How to use Corona Renderer to render a 3ds Max animation

11.12.2017
Jack Davies Marketing Manager
Home >Blog >How to use Corona Renderer to render a 3ds Max animation

After Jack’s thoughts on the future of V-ray and Corona, we bring you this detailed tutorial from Dorothy at D-Zine Lounge.

D-Zine Lounge was asked to create a 60 second animation to showcase a client’s products – shutters and blinds.

“We needed to model five different rooms in a house with various shutters and blinds,” explained Dorothy, “and we needed to animate these products within the rooms to show how they each affected the light in different seasons and times of day.

“We were given the storyboard and room layouts, plus some ideas of the types of furnishings required in the different rooms, and given create freedom.”

This tutorial will give you an insight into how D-Zine Lounge set up their scene with V-Ray.

Over to you Dorothy….

The setup

We used a range of software to create this animation:

  • 3ds Max – Modelling, Lighting, and Animating
  • V-Ray & Corona – Rendering Software
  • Forest Pack Pro – Scattering Trees and flowers
  • RailClone – Fences
  • Phoenix FD – Fire and steam
  • After Effects – Compositing video together
  • Online Rendering – YellowDog

We have used V-Ray as our primary render engine in the studio for countless productions, and having 10 years of experience in V-Ray, I’m confident in getting the settings just right for our clients. Just follow this quick tutorial to do the same with your animation:

The Tutorial

3D modelling

We created all the rooms, windows, shutters, and interior details in 3ds Max and used furniture items from either our library or from Design Connected and Evermotion. All the rooms were modelled in separate scenes to help keep the poly-count down. This reduces lag time in our studio, and reduces render times.

We then modelled up the surrounding grounds that could be seen through the windows. We used Forest Pack for trees and flowers whilst using RailClone for fences and railings.

 

We needed to create four variations of the same garden with different plants and trees to show the different seasons. In the winter garden, we added a blanket of snow and a snow man…of course! In a bid to reduce file size and render time, we rendered 360° views of each environment variation, and mapped them onto curved planes in the different 3ds Max scenes. This gave the illusion of the garden without the large number of polys. Replacing our high poly garden with a single curved plane reduced some files from 1.69GB to 200MB.

spring bitmap from creating a render with corona
Spring
summer bitmap from Corona render blog
Summer
autumn bitmap - corona interior render
Autumn
winter style bitmap from blog on creating an internal render with corona
Winter

The curved plane material was a V-Ray light and it was set to not cast or receive shadows.

Lighting

We used V-Ray suns in all the scenes to give strong direct light, and V-Ray HDRI maps in the environment slot for the backgrounds and indirect lighting.  We spent quite a bit of time on this to match the V-Ray suns to the HDRI maps.

Check out some of the stills we created – notice the subtle differences for each season:

spring interior render
In Spring, we gave the sun a bluish tint, kept it low in the sky and made the direct light less intense. Some of the trees in the background were imported without leaves. We added daffodils to the table, emphasising the time of year.
summer render
For Summer, we added a more yellow tint to the sun which had a high intensity and was high in the sky. The trees were fully covered and the plants in the garden reflected seasonal summer flowers rather than spring bulbs.
autumn interior render. In Autumn, we gave the sun an orange tint, made it low in the sky and less intense. The trees all had orange and brown leaves and the HDRI environment map was changed to suit an autumnal feel.
In Autumn, we gave the sun an orange tint, made it low in the sky and less intense. The trees all had orange and brown leaves and the HDRI environment map was changed to suit an autumnal feel.
winter interior render. For Winter, we deleted the sun completely and relied on the HDRI map for lighting. The garden was covered in snow, and we added a white ground plane outside to bounce the light from the HDRI back into the house as snow would do. We gave the HDRI a blue tint. The sun within the HDRI image was low in the sky and not intense.
For Winter, we deleted the sun completely and relied on the HDRI map for lighting. The garden was covered in snow, and we added a white ground plane outside to bounce the light from the HDRI back into the house as snow would do. We gave the HDRI a blue tint. The sun within the HDRI image was low in the sky and not intense.

Animating the shutters and lights

Once scenes were modelled in 3ds Max, we set about animating the shutters: opening and closing angled slats to show the effect they had on the light in the room. These shutter objects were initially x-refed into different scenes but as they became client approved, the models were merged into the different scenes so that final tweaks could be made more efficiently. This saved valuable time over the course of the project.

For quick approval of the speeds and movements of the shutters or cameras, we rendered out Viewport Preview animations. They take a few minutes to render but as many of us know, are very helpful with gaining client approval on the fly.

The only thing this didn’t help with was demonstrating the animated lights. To get approval on this, we rendered low res images of every 5th frame of the autumn, Christmas and kitchen scenes. Then we created draft sequences using After Effects.

Setting Up Cameras

This project had 18 sequences with different timings for each, and the cameras only moved small distances which is always good to keep it smooth and slow.

We used the same technique for animating the cameras as we did with the shutters and the lighting.  Typically, the cameras moved for around 7 seconds.

The Turning Point – V-Ray to Corona

Since our scenes would have moving objects, lights, and cameras, we planned on using time-interpolated irradiance maps. They help to ensure that there is no flickering or differences between the frames and are faster than using brute force rendering.

They were only taking around 20 minutes per frame to process, so we knew that we could submit the files and irradiance maps to YellowDog for rendering because we could control our costs within budget on those sorts of renders.

Our client kept growing the job: requesting extra rooms and more shutters. Our 60 second production trebled to 3 minutes and eventually beyond. Creating short sequences and still images for proofing a significantly larger project began to take up too much of our time; and we felt like we had less and less tricks to deploy to increase efficiency.

To create nice looking small animation sequences in V-Ray using time-interpolated irradiance maps was now taking us about 40 minutes to 50 minutes per frame due to client changes. We could animate without caching the irradiance maps to get the times down but then you compromise quality and get horribly blotchy productions. Brute force only increased render times enormously so wasn’t a viable option with our budget.

I had seen and heard a lot about Corona and after just looking at a few tutorials decided to try it out.  We were astonished with the amazingly quick render times and the very uncomplicated animation set up! There is no need to cache irradiance maps so it works similarly to Brute force…but the render times are much quicker. We took a risk and decided to move into the unknown.

Part two of this blog will explore how we converted our project to Corona, so make sure that you click here to find out!

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