Creative Strategies: Rendering Solution

With the main assets of our animation completed, we went to hit render, however the render times for each shot were huge which made things incredibly difficult to output a final product.

Thankfully Alec suggested a straight forward solution.

Render our backgrounds once as a still image and composite in the birds using a separate render layer and alpha mattes.

Pros – only render out a HD background once

Cons – If you want camera movement you’ll need to use the ‘shake overscan’ attribute in the camera to zoom out a bit and then add camera movement/zoom in after effects.

You’ll not be able to add dynamic motion to the grass/tree fur.

A break down of how it’ll work- Alec

‘Objects like the nest that are in front of the birds can be added to another render layer, then turned into an alpha cut-out so you should just be able to stick the birds in after effects above the background. In the nest close shot, you may need to render the tree fur as a layer over the top of the of the birds.’


The image shown above, is an example Alec showed us  to demonstrate how it would work.

Step 1: Create a separate layer with the corresponding colour you wish to apply to your background.


Step 2: Apply the single rendered out frame over the blue background as a new layer on top of the previous layer, in this case the tree and clouds from our scene onto of the blue coloured layer.


Step 3: Similar to step two,apply the rendered out single frame of the nest on a new layer within after after effects. (or Photoshop)


Step 4: Apply the object’s rendered layer under the nest layer but above the tree layer (in our case it’ll be our bird characters)


This way we can render out the render heavy environmental scene assets and layer our characters animation around these layers within after effects.

Key Information;

Selecting object/lights and putting them in different render layers (tab in the channel box in the bottom right corner of maya) Look at the render stats attribute for objects in the attribute editor

Alec’s turned off primary visibility for certain objects in different layers the sun and sky node

He then clicked on ‘use background’ you can add in sky colour in photoshop after in render settings >> quality >> framebuffer >> turn off pre-multiply (causes black outlines in after effects when comping rendered layers) in render settings >> common tab >> remove cameras you don’t want to batch render.

Un-rendered Image

unrenered tree

Rendered image


In the following example provided above, Alec was explaining how to apply our character animations to the still images:

‘When we want to just render our bird layer, and not the tree/background etc. Just click the green tick box on the render layer and the green tick will turn to a red cross to show it’s not going to batch render.’

Hopefully this method will save us a lot of time and stress when ever it comes to submitting our final project outcome,

Can’t thank you enough Alec! Absolute legend.




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