for us, microcosm and prores i have never heard of. Thus H.264 sounds like the most interesting format. The thing is that you want to use a format that is most like a standard. Is the h.264 going to be here for a while or soon replaced. Motion Jpeg-B i know A LOT of companies, freelancers and broadcast stations that use. But i really would like to change our default format to h.264 if it is reliable as we also have noticed certain issues with Motion Jpeg-b.
Thanks for your time Mylenium!
H.264 is even standardized by ISO, so you can assume that even when in 10 years it has been surpassed by other methods, you would still find tools that can handle it. I'd have to do some reading up, but there's even a special sub-format of it for archival purposes... Microcosm was/is a commercial, wavelet-based CoDec developed by Digital Anarchy, but now that they have handed over their IP for AE plugins to Red Giant, things are uncertain. They promised to release it for free, but with no promises of how long they will keep it alive. At our company we use it a lot for graphics and 3D animations, as it's one of the few CoDecs that supports 16bpc on PCs. Prores is Mac only, so this may not be an option.