Povray Render settings

Selecting one of the stored render configurations displays the settings at the configuration area.

Render Configuration

Configuration settings

The name field is used to specify the name of the configuration. Use a speaking name here, maybe including some of the render configuration used (example: Tutorial 640x480 Q9 AA).

Using the "Renderer" group you can select the renderer to be used, the default is "Povray".
If "MegaPOV" is chosen the MegaPOV specific settings are enabled:

  • File tab: HDR image type
  • Annimation tab: MegaPOV group (frame step)

The various other settings can be configured in the tabbed area.

Links to the Povray and MegaPOV documentation

The information icons are links into the Povray or MegaPOV documentation.
Click on them to open the documentation on the corresponding topic.

File tab

File tab
Scene description and image output file
  • POV file: the absolute path to the Povray or MegaPOV scene file to be rendered. You can use the Browse button to search for the file. If you use the button the field Image file is pre-filled with a default value.

    Note: This path is sent to Povray as it is, so use the ABSOLUT path here, otherwise Povray will not be able to find the file!

  • Image file: This is the name Povray should use as output file.
    If there is an output folder defined within the project properties folder layout, the configured output folder is automatically included in the path when browsing the Povray input file using the "Browse" button.

    Note: This path is sent to Povray as it is, so use the ABSOLUT path here, otherwise Povray will not be able to write the file!

Image format
  • Image format: Select one of the image formats Povray supports.
    The HDR (High Dynamic Range) format is only available if you choose "MegaPOV" as renderer.
    The extension of the image output file is automatically switched when coosing an other output file format.
  • Bits per color: Most of the image formats output 24 bits per pixel with 8 bits for each of red, green and blue data. PNG and PPM allow to optionally specify the output bit depth from 5 to 16 bits for each of the red, green, and blue colors, giving from 15 to 48 bits of color information per pixel. The default output depth for all formats is 8 bits/color (16 million possible colors), but this may be changed for PNG and PPM format files.
    Specifying a smaller color depth like 5 bits/color (32768 colors) may be enough for people with 8- or 16-bit (256 or 65536 color) displays, and will improve compression of the PNG file. Higher bit depths like 10 or 12 may be useful for video or publishing applications, and 16 bits/color is good for grayscale height field output.
  • Output alpha: Targa format also allows 8 bits of alpha transparency data to be output, while PNG format allows 5 to 16 bits of alpha transparency data, depending on the color bit depth as specified above.

Image tab

Image tab

The image tab holds the image size, antialias and quality settings.

Image size
  • Width: The width of the rendered image (Pixel)
  • Height: The height of the rendered image (Pixel)
  • Chain: click on it to enable or disable the image ratio preservation.
    If enabled changing either the width or height results in changing the opposite as well, thus preserving the original image ratio.
  • Use antialias: Enables or disables the usage of antialias.
  • Sampling method: One of the supported Povray sampling methods: 1 or 2
  • Antialias threshold: The threshold to be used.
  • Antialias depth: The antialias rendering depth to be used.
  • Use Jitter: Enables or disables the usage of antialias Jitter.
  • Jitter amount: The jitter amount to be used.
Partial Output
  • Measurement: percentage or Pixel
    The two radio buttons are switching the numeric fields below between percentage and Pixel mode. The values are recalculated using the content of the image width and height fields as 100 percent values.
  • Start column, End column, Start row, End row: When doing test rendering it is often convenient to define a small, rectangular sub-section of the whole screen so you can quickly check out one area of the image. The Start row, End row, Start column and End column options allow you to define the subset area to be rendered.
    The values are the percentage of the total width or height of the image.
    If Start row equals End row these two values are not utilized. If Start column equals End column these two values are not utilized.
  • Test abort: On some operating systems once you start a rendering you must let it finish. If this switch is selected, POV-Ray tests the keyboard for keypress. If you have pressed a key, it will generate a controlled user abort. Files will be flushed and closed but only data through the last full row of pixels is saved.
  • Abort count: When Test abort is on, the keyboard is polled on every line while parsing the scene file and on every pixel while rendering. Because polling the keyboard can slow down a rendering, the Abort count option causes the test to be performed only every n pixels rendered or scene lines parsed.
  • Continue trace: Sets continued trace on/off
  • Create INI file: If selected, POV-Ray will create a file called rerun.ini with all of the options used to generate this scene.
  • Quality: Select one of the quality levels supported by Povray.

