At some point or another all 3D artists have been asked to, or have had to setup up passes for a production they are working on. XSI has one of the most powerful pass setup and managment systems I have ever worked on, however it has its pros and its cons. Working within a few simple guidelines can make a world of difference to your workflow! Here are my top 5 tips!
1) Explorer is your Friend
This may be obvious to some, but not to others…. but it really makes a world of difference! The explorer is probably the easiest ways to manage your passes efficiently and quickly! Just open it up by hitting ‘8’, then by hitting ‘p’ to take you to the passes!
2) Never Duplicate the Current Pass
When you are busy working in the render options never click Pass -> Edit -> Duplicate Current Pass. Its a straight up time saver. Duplicating the active pass simply takes XSI double if not longer to duplicate a pass. Having moved to another pass or the original ‘Default_Pass’ seems to clear up resources that allows XSI to create a new pass quicker by simply using cntrl+d in the explorer.
3) Make an Empty Pass
An empty pass may seem silly, but in heavier scenes it may simply be the quickest route to setup a new pass. Duplicating passes (cntrl+d in the explorer) functions and works well, but when scenes become large and complex and you have many partitions with multiple overrides within each partition, they can really take a long time to duplicate. The only draw back is that if you are not rendering to .pic format you will need to change that every time you create a new pass. In my opinion, better that than wait for ages for a pass to duplicate (or not to duplicate and XSI to crash)
4) Hide Base Partitions
I have heard arguments against this, but in my opinion a good starting point is to always keep your ‘Background_Objects_Partition’ and the ‘Background_Lights_Partition’ set to ‘Hide Members’ on both View & Render Visibility. The reason for this is simple, if you are working in a team, and each shot file grows as elements are added (by different people) such as a back plate, then the foreground animation, and then background extras, you need the person who is going to open the file next and import more objects not to be worried by the fact that they may be changing the passes that were setup before them. Turning off these partitions to start with means that any new object imported will simply be hidden and never effect passes as your scene goes forward.
5) Create Passes Based on Layers
Here is a tip for those users creating multiple passes for the same group of objects. Using the New Pass -> Based on Layers option, will change your work flow forever. Effectively you create and store all your partitions as layers, you place all your objects and all your lights in their own specific layers. This speeds up the process of creating new passes because all your partitions are setup during pass creation.
A few downfalls of the system include the fact that if you use your Layer Manager (shortcut = 6) for greater scene managment then you may not be willing to destroy your current layer setup for pass creation. A work around for this would be to create a layer system with your scene structure by using ‘nulls’ and grouping objects under nulls. You simply middle-click the null you wish to hide and hit ‘H’.
Note:- Make sure all layers are set to Visible, Renderable & Selectable, otherwise v7.0.1 x64 crashes.
Note:- All lights & objects in the ‘Layer_Default’ will be moved to a new partition. It will not be ignored and they will not be left in the ‘Background_Objects_Partition’ or the ‘Background_Lights_Partition’