Neil's News


7 August 2004

Recent work on the VidScope Java applet and the Etch A Sketch has left me feeling a bit, erm, two-dimensional. Learning POV-Ray seemed like a good solution.

Rendered image of Meccano plates

First reaction: How can one possibly do 3D rendering without a GUI?
Answer: About as well as one can build web pages without FrontPage.
By getting rid of the GUI, POV-Ray has opened itself up for scripting. The image on the left is not three Meccano girders, it is the output of generalised functions. One can drop in arbitrary parameters and generate arbitrary parts. Nifty.

Rendered image of fishbowl POV-Ray is ideal for generating technical renderings. But what about more artistic renderings? The image on the left demonstrates that it's more than capable of generating photo-realistic scenes. Unfortunately it took 12 hours and 1GB of swap space to render that image. Which rules out casually playing with the lights and shadows.

Animation of inch worm Although POV-Ray is capable of animations, this short movie isn't an example of it. I needed very tight control of each frame, so this turned into a stop-motion exercise. The puppet of a worm was built, then carefully posed in eight different positions. Each position was rendered, then the result glued together in an animated GIF. My favourite frame was an out-take caused by a fencepost error: worm crash.

POV-Ray is a really good tool. Especially for programmers. I can't see myself using ProtoCAD, Bryce or Dream3D again.

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