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  • Writer's pictureedwardjamescoco

. . . not going to talk about it . . .

Well we all know about the elephant in the room, so I'm not going to mention it. It has hit everyone very hard. For those of us who have lost our jobs and those who have lost work, to the people who are at risk of losing their lives. And, of course, those who have dealt with the loss of life. As everyone keeps saying, these are challenging times indeed.

What I am going to talk about today is Corona! No, no. It's not what you think. It's just a case of horrible timing. I'm going to talk about the 3D rendering engine Corona Render. This high-powered realistic render engine has been gaining a lot of traction over the past few years. It's CPU-based; which is a bit of an anomaly with all of the GPU-based render engines out there. But it's ease-of-use is highly regarded (and appreciated) by those of us who already manage a ton of software in our daily routines.

I gave Corona Render a test run as an alternative to my usual Physical Renderer inside of Cinema 4d. I love the Physical Renderer, and I've learned to control it fairly well in order to get the results I want. But the realism doesn't compare to engines like Octane, Redshift, V-Ray, and Corona (not to mention a dozen others). To get started with a 3rd party render engine you have to be ready to re-texture your models, get used to a new material system entirely, and be prepared to set up your lighting using methods you haven't tried before. You'll also have to sift through a new render menu with all kinds of bells and whistles. Corona keeps all of this pretty simple; especially compared to some of the other packages I've tried.

I jumped right into someone else's model, to save some time, and I moved things around and added some characters. By doing this I had a scene ready to go, and I focused on the material system and the new lighting controls. After some simple experimentation, I dove into the render settings and quickly rendered some samples.

Corona Renderer : test scene image 01

The results were immediately impressive. I was stunned with the realism. So, of course I started tweaking and playing. My favorite aspects; the ease of use, the speed of the render, the extreme realism. I had this thing up and running in no time.

Corona Renderer : test scene image 02

My next experiment was to take an old model and convert it over to Corona. In about a half-hour I was able to import the old model, convert the materials, change the lighting, and adjust the render settings. Corona helps with the material conversion, using an internal conversion script. But there's always a little tweaking to do after that, to make sure the material is really looking the way you'd like it.

iHeart Radio Country Music 2019: scene using Corona

iHeart Radio Country Music 2019: scene using Physical Renderer

I had to make some adjustments, for various reasons. Some materials never converted correctly, I wanted to try a different character model, and I was trying to keep the translation as fast as possible. Also, the Corona render is straight from the engine, while the original image was brought into Photoshop and tweaked quite a lot. Things like the light bulbs were all Photoshopped in the original, but were in the actual render with the Corona version.

My verdict? Well Corona blew the original render time out of the water. It was about half the time. That was nice. And it's nice not having to go into every sketch and add things like "light bulb glow" using Photoshop. That's often frustrating. But with this type of scenery (and a lot of stuff I design) I have to question whether the realistic render engine really does it justice. After all, the sketch is a sales tool. You want a certain level of heightened realism vs. actual realism. Could I achieve that with Corona? Probably. But is it worth it to make a rendering very realistic, only to go back and augment it? Or is it better to work towards the augmented version from the start?

A lot of this will be put to the test when I start a project from scratch; so I'm holding back any conclusions. I can say this: I've had a lot of fun with Corona Render, and I've learned a lot in just a few days. I've already done an exterior architectural scene (which I can't show yet, because the project is in development) that got me great results in just one day of modelling and rendering. There's a lot of instant gratification to this render engine; and that inspires more intense learning and studying.

Thanks for listening! If you're finding yourself with a little free time on your hands these days, I would check it out. They offer a nice demo period for free use. More than enough time to decide if you'd like to go with the pay version. I think you'll learn a lot about these 3rd party render engines, even if you ultimately decide to stick with an internal option.

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