I think I know what is happening.
The audio files were recorded and/or sampled at 30 fps. When outputting from AM in QT Mov codec (even though I specify 24 fps), it is outputting to the 30 fps in the audio file. I opened up just the audio file in QT player and Audacity and each read file as 4.73 sec. When importing just the audio file into a 30 fps timeline, it reads in as 4.73 sec.
When I import the QT Mov (the 30 fps one) with the audio file that is rendered at supposed 24 fps, the audio files line up exactly at 4.73 sec in the timeline.
I also compared the QT Mov file and the individual PNG files against each other. The 202 PNG files at 24 fps reads at 8.12 sec. The QT Mov file at 30 fps reads as 6.73 sec with 162 frames. If you take 202 and divide by 30, you will get 6.73 sec.
In AM, the audio file is in an Action for the character. That Action is 4.73 sec long as it correlates to the audio file.
Also, in AM, the Timeline (when Units are Cels), the animated character goes from frame 1 to 202. When Units are set to SMPTE, it's length is 6.21 or roughly equivalent to 6.73 seconds; which would correspond to 30 fps not 24 fps that I have setup in Units. Ok, I'm writing this as I test out different things. So, the following is my observations as I test.
So, now I'm totally bewildered. If I'm animating at 24 fps, and my animated character is moving for 6.73 seconds, I should only have 162 frames (6.73 times 24). So, how am I getting 202 frames out of the 6.73 seconds? Well, 6.73 seconds times 30 fps equals 202. ????
However, in the QT Mov file with audio at 30 fps, it's length is 162 frames. That's the 24 fps frame count.
So, now I'm thinking that alot of my "floating animation look" has been due to thinking I'm animating at 24 fps (ie, my characters arm moves in 1/2 second or 12 frames) but in reality, when rendering out individual frames, it's actually creating more frames based on a 30 fps timeline. ??
I did a short test with one character. I started each arm out at frame 1 in a horizontal position. The right arm I animated at 24 fps. So, at frame 1 arm is outstretched, at 12 frames arm is down by side, and at 24 frames arm is again outstretched. This should be a one second action. I rendered out frames 1 to 24, for a total of 24 frames.
With the left arm, I switched the Timeline to SMPTE and animated by seconds; ie, 0 seconds outstretched, 1/2 second down by side, 1 second outstretched. However, when rendering out 1 second, I have 30 individual PNG files. Eventhough, in the Units panel, I have 24 fps.
I'm thinking, I have to re-render each shot again, and use the QT Mov file with audio for the audio and correct action per frame. Because, eventhough the QT Mov file with audio reads as 30 fps, it's total frame count correlates to the frame time for the given action. With the example above, my 6.73 second action should only be 162 frames at 24 fps.
I'm now thoroughly confused and need a nap.