Corona 8: PREVIEW AND PLANS FOR 2022

Corona 8

Table of contents

(Official article of the Corona Renderer blog)

Author: Tom Grimes

INTRODUCTION

When we joined forces with Chaos Group four years ago, we started a project to integrate Corona with what is now the Chaos ecosystem in a way that would benefit you, and make our own development process faster and more efficient. Our goal was to benefit from being part of the Chaos family, while carefully preserving what makes Corona unique and loved.

This process was (and still is) challenging and has taken longer than we anticipated. On top of that, the 3D visualization market always keeps evolving, and we have to keep adapting to the changes as we go. However today, we are pleased to announce that we have now made significant progress, and we want to share all the changes that you will be seeing in the upcoming Corona Renderer 8 release at the beginning of 2022.

In short, we are introducing exciting new features at no extra cost such as Chaos Cosmos and Chaos Scatter, new visuals (and name!), and a new licensing back-end shared with other Chaos products. In addition, we are making Corona pricing more affordable for long term customers, and we are offsetting the cost of these features by increasing pricing for short term and render node licenses.

Let’s go through the list in detail.

NEW FEATURES

As part of our effort to integrate Corona into the Chaos ecosystem, Corona 8 will come with Chaos Cosmos (a library of smart 3D assets). Later, after the release of Corona 8, we will also add support for Chaos Cloud and Chaos Scans. The newest addition to the ecosystem, the scattering tool we are developing (now called Chaos Scatter) will be also included. Let’s look at these features in detail.

Chaos Scatter

After three years of development, the plugin (previously called Scatter Pro) is ready to be released with Corona version 8 (Fig. 01). It will be included in every Corona installation for 3ds Max and Cinema4D, and will fully replace Corona Scatter! Compared to the Corona Scatter that you already know, this is a full-featured, production ready scattering solution. Its major new features include.

  • Slope limiting (no trees growing out of cliffs!)
  • Include/exclude via splines (closed or open)
  • Surface color map (patterns on rugs, etc.)
  • Better viewport display
  • Limit scattering only inside camera field of view (frustum culling)
  • And more
Corona 8 - Chaos Scatter City
Fig. 01 - Did you know – you’ve already seen Chaos Scatter in action, as we used it to create the city in the Corona 7 New Features video.

Chaos Cosmos

Everyone needs tools that reduce how long a project takes, not just how long it takes to render – after all, your time is more valuable than your machine’s time. Chaos Cosmos does exactly that, by giving you access to hundreds of high-quality models, materials, and HDRI skies that will work seamlessly with your Corona projects, all accessible from within the integrated Chaos Cosmos Browser. Now you can find and integrate the assets you need in minutes, not hours (Fig. 02)! And the best thing is that the list of assets is growing all the time!

Corona 8 - Chaos Cosmos assets
Fig. 02

How much will it cost?

These new ecosystem features will be included in the base price of every Corona subscription. There will be no extra charge to access Chaos Scatter or the asset library, as we originally planned. Our goal is to provide the best possible software to as many users as possible, and this “all-inclusive” model will allow just that. To ensure our pricing is sustainable, we will instead adjust short term and render node pricing, as described below.

From the technical point of view, access to the Chaos ecosystem features will be facilitated by Corona switching to the unified Chaos licensing (scroll down to the “New Licensing Backend” section for more info on that).

Is that everything?

You will of course also get the expected dose of other new features. For version 8, this will include Decals, new Tone mapping, Cryptomatte, Slicer/Clipper material, a Curvature map, and more (see the end of the blog post for a development sneak peek).

Corona Renderer: THE COMPLETE GUIDE

NEW LOGO, NAME, AND LICENSE

Chaos Corona

You may remember that at the start of this year, Chaos rebranded with a new look and new names for the products. Corona was part of that rebrand internally, but we have waited for the integration into the ecosystem to unveil it publicly (Fig. 03)!

We’d like to introduce you to our new name and look coming with version 8.

Corona 8 - Chaos products logos
Fig. 03 - The new name and logo, and how it will look alongside the other Chaos products.

Adjustments to the pricing and subscription terms

Affordability was always one of the key features of Corona Renderer and we intend to keep it that way. We have never increased Corona prices since we first started sales in 2015, and we want to keep the same price level for our loyal customers in the future.

The way to achieve this in face of the universally rising costs of goods, services, and running a business is based on a careful analysis we did, which made us realize that we did not get everything right the first time – pricing was too complicated due to too many options, we did not have any way to reward loyal users, and we provided render nodes at a disproportionately low cost.

The first thing we want to note is this.

All existing subscriptions continue without any changes

If you have an active Corona subscription (or start one before the release of Corona 8) then we will not unilaterally change it – so nothing will change for you, unless you explicitly ask us to make a change. Your subscription will continue with the same conditions for as long as you keep it active, and will even include the new additions such as Chaos Scatter (Fig. 04), Chaos Cosmos, etc.

