Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board

"Raytracers" on JOS

I'm wondering if there are any JOS readers who like to use Raytracers to create pictures and, of course, what raytracer you use. 

I don't think I'll ever make the "Ray Tracing Hall of Fame" with any of my creations, but it is something I like to do.

I use the POVRay program and have been using it since its release to do my raytracing.  It was always fun to see how fast a picture would trace on my computer.  At least you don't have to wait so long now-a-days.

Dave B.
Thursday, January 8, 2004

I used Povray to do some prototypes of a hypothetical 3D version of Excel in 1993. A 640x480 image took two minutes on my 486. Luckily I had access to a top of the line Dec Alpha and could run them in about 1 minute on that.

Joel Spolsky
Thursday, January 8, 2004

I've tinkered with POVRAY off and on for over a decade. It is a lot of fun and really quite amazing software (free too).

Not to mention it is a good way to learn more about computer graphics and geometry.

Thursday, January 8, 2004

I've played around with povray for displaying macromolecular structures.  It's pretty feature rich now (various lighting, atmospheric, sky effects, etc) and you can make some very dazzling pictures. 

Friday, January 9, 2004

A 3D Excel??? Did you have to type in the entire scene file by hand? How'd that work.

Friday, January 9, 2004

All the cells would be rotating at the speed of light on a spherical plane and you could only check what value was in the cell if you were quick enough to press "print screen" as the number came around.... Or maybe not. Sounds interesting though, I have often thought about making a "DOOM" version of our program, the user would walk into different rooms which were really modules in the program, and shoot at different things on the wall instead of clicking buttons.

Chris Ormerod
Friday, January 9, 2004

Maybe something like this: ?

Antti Kurenniemi
Friday, January 9, 2004

Used PovRay back in high school to do some smaller scenes.
Since I have good contacts with a University nearby I went there for a small introduction to Maya last fall. It seems like a very cool program to tinker with but I have not the time or the skill to be a 3D guru.

Graphics has always been an intrest of mine. 3D or 2D does not matter. Unfortunatly I am not a good artist. is a favorite website.
Just check out this russian painter

Fredrik Svensson
Friday, January 9, 2004

Perhaps the 3-D Excel work evolved into the flight simulator easter egg in Excel 97?

John Topley (
Friday, January 9, 2004

Lol...  Those were the days.  I too ran povray on my 486 33MHZ and had to download it from a BBS.  Had to get my parents permission and pay 'em for the call because it was long distance to Chicago (The nearest BBS i new of).

I'm glad to see there's some people that have done the raytracing thing.  I've always thought it would make a cool prototyping tool too or perhaps it could be used to make logos.  Mostly I guess I just play around with it.

Dave B.
Friday, January 9, 2004

Ah yes, I remember Povray.  Got it on a PC-Format coverdisk in about '92 and had to leave my 33Mhz 386 on overnight to render the example scene....

Full name
Friday, January 9, 2004

I'm somewhat surprised I haven't heard anyone mention BMRT - that's the only one I've ever really played around with, although it doesn't look like it's around anymore (it was at ).  At school, my projects were real-time OpenGL-drawn videos (with user interaction to affect the action), while capturing each frame to a RenderMan RIB file.  Once the class was over and my access to PRMan was cut off, I could still use BMRT to draw my RIB scenes.  Lots of fun, although I never did get anything to look really *good*...

I also got bored one Thanksgiving break awhile ago and wrote a primitive raytracer of my own awhile back, but the raytracer wasn't powerful enough to do anything interesting, and the model generator (me, by hand) wasn't artistic enough to put together any interesting scenes.  It was a fun little project, though...

Friday, January 9, 2004


"Here's an update on Exluna, Entropy, and BMRT. On July 13, 2003, Exluna Inc. ceased to exist as a formal entity, and Entropy reached its End of Life. That means we no longer distribute OR support Entropy. Both BMRT and Entropy are unavailable for purchase or download from NVIDIA. Bugs are no longer being fixed."


Tom (a programmer)
Friday, January 9, 2004

I used povray about 5 years ago and thought it was wonderful.  Recently, I've been playing w/ Blender  which has a quirky interface (to me anyway) but pretty powerful once you get used to it.  Some professional houses use it and it's free too.

Friday, January 9, 2004

"Got it on a PC-Format coverdisk in about '92 and had to leave my 33Mhz 386 on overnight to render the example scene...."

You must've had the 386 DX instead of the 386 SX for the scenes to render so quickly!  My poor 386 SX took a week to render that example scene of a fish jumping out of water.  I was absolutely thrilled when I went off to college and found that I could render scenes 640x480 scenes at full quality on the Sparc 5 systems in the lab overnight.

Matt Latourette
Friday, January 9, 2004

I made on picture with POVRAY that I was brave enough to enter into the  IRTC is a friendly competition.  It ended up in the middle of the pack in ranking. 

POVRAY is great if you don't want to spend money.  It's not the greatest if you want to make something quickly.  I think it now has UV mapping for surfaces but what I was using, 3.1, I don't think it had that so making images of certain things was a bit tricky.  I bought MORAY to help out and it did help in many ways but POVRAY was still a bit of a beast to work with.

Blender was also free which really confused me as to how NAN could make money.  It's interface has to be learnt to get anything done in it.  You can't just run it and be off on all cylinders with the program right off the bat.  In the end this program just bothered me.

Truespace wasn't free but wasn't expensive either.  The interface bothered the hell out of me, more so than Blenders.  Give me POVRAY anyday.

I got to play with 3DSMax and Lightwave but they both have their learning curves.  Not to mention the pocket book black hole effect.

I ended up buying Carrara 2. (now 3.) with Amapi 6 (now 7.) and it isn't perfect, a bit buggy but easy to get an image out right off the bat.  I like it but I can also gripe volumns about it.  I won't get into that though. 

Right now I'm working on a hybrid picture.  Mixing 3D with traditional 2D drawing.  I'm trying to Mimic Masamune Shirow's work.  I'm a fan of his and just looking to see if I can work out how he does things.  If you know of M.S. then you pretty much know what my project might look like. :)

Robbert de Groot
Friday, January 9, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home