POV-Ray (the Persistence of Vision Raytracer, www.povray.org) is a very high quality image rendering tool that uses a technique called "raytracing" to produce potentially photo-realistic images. It relies on a low-level, text-file-based command language to create "scene descriptions," where a scene is composed of virtual objects created by the user. While raytracing can produce amazing results, it is also highly computation-intensive and noninteractive. Users considering this tool are strongly encouraged to contact the LC Graphics team to determine if there is another method to visualize their data that may be faster and require less computational load.


Machines and Versions

See LC graphics software page.


POV-Ray is installed in /usr/global/tools/povray/latest/$SYS_TYPE. Typing povray at the Unix prompt activates a wrapper script installed in the user default path of /usr/local/bin/povray.


No special settings are necessary for POV-Ray. By default, running /usr/local/bin/povray sets the POVINI environment variable to /usr/global/tools/povray/3.50c/${SYS_TYPE}/etc/povray.ini before launching the actual POV-Ray binary, located in /usr/global/tools/povray/latest/$SYS_TYPE/bin. The povray.ini file sets up defaults that allow common "include" files such as colors.inc to be found.


POV-Ray is a complex tool based on text command files. Users are encouraged to read the documentation found in /usr/global/tools/povray/latest/$SYS_TYPE/share/doc/povray-3.50c/html for details and tutorials.

Typically, one puts commands in a file as in the following example, named something like filename.pov:

#include "colors.inc" // The include files contain
#include "stones.inc" // pre-defined scene elements

background { color Cyan }
camera {
location <0, 2, -3>
look_at <0, 1, 2>
sphere {
<0, 1, 2>, 2
texture {
pigment { color Yellow }
light_source { <2, 4, -3> color White}

The file is then "run" with the following command:

povray filename.pov


See /usr/global/tools/povray/latest/$SYS_TYPE/share/doc/povray-3.50c/html/index.html, or go to www.povray.org for more resources.

Help is available from the lc-hotline@llnl.gov, (925) 422-4531.


POV-Ray is available for download from www.povray.org. However, be advised that building on AIX, IRIX, and certain other Unix-like OSs may require some modification of the install scripts.