With that said, we can now look at the changes that will come with new subscriptions after Corona version 8 is released.

Corona 8 - Armchair Chaos Scatter
Fig. 04 - Fibers on fabrics, one of our internal tests with Chaos Scatter

Cheaper yearly license, more expensive monthly license

Yes, after 6 years of being the same price, from Corona 8 onward a yearly license will in fact be slightly cheaper for those of you who do not use any render nodes – 280 € ($310) per year rather than 290 € ($330), to reward our loyal users. That being said, we need to increase the price of the monthly license to 40 € ($45), up from 25 € ($28.50).

The reason is that we want to reward the dedicated customers, but we also need to offset the rising cost of development and running a business. Corona today is much more complex than it was 5 years ago, requiring much more effort to maintain and develop (for illustration, Corona 1.0 had 100 000 lines of source code, currently we have 835 000 lines!). At the same time, the starting salary of a C++ developer roughly doubled in Prague, among other cost increases.

Our secondary motivation is that the monthly licenses tend to break more when rebilling with payment cards, which generates more support tickets for us and even loses us some customers after repeated issues. With this change we want to motivate new customers to prefer the yearly licensing.

Corona 8 -
Fig. 05 - George Karampelas, using the in-development Chaos Scatter.

Render nodes as a separate purchase

According to our telemetry data, over 90% of Corona users never activate a render node, and most render node usage comes from a few big players. In this situation, having bundles of render nodes with GUI licenses both complicates our offering (with three different subscription plans multiplied by two billing frequencies), and users running smaller production pipelines who never use render nodes are in fact subsidizing the cost for the bigger players who do use them.

Our solution is to stop bundling render nodes with Corona, and make them into a separate purchase. The planned pricing is shown below:

  • 1 Node: 100 € ($110) per year, or 36 € ($40) per month
  • 5 Nodes: 8% discount
  • 10 Nodes: 18% discount
  • 20 Nodes: 30% discount
  • 50 Nodes: 40% discount
  • 100 Nodes: 60% discount

This will make the pricing more fair, by introducing price differentiations between bigger productions with their own internal render farms, and freelancers without them. It also makes the pricing more understandable and straightforward – you pay for the exact number of computers you are using, and only when using them – you do not need to fit your overall computer usage into one of several arbitrary tiers.

Your base Corona subscription can still be used for network rendering as before –  we’ve included some examples in the “Licensing Under the Hood” section at the very end of the document.

Note that this does not affect commercial rendering services, which are using and will continue using individually negotiated contracts.

Corona 8 - Guitar Decals
Fig. 06 - George Karampelas, a WIP using the new decals.

No extra cost for extra features

Remember, the extra standalone products which are not part of the renderer that will come bundled with it (Chaos Scatter and Chaos Cosmos) will now be priced in the core subscription rather than requiring extra, separate costs.

Box licenses

5 years of sales show only a handful (few percent) ever purchase a Box license, so we’ll streamline the purchasing process by removing Box license details from the website. Organizations whose policies forbid purchase of subscription software can still get in touch with us to purchase them, same as before.

Student licenses

We will increase the symbolic price of student licenses to 40 € ($45) per year, so it is still equal to the cost of a single monthly license.

Corona 8 - CoronaPhysicalMtl
Fig. 07 - The Corona 7 Physical Material in action.

Summary of the new Corona pricing:

EXISTING SUBSCRIPTIONS

  • Pricing, terms, bundled render nodes stay the same
  • Will gain Chaos Scatter and Chaos Cosmos

NEW CORONA GUI LICENSES

  • Will include Chaos Scatter and Chaos Cosmos
  • Will not provide additional render nodes
  • New yearly cost: 280 € ($310)
  • New monthly cost: 40 € ($45)
  • New student cost: 40 € ($45) per year

ADDITIONAL RENDER NODES NOW PURCHASED SEPARATELY:

  • Yearly: 100 € ($110)
  • Monthly: 36 € ($40)
  • Discounted packs available for multiple render nodes
Corona 8 - City
Fig. 08 - Getting ready for the road ahead! A WIP from George Karampelas.

New licensing backend

Corona 8 and later will use the same licensing implementation as Chaos. This will actually appear in an upcoming daily build of Corona 8, to give us time to test it. Earlier versions of Corona will continue on the old licensing system for the time being (including after the release of Corona 8).

