I'm trying to figure out the best way to create a breakdown reel of some of my VFX work. Essentially what I'm need to do is show a second of video, pause, start from the base plate and then have each little thing turn on sequentially. The problem is some of these shots have close to 50 layers that would need to build up. Is there some way to automate this so I don't have to go effect by effect and create a still to stack up?
I don't think that you need to show all 50 layers - you can most likely break all of it down to 3-4 steps. Render a pass for each step and then cut/fade or transition as you see fit from the initial footage through the rendered intermediary stages on to the final. You may add a few lines of type describing key elements of the process over still frames after a transition.
That being said, I would recommend only one or two of these in a reel- the most important thing is to make it memorable, with a bang and a WOW- in a word: entertaining!