I have an animation question that's been killing me for years. I want to know if there is anyway to create an alpha type layer in maya to hide certain areas of geometry. A great example of what i'm talking about is the pixar short Presto: http://fliiby.com/file/62746/o34u18vx4k.html
There are objects going in and out of the hats and i need that exact technique to show proteins being made and ejected from the ribosome. Is this just crazy good compositing?
Yeah, this looks like its likely some compositing to me.
There may be some way you can set this up through advanced hypershade technique. Would be something similar to a compositing set up - somehow subtract a reference piece of geometry's alpha from the rendered image.
Or otherwise, you could render that reference geometry out and then subtract it in a compositor.