It's a great thing when your profession is also your hobby. I get paid to model, texture, rig, animate and composite. If I didn't....I'd still spend all of my free time modeling, texturing, rigging, animating and compositing. Sure, it can become tedious and frustrating at times - but eventually you learn to separate out your client work from your emotional and artistic instincts and enjoy working on 'other people's projects' when you don't have time for your own. That's kind of the curse of this industry - we all got in it to work on 'our own stuff'.....our own artistic endeavorers. However, those don't generally pay the rent - so you have to do those in your free time. Which brings us to a problem....time.
I'm 43, married and have 2 kids. I like spending time with my family, I like coaching basketball, I like to work out and I have a list of TV series a mile long that I'm into....not to mention first person shooters. Where do you find time for personal projects? Where do you find time to learn new software? Or just keep up with the software you already know? I look at UnReal Engine 4 and I think "I want to learn that!"....Substance Designer and Painter "I want to learn that"....zBrush "Oh god why can't I remember how to do this!"....Maya "I really need to keep up to date"....Octane "Ohhh....can't wait to use this on a project"....DaVinci "I could really get into this"....Nuke "This is sitting right in front of me...I NEED to learn this"....Python "Dude, you were better at Basic on the Atari 800".....Softimage "Why did I buy this?" (lol).
Personal projects? The reality is it's extremely difficult to find time for these. I remember picking up an image of a jumping spider that I had been working on and was shocked to look at the file date and see that the last time I did anything was 2 years ago. The fact is, if you want to work, have a life and a family, learn new software AND work on personal projects...then sometime has to give. That thing is sleep....animators are undoubtedly a massively sleep deprived bunch. Like I said, I'm 43 and getting no sleep is getting kind of old. I've kind of resigned myself to waiting for retirement before tackling the projects I've always wanted to do. I don't know any 65 year old animators.....but it's not like we're all going to become Forest Rangers in our late years (ok....that IS my backup plan, I admit it). Anyway, just a stream of conscious post. This is such a young industry - full of people with their own ideas AND the talent to pull them off....just not the time. I predict a LOT of animated shorts and games developed by retired animators somewhere circa 2030!
Back to the business of the present, here is a video on Render Passes in MODO. It's long, but it's a complicated subject. The first part of the video describes scene states and what Render Passes really are. The middle part of the video goes over basic workflow, the UI and a bunch (and I mean a BUNCH) of potential 'gotchas'. The last third of the video goes over a certain workflow that I find works the best (IMO). Anyway, if you've ever been traumatized by MODO's Render Passes...then this video is for you.