For me, it all depends on what the NEXT use is for my rendered AE work, and I render to a bunch of different codecs.
I do a lot of work in SD, my shop edits exclusively in FCP, and much of the source video is still Beta SP. The consensus among the editors here is that capturing and cutting in DVCPro 50 is okay. So I frequently render out of AE in DVCPro 50: no additional rendering needed.
We're shooting more and more HD, usually on P2 cameras that record DVCPro HD. So if I know that, I render in DVCPro HD.
We also have two Sony V1 HDV cameras -- hey, we got 'em for free, y'know? I've schooled our editors that working in an HDV capture codec is a very bad thing indeed, so they capture and cut in ProRes 422 when using those cameras. If we have to mix footage from P2 and HDV cameras, we also work in ProRes. For ProRes projects, guess the codec I render to -- yup, ProRes 422.
Now, if I have NO CLUE about the next use, I go with the highest-quality, most common denominator among codecs, and that's Quicktime's Animation codec -- it's lossless, it supports alpha channels, and every version of Quicktime on the planet can read it. Yeah, they may have to do some additional rendering, but it's no big deal.
I also like Quicktime's PNG codec because it's also lossless and supports alpha channels, and it makes smaller file sizes for complicated images. But for something not complicated, like animated lower-thirds, you can't beat Animation.
[joseph wilkins]"Is there something smaller that gives a close-to-lossless look without the huge file size? "
Let me quote former president Harry S Truman: "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."
Meaning this -- if you can't stand the big file sizes, perhaps you shouldn't be doing AE work. If you feel you should be doing AE work, then suck it up and get more storage.
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