Is there a best practices on compositing various elements into a single comp? Is it better to create each separate element, export them as a film, then import these rendered files back into a larger comp? Or is just pre-comping such elements and arranging them in a larger nested comp the way to go? Seems the latter would result in some really complex files as each element has it's own motion and effects.
I think you need to ask yourself how complicated is this project and how fast is your computer? I've been able to build almost everything with out having to export part of it and then bring it back into the project. Pre-comping can keep things better organized and help you move a bunch of stuff easily. Here is a link to my YouTube channel if you want to get an idea of how complex the projects get that I have worked on: http://www.youtube.com/lonepeakproductions
Hope this helps and best of luck.
Thanks. Precomposing will work in some cases, but there are other cases where I just want to clean up all the layers in the timeline (yet still preserve the ability to go in and manipulate them). I am creating comps with several animated characters and each character has several parts. In the project file I can keep track of things by putting all elements of a character into one folder, but I don't see "create new folder" as an option in the timeline. Any thoughts?
So I Googled around some more and found that "folders in timeline" is a common idea, but it could make rendering more complex. Perhaps CS6 has solved this. I may try some old parenting and shy-ing to keep things a bit cleaner.