I'm worried that a lot of things can go wrong that prevent the pictures and animations of my final project from looking the best.
I'm now planning for rendering the sequence in ProRes (maybe the highest setting?) and exporting all the graphics out of AE as ProRes (the highest setting, or Animation?). Are there other things I should do to make sure my graphics look good? Is there an article on this?
Is there anything I should know when I send it Compressor? Lately, I've been selecting DVD Best Quality for whatever time length it is.
ProRes 444 timeline and you will be fine.
...but for DV-resolution footage, ProRes 4444 is pretty much overkill. It is for most footage. Stick with ProRes 422 and you'll be just fine.
Bear in mind that even at Compressor's best settings, mpeg2 video will still be highly compressed. Even though I dooubt it, you might notice a loss in image quality. But you will have made the best-quality DVD you possibly could have made.
Sr. Promotion Producer
KCRG-TV (ABC) Cedar Rapids, IA
If you're working in HD or SD timelines, just use standard ProRes - you will not see any quality improvement over this codec, even for broadcast.
Graphic elements from Motion or AE are best rendered out as ProRes 4444 if it has any transparancy (alpha channel) or plain old prores if they're full frame (or rendered against a background).
All of your attempts to maintain quality will be mostly wasted anyway when you make a DVD - the compression is far worse than any editing codec FCP can muster.
Edit Out Ltd
FCP Editor/Trainer/System Consultant
EVS/VT Supervisor for live broadcast
RED camera transfer/post
[zeke meginsky] "Is there anything I should know when I send it Compressor? Lately, I've been selecting DVD Best Quality for whatever time length it is."
There is a forum for Compressor.
There is a search function on the forums.
There are tutorials on the forums.
Final Cut has a comprehensive manual.
Consider doing some short tests to see what looks/works best, you will learn a lot by doing that. That goes for your entire workflow, not just the output.
The reason I say this, is that you seem to have some gaps in your basic knowledge based on a couple of your posts.
But I don't want to be accused of not answering a direct question, so here goes.
Considering your level of knowledge, go with the 'best' preset. You can make changes in the settings or do it manually, but it is also possible to end up with a coaster if you don't know what your doing. There is good real world info on maximum bitrates, CBR vs VBR, etc in the Compressor forum if you want to experiment.
Keep in mind that 'best' is making an assumption that your material is the proper length for the disc. There is no magic bullet that will make compressing 150 min of material look as good as 60 min.
After reading this, and an earlier post about how to obtain best quality in you work "Good tips for post production, DV footage.", a couple of thoughts come to mind.
There is only so much post can do with DV footage, and you even said that in an earlier post. Nothing has changed since then. DV is still DV. Stacking a bunch of filters, or plugins in an attempt to 'improve' your material will probably degrade it, not improve it. The best way to have a high quality final, is to start with high quality footage that doesn't need extensive post fixing.
And unless you're shooting with a 2K plus frame size, or doing extensive composite work, going PR422HQ, or 444 will not make your DV footage look like it was shot with a Panavision Genesis and is complete overkill and a waste of time and space. Nor will a dozen plugins. I would have to agree with Shane, that if you want the very best grading, let a pro do it. But for a DV acquired project going to DVD, that too may be overkill. It is possible to DIY in either FCP or Color, but there is a learning curve. The less 'help' your material needs, the easier it is to DIY the grade. If your stuff just needs levels tweaked a bit, and your shots are reasonably close to matching, the 3WCC might be all you need.
And if you really want better quality final, start by improving your acquisition and quit shooting in DV. It's a fifteen year old format that doesn't hold up well in post, and isn't a quality acquisition format at all.
I have a system, it has stuff in it, and stuff hooked to it. I have a camera, it can record stuff. I read the manuals, and know how to use this stuff and lots of other stuff too.
You should be suitably impressed...