Animation tab

Image tab

The animation tab holds the animation loops, animation frame and cyclic animation settings:

External Animation Loop
  • Use: Enables or disables the external animation loop usage.
  • Clock: The external animation loop clock counter value.
Internal Animation Loop
  • Use: Enables or disables the internal animation loop usage.
  • Initial frame: The initial frame number to start with.
  • Final frame: The last frame number to be rendered.
  • Initial clock: The initial clock value to start with.
  • Final clock: The final clock value to end with.
  • Frame step: Utilized if other than 1.

    The Frame_Step=n (+STPn) option introduces breaks in the order of rendered steps. It splits the order of rendered frames into a 'virtual' and a 'real' order.

    'Virtual' order is the same as the traditional (used in POV-Ray 3.6) order described with Initial_Frame, Final_Frame, Initial_Clock, Final_Clock, Subset_Start_Frame, Subset_End_Frame. This order is what the scripts reads from initial_frame, clock_delta and other animation related build-in tokens in SDL.

    'Real' order is a subset of 'virtual' order. It is every n-th frame where n is the value of Frame_Step. Selected frames are reordered (with ascending or descending order) according to the sign of Frame_Step option.

    Frame_Step is supposed to use parallel rendering over one source with one location shared between instances of renderer.

Please note that this group is only available if "MegaPOV" is chosen as renderer!

Cyclic Animation
  • Enable: Enables or disables the usage of cyclic animation.
Subset of Animation Frames
  • Use: Enables or disables the usage.
  • Start frame: The frame to start with.
  • End frame: The frame to end with.

Display output tab

Display output tab

The Display output tab holds the hardware and display related settings as well as the mosaic preview option:

Display Hardware settings
  • Display: if enabled the rendered image is being displayed while rendered.
  • Use video mode setting: Enables or disables the video mode usage.
  • Video Mode: The Video Mode option sets the display mode or hardware type chosen where the value is a single digit or letter that is machine dependent. Generally Video Mode=0 means the default or an auto-detected setting should be used.
  • Use palette setting: Enables or disables the palette usage.
  • Video Mode: The Palette option selects the palette to be used. Typically the single character parameter Y is a digit which selects one of several fixed palettes or a letter such G for gray scale, H for 15-bit or 16-bit high color or T for 24-bit true color
  • Display Gamma: The Display Gamma setting overcomes the problem of images (whether ray-traced or not) having different brightness when being displayed on different monitors, different video cards, and under different operating systems.
Display related settings
  • Pause when done: If selected Povray is not shut down after rendering automatically.
  • Verbose messages: If selected the verbose reporting of your rendering progress is enabled. This reports the number of the line currently being rendered, the elapsed time for the current frame and other information.
  • Draw vistas: Vista buffering is a spatial sub-division method that projects the 2-D extents of bounding boxes onto the viewing window. POV-Ray tests the 2-D x, y pixel location against these rectangular areas to determine quickly which objects, if any, the viewing ray will hit. This option shows you the 2-D rectangles used.
Mosaic preview
  • Start size: The value should be a number greater than zero that is a power of two (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, etc.) If it is not a power of two, the nearest power of two less than n is substituted. This sets the size of the squares, measured in pixels. A value of 16 will draw every 16th pixel as a 16*16 pixel square on the first pass. Subsequent passes will use half the previous value (such as 8*8, 4*4 and so on.)
  • End size: The process continues until it reaches 1*1 pixels or until it reaches the size you set with this option. Again the value n should be a number greater than zero that is a power of two and less than or equal to the Start size. If it is not a power of two, the nearest power of two less than n is substituted.

