I usually have great success in not needing rendering. I take all of my clips and make them Apple ProRes 422 @29.97fps and everything works. The clip that defines the characteristics of the sequence is imported from AVCHD, so it's Apple ProRes 422 1920x1080 @29.97fps (HDTV 1080i).
Today, one of my clips wants to be 1024x768 @29.97fps and the sequence (and other clips) are HDTV 1080i @29.97. For some reason, the smaller frame-size clip needs rendering. If I use Mpeg Streamclip and scale it up (to 720p, for instance), then it doesn't need rendering. However, I want it in its actual size (1024x768).
I've been through this before and was able to use clips that were not 1920x1080 with success. This time, I need to render. What am I doing wrong?