For many of my really short video projects (1-2 minutes) I've used AME to export an Animation Quicktime file––I know, it results in huge files! However, my reasoning has been that keeping a big, lossless file means i can have a good file in the future to use to compress for Blu Ray, internet sites, etc.
However, on my most recent project I have to produce 3 7 minute episodes that have a lot of heavy graphics and effects in them, and AME has not been able to compress an Animation version of the first sequence without either audio or visual glitches (audio skips or corrupted, pink frames appear randomly in the video).
I'm looking for an alternative, a way to export my sequence into a file that is lossless (or virtually lossless) that can be used the way I've used Animation files.
Does anyone have a rundown or suggestions? I took a Compression class a few years ago but I confess my knowledge is a bit rusty in terms of finding a good alternative!
You didn't say which platform you were using. On the Mac, ProRes is a good option. For PC, download one of the following free codecs - Lagarith, UT, or Avid DNxHD. These will provide excellent quality for "mastering" purposes.
I think what Jeff said above is right. A good mezzanine codec that's visually lossless would serve you best - ProRes (Mac) or DNxHD (Mac/PC).
Some people (myself included) use a very high bit rate h.264 file as an archive (bear in mind that this is not a lossless codec). And then that can be saved to a hard drive or burned to a disc for long term storage. It really depends on your needs, storage space, budget, etc.
The other thing to bear in mind is that any format you pick will eventually be replaced. So you'll need to move your formats along as codecs update and change. Nothing is permanent in the video codec world!