If you want to render for any media player (QT or Windows) you must use a square pixel format that's appropriate to the codec you're using. AE's presets that use square pixels are all legal frame sizes. If you want to have Premiere or any other NLE playback footage you render in After Effects without having to re-render the previews you must use the same codec you're using for the sequence.
Your frame size from Premiere is NOT square pixels, it's DVC Pro HD with a 1.33 PAR so unless you bring that footage into a square pixel comp (1920 X 1080 for example) or resize it on export using the Adobe Media Encoder (recommended) or by Resizing in the Output Module (not recommended for a bunch of reasons) the output is going to look squeezed in any media player.
Rendering to the Xvid MPEG 4 codec from AE isn't recommended at all because MPEG codecs only give good results when you use multi pass ending (AME will do that), but more importantly MPEG codecs are GOP codecs which make up the data for several virtual frames from a few real (i frames), and they take a tremendous amount of CPU power to decode.
Your best rendering choices are a lossless 10 bit codec (black magic for example) or a lossless like Animation Quicktime if you need alpha channels, or nearly lossless codec like Photo JPEG QT at 95% quality when you're doing further production on the footage including color correction, or to render to the same codec the camera uses. Only the same codec used for your PPro sequence will give you smooth playback in Premiere Pro without rendering previews.
If you told us what codec the camera uses we'd be able to help you figure out the best option for rendering.
Thank you - that definitely explains a lot... Rendering/compressing has always been alien territory to me.
Hm, I'm not sure where to look to find out what codec my camera was recording in... though, I think it's AVCHD (IF that is a codec at all) - it's all I can seem to find. (I filmed with a SONY HDR-CX150 Handycam®)
You're probably right about the AVCHD. That's an exception to the render to the same codec rule in my book because AVCHD is so compressed and is a GOP codec. If that's what your original footage is I'd suggest living with rendering the previews (render complete work area) in Premiere and using a lossless or nearly lossless codec in AE. If your whold project is going to require a bunch of video processing or extensive color correction I'd suggest transcoding your original footage to a suitable I Frame codec for production. The choice depends on your OS. On a Mac, for most work, I transcode to ProRez HQ. For the rest I transcode to ProRez 444 except on the machine that has the Black Magic capture card. On that machine I transcode most to the Black Magic 10 bit codec.
You can get an idea of the codec by checking the properties of the file or by looking to the right of the preview window in the Project panel when the footage is selected.
Yeah, my original footage is AVCHD. (-___-)
Guess I'm going to have to transcode into a I Frame codec - I do need to do quite a bit of video processing.
So, should I first transcode the original footage with an external program (I'm guessing Adobe Media Encoder can do this) prior to editing in After Effects? or would it better to edit the original footage in After Effects (since it DOES play smoothly) and render it into the ProRez 444 codec? Also, what's the best file format to render my edited footage, IF there's a preferred format type for ProRez 444 (esp. considering anything I edit in AE needs further processing in Premiere Pro - thus, it looks like 2 renders will be required before the final product, so I don't want too much quality to be lost through the renders)?
Note: my video card is Intel(R) Graphics Media Accelerator HD.
Ack! I can't find ProRes 444 anywhere! I don't have to buy Apple Final Cut Pro, right, just to get it?
ProRez comes with Final Cut. You could download one of the Black Magic Codecs or use PhotoJpg at 95% quality if you don't need alphas.