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"Exporting" or "Rendering from the Render Queue" ? This is a common beginner's problem. You should only use "Export" for the few things that isn't available via the Render Queue.
Twirl open the "Render Details" in the Render Queue to see what AE is doing. If you are reading your sources from a network disk, most of your rendering time might actually be spent waiting for the network.
- Jonas Hummelstrand
CPU usage is utterly dictated by the target format you render to. Several Quicktime CoDecs are not multithreaded as are some image formats and most AVI-related stuff. If you want to maximize performance, render to image sequences using the multiprocessing option, then run an assembly render to combine the frames into the fianl movie file.
I´m usually exporting to uncompressed avi and also with that cpu usage is very low. always between 4-15%. Is there something in the render settings that can cause so low usage or is it only the format issue??
As Jonas suggested, CPU utilization may be somewhat low because the bottleneck isn't the processing of the data but moving (reading and writing) it.
I'm not saying that this is necessarily what's going on for you, but it's worth pointing out that the CPU is often not the bottleneck.
If disk I/O is what's slowing you down, one way that you can speed things up is to use three disks for your work: one to run the program from, one to store input assets, and one to write output files to.
There are a lot of tips for improving performance in the "Improve performance" section of After Effects CS3 Help on the Web.