This means that:

  • You can gain access to all other Chaos products (e.g.,  Chaos V-Ray, Chaos Phoenix, Chaos Scatter, Cosmos, Scans, etc.) with a single account.
  • We can easily add Chaos Cloud access for Corona to your account in the future.
  • You will gain better control over your licenses with the more advanced and well-maintained Chaos Licensing Server. The poorly maintained Corona Licensing Server will be discontinued.
  • You will have more granular control over which emails you receive from us – e.g. if you only use 3ds Max, you won’t need to be notified when there’s a new release for Cinema 4D, and more
  • And we’ll be honest, we benefit too – it will make things much easier on our side for handling licensing, purchases and orders, which will let us spend more time on Corona itself!
Corona 8 - Robot Corona 7
Fig. 09 - Our Corona 7 robot!

Corona Renderer: THE COMPLETE GUIDE

CORONA 8 SNEAK PEEK

The main news

Of course, none of this changes our plans for adding new tools and functionality into Corona 8, and we’re excited to share some behind-the-scenes early looks at what we are cooking up!

  • Decals (already in the daily builds)
  • Tone mapping
  • Cryptomatte support
  • Curvature map
  • Slicer/Clipper
  • The Reflection Tail parameter (already in the daily builds)
  • And more!

Decals

These are much more powerful than the name sounds! Sure, you can use them to “add graffiti onto a wall” but you will find their potential goes much further than that. Try it for yourself in the daily builds!

You can see a quick test video below showing the Decal in action in the Corona 8 daily build, since it’s always easier to see something than read about it!

Let’s break down what we can see here. A Decal will be an object that you add to the scene, apply a material to it, and then you can move it to intersect other geometry and it will apply the decal to that geometry.

The Decal is visible in the viewport for easy adjustment, and then you can move, scale, and rotate it to align the decal on the receiving object (Fig. 10).

There’s no need to prepare the object receiving the decal in any way – you don’t need to adjust its material, you don’t need to enable a checkbox for it to accept the decal, simply drag the Decal object to overlap it.

As well as projecting a material onto the receiving object, the Decal also projects displacement, making it easy to add things like manhole covers to roads.

Corona 8 - Decals Examples
Fig. 10 - Some examples of how decals can be used.

It is easy to stack Decals, and you control the layering of which Decals are on top of others using the “height” (or distance from the object they are being projected on to, which may not be the scene height).

The Decal can be moved from object to object, can project onto multiple objects at once if it overlaps them all, and you can remove individual objects from being affected by the Decal using an Exclude list.

Decals also correctly respond to Motion blur.

Decals are already in the Corona 8 daily build, so you can try them for yourself!

Also, in the first half of 2022, presets for Decals will be added to Chaos Cosmos, so you can look forward to having instant content on hand for use with Corona’s Decals functionality.

Tone mapping

Our rework of Tone mapping in the VFB is going well, although it remains a large and complicated task! It will feature several new operators for modifying the look of your render, and a new UI that will give you great flexibility in things such as the order of post-processing effects etc.

You can see a VERY early take of it in action below to give you some idea of the functionality you can expect.

Cryptomatte Support

Make your post-processing easier than ever by being able to accurately create masks that account for Anti-aliasing, Motion blur, Depth of field, etc. (Fig. 11, Fig. 12, Fig. 13).

Corona 8 - Guitar Decals
Fig. 11 - Cryptomatte examples, Name and Layer modes.
Corona 8 - Cryptomatte
Fig. 12 - With Motion Blur (beauty, Cryptomatte Name, Mask from Cryptomatte).
Corona 8 - Cryptomatte with DOF
Fig. 13 - With Depth of Field (click for full size version).

Curvature Map

An internal build exists for this, so were able to make a quick test image to answer the question you may have – “In what way is the Curvature map different from the AO map?” (Fig. 14).

Corona 8 - CurvatureCorona 8 - AO

Fig. 14 – Curvature example.

Both can be used to add wear and tear to edges (amongst other things), and the above will give you a quick guide as to why you may want to use one rather than the other (Fig. 15, Fig. 16).

Corona 8 - Cryptomatte sample
Fig. 15 - Test generated using the Curvature map mixed with a Noise map to add “dirt” in occluded areas.
Corona 8 - Curvature Vase
Fig. 16 - Test generated using the Curvature map mixed with a Noise map to add “dirt” in occluded areas.

Slicer/Clipper

Ever wanted to show a cutaway of a car so you can see the interior or engine from the outside? Or wanted to cut away walls to peek into the interior of a room (or even avoid a wall blocking a camera view from a certain position and field of view)? The Slicer/Clipper will let you do just that.

We made a video of it in action, early demo only!

Fig. 17 shows a render from that final scene shown in the video, with an interior with the GI preserved (by using the Slicer material into a Rayswitch for Direct Visibility only).

Corona 8 - SLICER archviz
Fig. 17 - You can preserve interior lighting by using the Slicer Material in a Rayswitch, affecting Direct Visibility only.

Reflection Tail

This Advanced parameter for reflections lets you raise the Reflection Tail, to get a stronger reflection outside of the reflection peak. You can try it for yourself in the daily builds, and below we’ll explain what it does.