CPU Utilization Histogram tab

CPU Utilization Histogram tab

The CPU utilization histogram is a way of finding out where POV-Ray is spending its rendering time, as well as an interesting way of generating heightfields. The histogram splits up the screen into a rectangular grid of blocks. As POV-Ray renders the image, it calculates the amount of time it spends rendering each pixel and then adds this time to the total rendering time for each grid block. When the rendering is complete, the histogram is a file which represents how much time was spent computing the pixels in each grid block.

CPU Utilization Histogram
  • Generate CPU histogram: Enables or disables the generation of a CPU utilization diagram.
  • File name: The histogram file name is the name of the file in which to write the histogram data.
  • Grid size width, height: The histogram grid size gives the number of times the image is split up in both the horizontal and vertical directions.
    For example: image width=640, image height=480, grid size width=160, grid size height=120 will split the image into 160*120 grid blocks, each of size 4*4 pixels. Smaller numbers for the grid size mean more pixels are put into the same grid block. With CSV output, the number of values output is the same as the number of grid blocks specified. For the other formats the image size is identical to the rendered image rather than the specified grid size, to allow easy comparison between the histogram and the rendered image. If the histogram grid size is not specified, it will default to the same size as the image, so there will be one grid block per pixel.
Histogram output file type
  • Select the desired file type.

Bounding tab

Bounding tab

POV-Ray uses a variety of spatial sub-division systems to speed up ray-object intersection tests. The primary system uses a hierarchy of nested bounding boxes. This system compartmentalizes all finite objects in a scene into invisible rectangular boxes that are arranged in a tree-like hierarchy. Before testing the objects within the bounding boxes the tree is descended and only those objects are tested whose bounds are hit by a ray. This can greatly improve rendering speed. However for scenes with only a few objects the overhead of using a bounding system is not worth the effort.

Automatic Bounding Control
  • Use Bounding: Disabling forces not to use bounding.
  • Threshold: The Threshold value allows you to set the minimum number of objects necessary before bounding is used.
  • Light Buffer: The light buffer is created by enclosing each light source in an imaginary box and projecting the bounding box hierarchy onto each of its six sides. Since this relies on a fixed light source, light buffers will not be used for area lights.
  • Vista Buffer: The vista buffer is created by projecting the bounding box hierarchy onto the screen and determining the rectangular areas that are covered by each of the elements in the hierarchy. Only those objects whose rectangles enclose a given pixel are tested by the primary viewing ray. The vista buffer can only be used with perspective and orthographic cameras because they rely on a fixed viewpoint and a reasonable projection (i. e. straight lines have to stay straight lines after the projection).
Removing User Bounding

Early versions of POV-Ray had no system of automatic bounding or spatial sub-division to speed up ray-object intersection tests. Users had to manually create bounding boxes to speed up the rendering. Since version 3.0, POV-Ray has had more sophisticated automatic bounding than any previous version. In many cases the manual bounding on older scenes is slower than the new automatic systems. Therefore POV-Ray removes manual bounding when it knows it will help. In rare instances you may want to keep manual bounding. Some older scenes incorrectly used bounding when they should have used clipping. If POV-Ray removes the bounds in these scenes the image will not look right.

  • Remove Bounds: To turn off the automatic removal of manual bounds deselects the box.
  • Split unions: Unbounded unions are always split into their component parts so that automatic bounding works better. Most users do not bound unions because they know that doing so is usually slower. If you do manually bound a union we presume you really want it bound. For safety sake we do not presume to remove such bounds. If you want to remove manual bounds from unions you should select this checkbox.

