How can I render all render passes for all of the frames of an animation in Cycles to different files or a file with multiple layers? I'm going to do the final compositing in another compositing package and I need to have access to the passes.

  • $\begingroup$ how is that related to file format ? $\endgroup$
    – Chebhou
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 10:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Chebhou, there was a second question - "what file format is better to use for this - EXR or DPX?", but I decided that the first question is more general and includes the second. So I removed the second question, but forgot to remove the tag, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Rumata
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 10:24
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    $\begingroup$ @zeffii I need to get as a result of rendering a sequence of images where, within each image recorded passes. I'm going to do the final compositing in Nuke, and I need to have access to the passes. $\endgroup$
    – Rumata
    Commented Apr 21, 2015 at 11:23

2 Answers 2


Render OpenExr Multilayer for Blender, Nuke and Natron. Go to the Scene Tab, enable all passes which key for compositing and set the Output Format in the Render Tab to OpenExr Multilayer.

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Blender automatically writes all enabled passes and layers as single channels to the EXR as expected.

For After Effects and Fusion I'd suggest render single EXR's. For more information on rendering passes and layers as EXR's, see: Save all render passes to a single EXR image.

Note: If you want to use Index Passes (IndexOB or IndexMA) see this answer: How to use index passes in other compositing packages?


Another alternative is to render out to separate image sequences. This is handy if you want to output to different render formats for each Render Pass. As well it gives you the flexibility to only re-render some passes if need be.

You can do this by piping the Render Pass outputs into a File Output node. You can add additional inputs to the FO node and make different file format settings for each (notice the first four inputs are set to PNG output while the last two are set to 32bit EXR format).

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  • $\begingroup$ There is also a script, which does this automatically - maybe we can improve it :) Also mentioned in my answer above: blender.stackexchange.com/questions/16152/… $\endgroup$
    – p2or
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 7:40
  • $\begingroup$ Todd, thank you for taking the time. Yes, it does answer my question, thank you very much! :) In my searches I also found this tutorial (which uses v2.8+) and this seemed to be the most elegant method. youtube.com/watch?v=thc0-1ze8po There's just so many ways to skin this cat with things like this, so I appreciate the other methods you've posted. It all helps. :) $\endgroup$
    – Mat Brady
    Commented Aug 13, 2021 at 2:22

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