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POV-Ray

The Persistence of Vision Ray-Tracer™, or POV-Ray, is a free ray tracing program available for a variety of computer platforms. It was originally based on DKBTrace[?], written by David K. Buck and Aaron A. Collins. There are also influences from the earlier Polyray raytracer contributed by its author Alexander Enzmann. It is freeware, and although it is not open source, the source code is available under the POV-Ray License.

POV-Ray has matured substantially since it was created. Recent versions of the software include some of the following features:

  • A C-like scene description language
  • Support for Constructive Solid Geometry modeling
  • Library of ready-made scenes, textures, and objects
  • Support for a number of geometric primitives
  • Several different kinds of light sources
  • Atmospheric effects such as fog and smoke
  • Reflections, refractions, and light caustics using photon mapping
  • Surface patterns such as wrinkles, bumps, and ripples, for use in procedural textures and bumpmapping
  • Robust image format support for textures and render output: TGA, PNG, JPEG (only input), just to name a few.
  • Excellent documentation

One of POV-Ray's main attractions is its large collection of third party support. A large number of tools, textures, models, scenes, and tutorials can be found on the web. It is also a useful reference for those wanting to learn how raytracing and related geometry and graphics algorithms work.

Table of contents

Current Version The current official version of POV-Ray is 3.5. Some of the main features of this release:

  • UV texture mapping in tandem with an improved mesh primitive (using the 'mesh2' keyword)
  • Photon mapping, which provides realistic rendering of light caustics.
  • Isosurfaces, directly render surfaces defined by a mathematical function.
  • Functions that, among other things, can be used for generating new patterns for Isosurfaces, for Parametric surfaces etc.

Development and Maintenance Official modifications to the POV-Ray source tree are done and/or approved by the POV-TeamTM. Parties interested in patch submission and/or bug reporting should join the POV-Ray newsgroups on the povray.org news server.

For those impatient for new features, there are unofficial forks and patched versions of POV-Ray available from third parties; however, these are not officially supported by the POV-TeamTM.

Caveats Official POV-Ray does not support shader plug-ins. Radiosity is supported on an experimental basis only.

External Links

Unofficial Patches



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