I made an animation with an environment texture in the background and I would like to have one render layer with only the background image and another render layer with all the objects on a transparent background.

I tried to uncheck the "Use Environment" on the objects render layer, but this rendered the objects on a black background (not transparent). On the other side if I set the film to transparent in the render settings, then the objects are on a transparent background (as I want), but the background layer is empty.

I use Cycles for rendering.

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    $\begingroup$ This is usually achieved by enabling "Transparency" in Film panel (to get the foreground) as you did and "Environment" in Passes panel (to store the background). See related questions: Sky-only pass with the foreground knocked out? and How can I combine two render layers? $\endgroup$ – Carlo Dec 3 '15 at 1:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Carlo Thank you, it works! (I didn't notice that there is another environment option in the passes) $\endgroup$ – WannaKnow Dec 3 '15 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ Good! "Use Environment" is an option that merely control the influence of the background on the scene (reflections, lighting...). $\endgroup$ – Carlo Dec 3 '15 at 1:52

Enable Transparent on the Film section and enable environment on your render passes. The background environment will be avalible by connecting the environment socket.

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Thank you! (Carlo was faster, but he only commented, so I will accept this...) $\endgroup$ – WannaKnow Dec 3 '15 at 1:53

One thing to keep in mind: if you render the Environment pass on the same layer as your foreground object, the shadow catcher plane will cut a hole in the Environment pass. This is bad if you want to then composite your foreground over the Environment as a background, as the area covered by the shadow catcher will be missing!

Same Layer Env Pass

In this scenario, instead render the Env pass on a 2nd render layer and composite as shown above by Cegaton:

Blender shadow catcher - render background separate

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