I've found I can get a really great compression for proofs if I render out of AE as Lossless-Animation, and then open in Quicktime and 'Export for Web'. Afterwards, I rename the .m4v file to .mov and I have a fantastic small sized file that opens great on both Windows and Macs.
Can anyone tell me how to get these results without the extra step through Quicktime? I also do a lot of editing, and it would be amazing to be able to export directly out of Final Cut Pro, and still retain the high quality and file size.
Just a note, if I export out of Final Cut Pro, and then try to 'Export for Web' through Quicktime, only the audio is brought along. I usually end up exporting from Final Cut, importing to AE, then rendering out to finally use Quicktime.
after effects won't do a good job of compression to a codec like that. to get good image quality and small file size, it would need to compare the frame it just rendered to the frames it rendered prior and the frames that it will need to render after to then write that frame (intraframe compression). it would a pretty tricky feat.
the type of compression after effects can handle is compression done one frame at a time (interframe compression), like jpeg compression for instance.
so you method of rendering to a high quality codec and then compressing is the best way to get good quality at a small file size.