With Corona Renderer, you don’t just get the software, you also get the team behind it. Using the software will teach you about that, but how do you get to know about the team?
That question gave us a new idea, “Know Your Devs”, where we invite users to post their questions for a particular developer, starting with… Ondra Karlik!
Read Ondra’s answers!
Work-life balance questions
How did you manage to keep a social or family life before the official Corona release – I’m talking about the hard work of coding.
Easy, I did not have any social life ;). We just locked ourselves in a room until Corona Renderer 1.0 was out. It wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.
Later (since around 2016), I gradually restored a more sane balance when we hired more people and I did not have to work such long hours to fix everything that was in flames at any given moment. Right now, I am working sensible hours again.
What is your work life balance like? Do you work 8 hr days? 10? What about on weekends?
In 2014-2015, around the Corona 1.0 release, I was working pretty much non-stop. Sometimes it was fun, sometimes not, depending mostly on what I was dealing with – for example website and licensing code was no fun at all for me, but I always enjoyed adding new features, even if it was Sunday 😉
Right now, I am trying to work more reasonable and sustainable hours – a standard 8 hours per day, with free weekends. But sometimes it is hard not to think about programming on weekends 😉
How did you get the idea to develop a new render engine ?
I was in college in 2009, and I had to pick a topic for my bachelor thesis. I had an agreement with a faculty member to create a web timetable for the school, but he stopped responding to my emails. I had about a week to find another topic. A friend suggested I do a renderer. I first thought it would be too hard, but he convinced me to try it.
I am very happy about it, but why did you choose 3ds Max as the main platform for your render?
It was natural decision, since I was already a 3ds Max user – I learned it while in high school. Knowing the software from a user perspective was immensely helpful, and was a key element in Corona’s success.
What led you to believe that you could build a new render engine that could compete with the giants? I’m interested in the specific gap you saw, and why you felt confident that you could fill that gap? In other words, what did you know that nobody else knew?
I did not see any gap ;). At first I was working on Corona only as a school project, with extra stuff (such as 3ds Max integration and global illumination) added because I wanted to try implementing it, mostly just as a technical challenge/programming exercise. I was using V-Ray 1.5 for a few years and I considered it good enough, without any need for improvement.
I started posting images to a Czech online forum and soon a few people wanted to try it, with one (Ludvík Koutný) being so dissatisfied with Mental Ray, that he wanted to replace it with Corona Renderer.
… and a recent video from Ludvik Koutný, using Corona Renderer
This sounded unreal to me at first, but I accepted it as a challenge – make Corona Renderer good enough to be used in production. It took another year or two, but to my surprise I found out that I could actually improve upon the current state-of-the-art.
I’ll keep it simple – favorite type of coffee? (beans, prep method, or anything related)
I started drinking coffee late (only in 2014), to keep going when finishing the Corona Renderer 1.0 release. Since then, I quickly settled on Italian style, strong espresso.
Did you get rich from selling Corona to Chaos Group???? 🙂
Everyone knows Corona Renderer is beloved by people in Archviz. And in other familiar fields as well, of course. But what do you imagine is the most eccentric use of the renderer?
We have seen quite a few eccentric uses for Corona Renderer! It was used in quite a few research papers (both by our team and by other researchers). There is some fractal art created with it (and people claiming they found hidden symbols inside the fractals). One guy claims he uses Corona to unify the theory of electromagnetism with the theory of gravitation.
We had to delete some pretty convincing renders of male genitalia made with Corona Renderer from our forum. And there were lots of other projects, from military planning projects to religious education materials – so the question would be easier if asking what Corona Renderer has NOT been used for!
And let’s not forget the Corona Benchmark, used by hardware builders and reviewers!
I will skip the movies everyone likes (yes, I like Lord of the Rings and Star Wars 😉 ) and call out some less well-known ones… for thrillers, I would mention Scarface, Pi, V for Vendetta, American Psycho. When it comes to comedy, I love the old school parodies such as Hot Shots and Spaceballs.
Oh, and I hate the current superhero movies trend. Can’t wait until it is over 😉
Ondra, tell us something about your hobbies & routines (non-coding).. who knows, maybe you’re a guitarist like TomG 😉
Corona IS my hobby! Other than that, my hobbies are pretty dull – tourism, cooking, computer games, watching internet drama, … Tom actually gave us a guitar when he visited the Prague office. I want to learn how to play one, but I will have to get a left-handed one first… and also get some free time 😉
What is your ultimate goal, personally?
Well, for long time, it was to make Corona Renderer the leading arch-viz renderer. I am doing some thinking where to go from here, currently.
We hope you enjoyed this first “Know Your Devs” – be sure to sign up on the Corona forums to watch for the next one, so you can interrogate the next developer who takes the hot seat!