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20 Mar 2019

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Ray tracing

Virtual reality by François de Dardel

Bureau virtuel de François

The desk 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". I created it in 1999 and updated it more recently. Click to enlarge the picture.

All the objects 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. Textures and patterns are also programmed with POV.

In this particular picture, 4 items are imported in form of "Image Maps": these are the Tintin picture on the wall, the photo on the desk, the apple logo on the pencil holder, and the "Happy New Year" text on the desk. The other items are all constructed geometrically.

Détail du bureauOn my MacBook Pro (2018) the desk picture is rendered in 9 seconds. On the previous MacBook (2011), it took 38 s, on my Macintosh G4 with biprocessor at 1 GHz (2002), it took 3 minutes 17 seconds in a 1024 x 768 pixel size. On my Mac 8500 (1998), it took one to two hours, and on my old Mac IIci (1993), rendering the same image could take as long as a full day... The image above is a compressed jpeg of 1024 x 768 pixels. Here on the left, I have rendered only a detail at a larger scale.

I have borrowed the blue vase ("skyvase") from another ray-tracing author (Dan Farmer), the pencil (which I modified) from Jorge Arreguín and some of the wooden textures from Dan Farmer again and Paul Novak. These are supplied together with the (free of charge) ray tracing software of POV.

I created the other objects: the column, the table, the paperweight, the golden sign with my name, the pencil holder and the picture frames, and assembled them to this picture. It took me about three days (in 1999)...

The plant and the tree are based on a file by Jean-Laurent Pradel (1998), which I have slightly modified. There are 21 parameters to play with and change the style of the tree. You may see six examples in this page with different settings. The result looks somewhat artificial, but the image renders quite fast, because the algorithm used to create it is very compact, which does not mean it is simple.

The splendid yellow flying boat was created by Kurt Bangert. It is a very faithful reproduction of the Boeing 314 "Yankee Clipper" operated by Pan American between 1939 and 1951. For interest, here are the specifications and a photograph of the original big plane. With POV, I made 99 different pictures of the plane flying around the island, and converted it to an animated GIF.

The Apple keyboard with its 110 keys took me five days to create...

Pictures open in a separate window. JavaScript is required for proper display.
(1024 x 768, 110 kB)
(1024 x 768, 100 kB)
(800 x 800, 70 kB)
Renaissance table
(1024 x 768, 159 kB)
iPhone & lighter
(1024 x 768, 87 kB)
Swiss honey
(1024 x 768, 78 kB)
(1024x768, 115 kB)
Bronze clock
(1024x768, 95 kB)
(1024 x 768, 143 kB)
Pot with plant
(1024 x 768, 139 kB)
Garden table
Garden table
(1024 x 768, 146 kB)
(1024 x 768, 223 kB)
(1024 x 768, 59 kB)
Mississippi boat
(1024 x 768, 146 kB)
See more here.
Boeing 314
The flying boat
(1024 x 768, 84 kB)
See the original B314
(1024 x 768, 103 kB)
Avion volant autour de l'île
Flying around
(1024 x 576, 1.2 MB)
GIF animation
A cargo ship
(1024 x 768, 99 kB)
Night view
(1024 x 768, 33 kB)
(1024 x 768, 63 kB)
Desk detail
(1024 x 768, 102 kB)
Apple keyboard
(1200 x 600, 65 kB)
Book & pencil
(1024 x 768, 69 kB)
An engraved dice
(800 x 600, 45 kB)
My first picture
(800 x 600, 68 kB)

The Italian villa

I created the Italian villa based on a painting by Francesco Granacci. See on the right my version and the original, viewed under the same angle. Unfortunately, it is impossible to describe convincingly human beings with pure geometry, and vegetation is also difficult to model, as you can see from the tree, and takes a long time to render. On the left: a wide angle view of the villa. I borrowed the statue from an unknown expert. Palazzo
My version with
POV ray-tracing
Peinture de Granacci
The original
by Granacci

Other pages
House The house project

45 pictures of my house on its island, all made from the same file but with various settings (notably point of view and light type), including several 360° panoramic views.

Bidr's view

Paradichlorobenzene Chemistry

Several organic molecules (glucose, aspirin, caffeine, and more) and crystal structures drawn 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 the first movement of J.S. Bach's concerto BVW1065 for 4 harpsichords (see my music page).

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