Saturday, May 23, 2015

Stuff and things, things and stuff

Continued practicing with Corona, updating my "end credits sequence" with what I feel is nicer lighting:

And also have begun reworking a 2013 Modo scene in Max with Corona, still want to do more work on this, but already I feel I am more quickly getting the results I wanted first time around!

Then set to work experimenting with Sketchfab from Max, for a particular idea I am playing with - that included getting something generated with particles and then uploaded there. Needs more added though, so exploring more about particles, looking to try and make some paint splashes!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


In the ongoing search for more, new or better tools, have been testing out the Corona renderer for 3DS Max

So far, so good, though I am still learning my way around it to get the best from it, plus to find out when it is best applied. And since everyone loves bullet points. some initial thoughts on my experiences these last few days -

- Interactive Rendering
This I like. Set this running, and whenever you change something in the scene, the render updates. Great for tweaking materials, no need to change, hit render, wait, change, hit render, etc and so on.

With the non-bucket approach to rendering, you can usually get a very good idea of how something looks within a few seconds (at least in the non-heavy test scenes I've been using), which is a blessing for speeding up workflow.

I'll add another thing to that, even with a full render running, 3DS Max remains responsive. Running any Scanline or MentalRay render locks up Max, but with Corona you can keep working - unless it's an interactive render, you won't see the results of the changes in the ongoing render, but it's still a boon to be able to start tweaking things as the render emerges and not have your program paralyzed during the rendering process.

- Inbuilt Distributed Rendering for single frames
This is nice, no need to call up backburner, just run the Corona DR Server application on each slave, enable DR in the options in Max, and it will use all those machines on a single frame just from clicking Render.

I've not created a heavy enough scene with a long enough render time to see just how time-saving this can be, but it is a nice transparent approach to getting all your machines working on a single render.

- Nice lighting
I do like the look of the lighting from the engine! Check out their gallery to see what I mean (I haven't done anything close to these myself yet, though will try to do a side-by-side comparison one of these days, workload permitting!)

- Set a time for each frame
I like this for test renders of animations, just set how long each frame is allowed to run for. This gives you control over just how long that test render will take! Very useful for when you want to test motion, and don't care about seeing details and materials.

- Completely different controls
I come from Modo, and the Max Scanline and MentalRay renderers, so can't speak for how the transition is from others like VRay, but some controls are very different. For example, there is no actual direct Anti-Aliasing control, but rather this is a product of the GI vs AA Balance and the Light Samples Multiplier settings (see this article about it on the Corona site)

There are also no controls for things like "number of caustic photons" and other settings that I was used to from MentalRay, so it takes a shift in mindset to navigate around the engine and know what to adjust for particular situations. Still learning!

- Helpful pop-ups!
Mouse over any of the settings and you get a pop-up that tells you a bit about it, usually mentioning the default settings (so that when you muck about with the values, you can find how to get back to what the Corona team think is the best value!)

- Handy Conversion Script
It comes with a script you can run that will convert materials and lights over to Corona-compatible ones, a great way to swap an existing scene over to the new engine.

- Not yet compatible with 3DS Max 2016
Which isn't bothering me much, as Max 2016 runs more slowly through Backburner than it does on a single machine by up to 10 times as much, totally negating the benefits of setting multiple machines working on it; so until that is fixed, I'm still using 2015 only anyway.

- Hiding a light turns it off
Hide the light in the scene list, and it doesn't render. Maybe I just missed some setting with the other engines, but I always had to go to the light properties and disable it there to stop it rendering.

- Awesome approach to ownership
You can buy it outright, or you can pay a monthly fee to have access to it, which you can start or stop at any time (about $30 at the time of writing). I like that approach, rather than spending thousands upfront - I can have it when I need it, leave it to one side when I don't (though I am expecting I won't be leaving it to one side from what I've seen so far!)

Heck, there is even a free version, a pre-release version for sure, but it's free. Completely free, and always will be. I like the way they think!


So, that's it for now. Still exploring, will post stuff when I get something worth showing! So far though, hats off

Friday, May 15, 2015

Farewell BB King

BB King passed away today, very sad. I'd post a link to an epic, seminal performance by him, but that was pretty much all of them so choose any you like. Heart and soul were expressed through his music, but you could also see it in him as a person too - something about him just seemed so bright, warm and light.