World in the mirror
"World in the mirror"
by Sergio Nasi 1997

Last Updated on October 15th 1997

Take me
to Ray tracing in brief
Take me
to Persistence of Vision
Take me
to POV-Ray Experiments
Take me
to the Links
Take me
to Democratic Implications

What is ray tracing ?

Briefly and roughly speaking, ray tracing is a computer graphics technique that builts up a realistic image of the scene starting from its geometrical specification (objects coordinates, surface chromatic properties, light sources,location of the point of view etc.).

The major feature is calculating the paths of light rays taking into account absorptions and reflections due to the properties of objects surfaces.

For example, the image you see on top of this page (you're using a graphical browser, aren't you?) shows the multiplying effect on the image of a sphere placed between two juxtaposed reflective planes (electronic glass).

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Persistence of Vision Raytracer

I started exploring the marvellous world of ray tracing when I discovered POV-Ray: Persistence Of Vision Raytracer.

POV-Ray is the second example of high value free software technology I came across until now.
The first one (chronologically speaking) is the free operating system Linux. Gloria in Excelsis.
Let me know if you are aware of other examples.

You can freely download POV-Ray for Windows at the official site: www.povray.org

You can use POV-Ray to render (i.e. process of adding realism to a computer graphics by adding three-dimensional qualities such as shadows and variations in color and shade) a scene you first created using a modeller, a graphical program which can design 3D objects (sometimes modellers, expecially the commercially available ones, come with an embedded rendering engine).
See below for some links to several 3D modellers available in the Internet.

Nevertheless, my advice is to start practicising ray tracing using the design capabilities of POV-Ray, before passing to complex 3D modelling.
I assure that the scene you can create using the C-like POV-Ray descriptive language can quickly earn you a whole bunch of enjoyment.

I bet you'll be impressed by the outstanding tutorial documentation included in POV-Ray package: it's very clear, full of examples and it will teach you a solid knowledge about ray tracing.

I'm follwing this course. I plan to put in this site the nice things I'm descovering using POV-Ray.

Click here to see my POV-Ray Experiments

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Some Links

You can get tons of links related to POV-Ray, even just searching out Geocities.
The interesting things I've found in the still small percentage of them I visited are here.

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Democratic implications of POV-Ray

No one can deny that we're living in a world where Appearence plays a major role.

Stunning images bomb us from the Internet, T.V., cinema, advertising posters, leaving us open-mouthed (that's often my case).

Computer geaphics gurus have their work to do, but sometimes I consider the fact that they're playing hard with my emotions in that cinema room, making me jump on my seat, while moving tons of pixels to make that T Rex snap its jaw.

Ray tracing coupled with a valuable and free software product like POV-Ray can give you the Power: the only limit is your fantasy and capability of creation.

I won't claim that anybody can turn magically into an Artist or find work at Industrial Light & Magic.

I'm talking about the deep satisfaction that you can experiment when you succeed in making "real" or at least "apparent" a mental construction that has a special meaning for you, no matter if it's a guitar chord, a new ice-cream taste or a non- trivial geometrical image.

Ray tracing can give a fast and simple way out to your mental images.

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