Tuesday, June 15, 2004

POV-Ray turns 3.6 (Nostalgia alert!) 

Yikes, talk about a blast from the past! The classic raytracer engine POV-Ray (Persistance of Vision Raytracer) has a new version out.

This is a real piece of my own personal history. When I was really really little, Mom subscribed to this b&w newsletter that had various software you could have sent to you on diskette by mail. We got several games and other things through it, but one thing we'd never gotten around to was POV-Ray. Still, it was something that stuck with me.. an interesting 3D image and the promise of being able to make your own via its language.

Fast-forward some years later, to the days of BBSs and then the internet. I was finally able to download it for myself and jumped into the world of 3D. I had already done some programming, so the thought of using a programming language to create images was facinating. At the time, it was a difficult thing to work with, some of the more complex demo scenes taking many minutes for a single pixel to render at full-res.

I never got amazingly far with it, but I fiddled with it for a long time. You can check out my old raytracing page here, a time capsule from 1997. I'm still pretty proud of the Christmas scene and mechanical pencil model, which were created entirely in a text editor.

I was always the sort to want to try to help out, and I had seen a list of 3rd party utilities for the program that was very out of date. I took it upon myself to make my own list, which ironically enough is now is the same position as that older list I had seen. Man, it has been seven years now. How the time flies!

But POV-Ray itself is still alive, and of course you don't HAVE to use a text editor. Plenty of other programs can export to it... I'm glad to see that it is still plugging along..

As an aside, even if you have no interest in modelling yourself, go check out the Internet Raytracing Competition (IRTC). This amateur graphics competition has been going on for ages now. Many kinds of graphics programs are used, but there is a strong POV-Ray presence. Each round is a new topic, and while there are winners, it is mostly for fun and feedback. Submitters are encouraged to vote and leave comments for others, and many people include the source of their scenes. Some years back, they also started having an animation competition.

Good stuff, and in amazing coincidences territory, I just noticed that 2002 had a round with the topic of "Worlds Within Worlds"! What a small world it is...

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