To translate that from “light transport speak”, it means reflections will take on a softer and more distributed look with higher Tail values. While similar to raising the Roughness, the result is very different, with a softer look that gives more “depth” to the metal. You can see some examples below (Fig. 18, Fig. 19).

Corona 8 - Tail Test
Fig. 18 - In this example, you will notice that the caustics are also correctly affected by the Tail parameter.
Corona 8 - Tail Vase
Fig. 19 - The Tail also affects Refraction. It can also be mapped, as seen on the metal tray (we varied the Exposure of the bitmap to change the effect, so the tray doesn’t specifically match the Tail values shown in the overlay text).

Fig. 20 shows the difference between using Tail (left image) and Roughness (right image) to adjust reflections – with Roughness, the entire reflection becomes blurred, while with Tail there is less blurring of the overall reflections while highlights remain equally affected.

Corona 8 - Tail sphere RoughnessCorona 8 - Tail sphere Tail

Fig. 20

For this example, the Roughness was set to 0.16 in that example (with a Tail of 0), and a Tail of 0.87 in that example (with Roughness 0). For comparison, here is the render with neither Roughness nor Tail used:

Tail
Fig. 21 - The sphere with no Roughness or Tail used

Corona on M1 Machines

This recently appeared in the daily builds, so you can try it for yourself. This brings a 45 – 50% speed increase compared to running Corona under Rosetta. Below you can see Corona running on an M1 machine.

Dome Mapping for Environments in Cinema 4D

Ideal for automotive visualizations, product renders and more, this mode lets your 3D objects “stick in place” in the environment map as you move the camera around. You can try it yourself in the daily builds, and see it in action in the video below.

Chaos Cosmos

Below you can see an early demo of Cosmos functionality, using Corona for Cinema 4D.

THANK YOU!

We hope you’ve found this look at what is coming with Corona 8 interesting! If you are technically-minded, and want a more detailed breakdown of how the licensing will work (e.g. if you want to see if you would require any render node licenses), you’ll find a breakdown with example scenarios below.

Meantime, we would like to thank all of you for your support of Corona!

Ondra, and the Corona Crew

Corona Renderer: THE COMPLETE GUIDE

EXTRA: LICENSING UNDER THE HOOD

To provide more flexibility, the licensing is changing under the hood. This won’t affect you on a day-to-day basis, but we wanted to tell you about it anyway so you understand certain terms if they ever come up. This should also let you calculate whether you need any additional Render Nodes or not.

A Corona subscription will grant you a license which comes in two parts. The first, the GUI license, lets you see and use the Corona interface whenever you open the Scene Settings / Render Settings in Max or Cinema 4D respectively.

The second part is the Render license, which is what is used whenever you render an image. These are separated so that you can work on one machine, but render on a different machine. Examples will make this clearer:

  1. You open your host 3D software, and start working on a scene that uses Corona, using IR as you go before doing a final render on that machine. Both the GUI and the Render license are in use on that one machine.
  2. You open your host 3D software, and start working on a scene that uses Corona. You do not use IR or render at all, but send the image to a remote machine for it to render. The GUI license is in use on your machine; the Render license is in use on the remote machine.
  3. You have three artists in your office, each with their own computer and each with their own Corona license. You are in the office on your own (you do know you should take weekends off, right?!) – you open a scene that uses Corona and work with it, and use distributed or network rendering to use all three machines to render the image. One GUI license and one Render license is in use on your machine – the other two machines are using the other two Render licenses (but not GUI licenses since no-one is working in the host 3D applications)
  4. You have the same three artists etc. as in the last example. In the evening, you leave a job rendering using network rendering. This uses all three of the Render licenses, and (if you submit through network rendering management software only) none of the GUI licenses. (As a note, you could open a scene at home on your laptop to work with it, using one of the GUI licenses – you just couldn’t use IR or render that scene while the three Render licenses are in use in the office)
  5. You own a subscription to Corona for 3ds Max, and another for Corona for Cinema 4D. The Render license is not tied to a particular host software, so this means you could use two machines for rendering from 3ds Max (so long as Cinema 4D was not rendering at all), or two machines for rendering from Cinema 4D (so long as the 3ds Max machine wasn’t rendering at all). Please note – you cannot use a V-Ray Render license to render using Corona, or vice versa.

You’ll see from the examples above how the split works, and how this means a “Corona license” gives you access to both the Corona software and UI, while keeping the rendering part of the license free to be used on another machine entirely, even from different host software.

You can also add additional Render licenses that ONLY provide rendering functionality (they have no GUI license, which is why they cost less than a “full” license with both parts) – this is handy if you have your own render farm, where you have machines that are never used to work in a 3D application and are only used for rendering.

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