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Yes, you take the massive image and AE will handle it either seen small or at 100%, it'll so the antialiasing for you etc.
Make a Null layer.
Make the null a 3D Layer by clicking on that 3d cube checkbox on the layer control.
Select Null layer, press P. Right click on Position, select separate dimensions.
Keyframe Z. with position 0.
Make a camera, 35mm is fine. parent it to the null.
Go to end of timeline, and add another keyframe for Position Z of Null, Change the value of Z to a massive number like 10k
Stick your images in the comp under camera, make them 3d layers. Position them at different Z points. No you can zoom into them...
For bitmap images you'll get better quality using this effect:
Distort > Detail-preserving Upscale.
If your assets are bitmapped then just having large originals will sort out your problem (as long as your don't scale over 100% of original size).
I'd recommend using vector assets if possible and then click the little 'continuously rasterize' button – this will keep vectors sharp, no matter how you scale them up:
I'm bashing my way through learning AE for a thing at work - a fairly simple video presentation of our projects using photos and arch-viz work.
Now, they want to use that there fancy-dandy zoom technique - like, we move into the scene towards a point, go through a door or window and into another image repeat ad nauseum... I tried the asset scaling technique while my comrade tried a moving camera. Both work well.
My questine is this - if we scale the assets they blur. Blur like your mother's hand giving your dad a handjob - we have the capacity to upscale images to +8x with almost no loss in detail. If we use those 8x assets and shrink them down in AE to match a 1080p display, will the resulting scaling up as they move towards the camera return them to their original 8x detail or will AE use the 1080p size as the starting point?