It is a complete nightmare, I know what you mean there. I used to try rendering dof in maya when I first started and because you don't have much control over your settings either you have to test render and wait again and again because it's difficult to get it right and once you have indirect illumination and materials it's just painful that's why I mentioned it.
We have a tutorial on the site that covers how it's done in After Effects in contrast to Maya, you could use other comp software it's more about the principle
It's an interesting tutorial, you can read a review on it here. I agree with what was said in this one, it's stuffed with information and it covers dynamics, lighting, materials and rendering with cameras and dof but it moves quite fast for someone new to Maya. The animation's cool it was on the banner on the old site we just haven't had time to add it to the page yet.