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15 Dec 2018

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Ray tracing

The house project, by François de Dardel

Macintosh sur le bureau

For those curious: the picture on the left is a synthetic (or "virtual") image I created on my Macintosh using Persistence Of Vision (POV) Ray-tracing. The image is built geometrically, using so-called "Constructive Spatial Geometry".

All the objects and other textures or patterns are created and assembled by geometrical programming using POV. A virtual camera and virtual light sources are then set, and the picture is created ("rendered") by "ray tracing". By moving the camera around, you can take any number of 3D pictures of the same scene.

The real Mac fans will notice that the iMac G4 is a little simplified. The screen itself is a dump from my own Mac. More about ray-tracing under other pictures, with the Italian villa, and my chemistry page, but first have a look at my house, which also has a panoramic view.

All pictures of the house, inside and outside, are derived from the same single POV description file. I started (in August 2005) from a file made by Sascha Ledinsky, and I added many details, including the tree, the pavement, the fountain, the bench and the landscape around the house. Then I placed furniture inside the house to take interior views. See the situation map to orient yourself and the floor plan to get acquainted with the house indoors.

Plan de la maison Everything is defined geometrically, except the paintings on the walls and the tapestry. There are 16 source files totalling about 350 kB of text to describe the house, its environment and the furniture, including 12 kB for the tree adapted from Jean-Laurent Pradel, and 20 kB for the sea plane borrowed from Kurt Bangert, which is shown in different positions. Moving the "camera" around and into the house demonstrate that it is indeed a geometric object and not a series of drawings. I only vary the position of the camera, and the lighting, to get all the images (today, 47 pictures inside and outside). I also occasionally move around the balloon, the plane, the ship, and the seagulls, and adjust the weather fane. There are seven different skies to refect different weather conditions. I have changed the environment in August 2007 and again in July 2013, and the island landscape is now somewhat more realistic.

I designed the pavement with individually random-coloured cobblestones, and added in 2017 the wind turbine and the stairs going down to the plane.

In some of the outdoor pictures, there is a little amount of fog, so that the distant objects are not as clear as the close ones. I am not completely satisfied with the results, and hope to do better at a later stage. The POV program is very powerful, and quite complicated to learn. There are hundreds of commands to adjust light, colours, textures, reflection, refraction, and everything is hard coding. Clicking on the close-up of the roof, you will see the arrangement of the tiles, courtesy of Sascha Ledinsky. I would never have found the complicated algorithm used for this purpose, but I learnt from it to make the pavement around the house.

I designed the lighthouse using the phare de Sète (South of France) as a model: here the original.

Maison On the left you see the first version of this house, made in August 2005. It had no landscape, was smaller, and empty. The door opened on the wrong side, too... Today, there are over 80 items in and around the house. I created most of them, but I also borrowed and modified several objects from files made available by the community of POV ray tracers. See the corresponding acknowledgements.

I started ray-tracing around 1993 with DKB (by Eduardo Schwan), the ancestor of POV. I improved my skills gradually, but there are many much better experts. Several of the pictures made their way to my employer's web pages, which I created early 1998. If anybody has comments or suggestions about these pictures, I will be delighted to read them.

More information on the ray-tracing software and principles can be found in the POV site pages. See also my links page.

Pictures open in a separate window. JavaScript is required for proper display.
(1024 x 768, 167 kB)
House at night
(1024 x 768, 136 kB)
Façade nord
North end
(1024 x 768, 127 kB)
(1024 x 768, 70 kB)
Boeing 314 à l'ancre
With my sea plane
(1024 x 768, 171 kB)
View from the sea
(1024 x 768, 119 kB)
Zoom on plane
(1024 x 768, 119 kB)
Vol d'oiseau
View from NW
(1155 x 650, 91 kB)
Toit et girouette
The roof
(1024 x 768, 145 kB)
(1024 x 768, 143 kB)
From the terrace
(1024 x 768, 112 kB)
Wind turbine
The wind turbine
(1024 x 768, 38 kB)
The lighthouse
(1024 x 768, 71 kB)
Top of lighthouse
Lighthouse, zoomed
(1024 x 768, 38 kB)
Du phare
View from lighthouse
(1200 x 600, 86 kB)
Lighthouse night
Lighthouse at night
(1024 x 768, 60 kB)
Top of lighthouse
Birdseye view
(1024 x 768, 108 kB)
Inside the house
(1024 x 768, 111 kB)
Inside, inversed
(1024 x 768, 104 kB)
The fireplace
(1024 x 768, 89 kB)
iMac G4
The glass table
(1024 x 768, 80 kB)
The book shelf
(1024 x 768, 111 kB)
De l'intérieur
Inside out
(1024 x 768, 100 kB)
(1024 x 768, 89 kB)
Pièce nord
Inside, back
(1024 x 768, 125 kB)
Zoom on table
(1024 x 768, 121 kB)
The kitchen
(1024 x 768, 104 kB)
Staircase from the attic
(1024 x 768, 134 kB)
The attic
(1150 x 646, 143 kB)
Iron bed
(1024 x 768, 68 kB)
The bathroom
(1024 x 768, 74 kB)
Douche et WC
The shower
(760 x 760, 30 kB)
Down to the cellar
(1024 x 768, 150 kB)
The cellar
(1024 x 768, 108 kB)
The cellar
(1024 x 768, 68 kB)
The cellar
(1024 x 768, 85 kB)
Wine storage
(760 x 760, 72 kB)
Panoramic views

With POV Ray-Tracing, you can create a cylindrical or spherical panoramic view and then convert it to an interactive picture that you rotate to see under different angles. You can also zoom in and out. You can even see the panoramas with a "full screen" option. I am now using Adobe Flash® (SWF) pictures created with another software (Pano2VR) from the POV original ray-traced image. I find the effect amazing.

To view the pictures, you need a FlashPlayer plug-in; most browsers have one. Click each small picture to open the panoramas in a new window and navigate using the symbols at the bottom of the picture. As the SWF files are big, they need a few seconds to load. Today (Dec 2018) iPhones cannot play these files, as Adobe Flash Player is not available for such devices.

Use the "Fullscreen" option for a spectacular view.

Outside (900 x 675, 2.1 MB)
Inside (kitchen corner, 900 x 675, 1.7 MB)
Spherical view (1000 x 700, 7.2 MB)
Inside (sitting room, 900 x 675, 2.0 MB)
Attic (900 x 675, 1.6 MB)
Spherical view (800 x 600, 7.6 MB)
Cellar (900 x 675, 3.0 MB)

Garden table Other pictures

Several images drawn with POV are shown in another page.


Paradichlorobenzene Chemistry

Organic molecules (glucose, aspirin, caffeine, and more) and crystal structures designed with POV are shown in a second page.


Castle Pictures from others

I have found excellent ray-traced images made by other artists, modified several of them and you can see them in a third page.


The music, if you have clicked on the icon at the top, is J.S. Bach's fugue BVW577 (see my music page).

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