I am working on an animation project in After Effects. There is a little video in it, but it's mostly drawn from scratch and the comps are 1920 x 1080. I will edit the comps together in FCP. The work is going to be presented with a HD projector and a mac mini playing a quicktime of the project. I can't figure out what's the best codec to use when I render. What is the highest quality HD codec that will play back smoothly in Quicktime?
Not knowing the exact components of your animation you might consider ProRes 4:4:4:4 for very heavy compositing but alternately ProResHQ or even Uncompressed 10 bit 4:2:2. This is to move your source from After Effects to FCP.
Once done in FCP you can probably export to H.264 at the frame size appropriate to your HD projector (720p or 1080p depends on projector) at a high data rate 4-8Mbps maybe (it really depends on your content such as fast action, gradients vs solid colors, etc). This is assuming you have the newest MacMini which has a decent integrated graphics chip. If it's an older MacMini you might have to lower the data rate and stick to 720p. BTW you could even go with ProResLT for playback which I've done on a previous generation (late 2009) MacMini.
Thanks. That's actually what done in the past. I'll edit in Pro Res HQ and then make a regular ProRes version for the presentation Quicktime (the mac mini will play that just fine).
It looks OK, but it's always sad to see your work go from Animation to ProRes. For years I've been trying to figure out how to get the gallery show to look as good as it looks in my studio. Maybe I need special hardware?