Scene parsing tab

Scene Parsing tab

  • Include header: This option allows you to include a file as the first include file of a scene file. You can for example use this option to always include a specific set of default include files used by all your scenes.
    A relative path can be used if the selected file resides within the library path setting, otherwise use an absolute path.
    Use the "Browse" button to select a specific file.
  • Povray Version: Set initial language compatibility to version n.n (default is 3.6)
  • Declarations: Constants defines here are visible to the scene file being rendered. The value being set has to be a float or integer value. Use the buttons to edit the list:
    • "Add" creates a new constant entry.
    • "Edit" edits the selected entry.
    • "Remove" deletes the selected entry.
    • "Up" moves the selected entry up 1 step.
    • "Down" moves the selected entry down 1 step.

Shell Out tab

Shell Out tab

Shell-out commands

POV-Ray offers the opportunity to shell-out to the operating system at several key points to execute another program or batch file. Usually this is used to manage files created by the internal animation loop however the shell commands are available for any scene. The command string is a single line of text which is passed to the operating system to execute a program.

POV-Ray can substitute various values into a command string for you. The "Substitution List" group lists all known substitution keys.
For example, when using the command "tga2gif -d -m %s" POV-Ray will substitute the %s with the scene name in the command. The scene name is the POV file setting at the Image tab with any drive, directory and extension removed.

  • Pre scene command: command executed before entire scene.
  • Pre frame command: command executed before each frame.
  • Post scene command: command executed after entire scene.
  • Post frame command: command executed after each frame.
  • User abort command: command executed on a Povray user abort.
  • Fatal error command: command executed on a Povray fatal error

Shell Command Sequencing

Here is the sequence of events in an animation loop. Non-animated scenes work the exact same way except there is no loop.

  1. Process all INI file keywords and command line switches just once.
  2. Open any text output streams and do Create_INI if any.
  3. Execute "Pre scene command" if any.
  4. Loop through frames (or just do once on non-animation).
    1. Execute "Pre frame command" if any.
    2. Parse entire scene file, open output file and read settings, turn on display, render the frame, destroy all objects, textures etc., close output file, close display.
    3. Execute "Post frame command" if any.
    4. Repeat above steps until all frames are done.
  5. Execute "Post scene command" if any.
  6. Finish

If the user interrupts processing the "User abort command", if any, is executed. User aborts can only occur during the parsing and rendering parts of step (4b) above. If a fatal error occurs that POV-Ray notices the "Fatal error command", if any, is executed. Sometimes an unforeseen bug or memory error could cause a total crash of the program in which case there is no chance to shell out. Fatal errors can occur just about anywhere including during the processing of switches or INI files. If a fatal error occurs before POV-Ray has read the "Fatal error command" string then obviously no shell can occur.

Note: the entire scene is re-parsed for every frame. Future versions of POV-Ray may allow you to hold over parts of a scene from one frame to the next but for now it starts from scratch every time.

Note: that the "Pre frame command" occurs before the scene is parsed. You might use this to call some custom scene generation utility before each frame. This utility could rewrite your .pov or .inc files if needed. Perhaps you will want to generate new .gif or .tga files for image maps or height fields on each frame.

Shell Command Return Actions

Most operating systems allow application programs to return an error code if something goes wrong. When POV-Ray executes a shell command it can make use of this error code returned from the shell process and take some appropriate action if the code is zero or non-zero. POV-Ray itself returns such codes. It returns 0 for success, 1 for fatal error and 2 for user abort.

For example if your "Pre frame command" calls a program which generates your height field data and that utility fails then it will return a non-zero code. We would probably want POV-Ray to abort as well. The option "Pre frame return"="Generate a fatal error in POV-Ray" will cause POV-Ray to do a fatal abort if the "Pre frame command" returns a non-zero code.

Additional parameter

Shell Out tab

PovClipse supports all Povray options directly. If you are using a patched Povray version knowing other than the standard Povray options you can specify them using this tab.

Whatever you type in one of the provided text fields is handed over directly to the command line calling Povray. There is no difference between the five lines, they are for your convenience only. If a line is not empty (or contain whitespaces only) it's content is added to the command line calling Povray, using the order of the fields.

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