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A simple pulldown should do. Or not? Has worked for movies for decades and is even properly explained in the help.
I got it figured out. I know all about the pulldown and have read about it, but the problem was I tried guessing the pulldown in AE and it just wouldn't do it ... no idea why. However, upon bringing it into Premiere, the problem was solved. I guess Premiere does a better job handling pulldowns than AE? Regardless, I'm happy to say it's resolved :-)
You are taking your footage from 24 fps to 29.97 fps, right? The pulldown options in the footage interpretation are for
pulldown (i.e. going from ~30fps to ~24 fps). To apply a pulldown to your rendered movie, leave the comp frame rate at 24 fps*, queue the movie to render, and set the pulldown options in the Render Settings.
*actually 23.976 fps will get you to 29.97 fps once pulldown is applied. 24 fps will give you 30 fps. You might want to adjust either the comp frame rate, which will drop frames, or adjust the render settings, which will slightly change the playback speed, to conform your final movie to 29.97, if needed.