Yes, it´s possible. Finally she is rigged! So a few sleepless nights here and there payed off.
Now, she can unfold her true sinisterness and unleash her terror. Ok, so much for the drama.
But first things first (even even though I have to appologize for the late respond):
Martin, thanks alot! So I guess we let her kick now some a**es!! Yeah!
Paulius, many thanks to you. I highly appreciate. About the passes. XSI renders with the main rendering at the same time the specularity pass, diffuse pass, reflectivity pass and the refraction (transparency) in the .pic format, which automaticly includes the alpha. There is no effect on rendertime here. As custom passes I render an ambient occlusion pass, cause he get´s alot of real deepness and a realistic light behaviour. Than comes the depth pass for depth of field and other effects like smoke etc. And in this case at last the shadow pass, to have the possibility to tweak the shadows where needed (especially in the case of an Alien, because of the very dark nature).
So about your question, what time they take to render. That´s of course hardware related. In my case, everything was done on a Dell Inspiron 1720 Notebook with 3 Gig RAM and running a (unfortunately) 32 bit system. LOL. Ok, but I got it done. It is obvious, that an 64 bit system with at least 8 gig would have spared my alot of time and trouble (especially with stupid mental ray crashes). But the next private investment comes for sure.
To come to the point: I render in raytracing mode in a resulotion of 1900 to 1080 p. The main passes come nicly in about 4 to 5 min. Depth and shadow just take under one min each. But of course, the AO pass eats time. Up to 12 min it can take. Yeah, I know. That´s not smooth.
About the rigg. Paulius, I mainly rigged small characters by now and mainly low poly game characters. The Queen is maybe the most complex rig I´ve done by now. Another reason, it took a bit longer. But I learned alot about rigging again. I can´t say, how much difference there is between the programs. I work in XSI and I work, or worked in Max (but not much rigging in Max). The rigging process in XSI is imo very handy and logic. It gives you alot of freedom too, to experiment in the behaving of the bones towards each other, via different constraints. I can only recommend XSI for many reasons. I just hope that the recent events (Autodesk takeover) make no huge impact on that wonderfull program.
You asked about muscles. In that case, I mean an Alien or other insect kind of beings, it is in many cases easier to lay the bones and to make a decent envelope of the mesh. So there is not much outer streching or bulking of the mesh, as in other organic movements. But in that case, XSI has the great possibility of shape deforming and key driven cluster deformation. That means, if a movement of a mesh reaches a decent key or position in the animation, the mesh deformes via a reorganizing of the vertexes, which was done manually before. Like a smile on a face, or like a bulking of a muscle when contracted.
Than finally to your question about my work experience. As I am a professional industrial designer, I started my 3d work mainly in consturction. That means CAD. Starting with Auto CAD, Pro engenier and in my case long time Solid Works as well as Alias. I started about 8 years ago the same time to use 3D MAX. We did it in university to render our surface stuff, which was pure geometry. Not so likely to watch or present. Many people automaticly went from Alias (former Wavefront) to Maya (former Wavefront too, now Autodesk…) but I was allready a bit familiar with MAX because of games. A few years later, and mainly because of the fact that Half Life 2 was using Softimage XSI as basis for the Engine models, I started to use XSI and I never let it go again!
And If anybody has now read all this and is not sleeping or bored to death…here we go again:
And what the rigg looks like:
So, I would be happy for some C & C and maybe some hints for the ultimate Killer pose