Motivation

In 1995 to 1996 Thomas Schmidt and me completed a practical training. Still image of Museum (room 5) The city was a dead place at this time, therefore evenings were pretty boring and some weekends too. In 1995 "Toy Story" went on screen in the movies all over the world. The first full computer-generated movie. In all magazins and newspapers were stories about the creation of characters and story, technical backgrounds, and descriptions of the huge renderfarm. We were dealing with POV-Ray for one or two years and knew the demands for fast machines. Therefore we could imagine how much rendering power a 90min movie with 25 frames a second needs. All these things motivated us to try to produce an own animation with our favourite raytracer POV-Ray. Still image of Museum (frame 606) Of course, we should not forget to mention two famous and inspiring short films, "Luxo Jr." and "Red's dream", also produced by Pixar.

Pixar uses expensive software and hundreds of machines to produce their animation movies. We had to find an inexpensive way to do it. POV-Ray is free, powerful, and we had a lot of pratice using it. The hardware site was powered by our own PCs and the Sun pool at our university. At the end we used the same type of machines Pixar did.

Thomas setup a render array using simple but powerful shell scripts. We used the night time and the weekends to render the movie and all needed previews. Therefore we did not affect the users of the pool at all. We also gave PVM-Pov a chance. But it does not make a lot of sense to distribute single image rendering across multiple machines when you have hundreds of images to render. So we returned to a plain POV-Ray version.

Background information

Let's give some background information about the creation of the animation itself. Still image of Museum (frame 539) At the beginning we had only the idea of a museum hall with a revolving door entrance and rooms with special attractions. So we started to design the hall, the revolving door, and the pathway through the door. Still image of Museum (frame 43) After rendering the first images we recognized the huge memory demands of our large scenery. Therefore we introduced dark sliding doors to each room. This made it possible to reduce the scene to fewer viewable parts without destroying the illusion of a large building. The rooms behind the dark doors could not be seen and therefore we spared this part from our scripts. You will see a kind of cut at some doors, that tries to hide this trick. This speeded up the complete rendering process dramatically.

Usually after finishing a room we create the path and rendered a low quality preview overnight (half resolution and a quality level of 3 to 5). This gave us the opportunity to check the movements of the camera and the correct position of all scenery items with a low rendering effort. When everything went ok we started the final rendering of this part and afterwards checked it again. Sometimes we had to do it again and again because of texture or shadow errors.
We created the complete animation this way step by step. When the final rendering of a room scene began we started the design of the next room.

Facts

Still image of Museum (frame 381) Still image of Museum (frame 250)
  • Created with: POV-Ray 2.2, FTPov 1.0 (GCC 2.6.3 compile), PVM-POV
  • Modellers: none
  • Supporting tools: Berkely MPEGEncoder, Image converters, Shell scripts, own Pascal based programs
  • Frames: 3909
  • Frame size: NTSC 352 x 240 pixels
  • Rendertime per image: between 30 seconds and 30 minutes
  • Colors: True Colors - 24bit
  • Video formats: MPEG-1, AVI
  • Sound: none
  • Runtime: 4:20 min (with 15 frames/s)
  • File sizes: 10, 16, and 25Mb
  • Machines: Renderfarm of
    • 1 x i486DX4/100
    • 1 x i486DX2/66
    • 4 x Sun Sparc 20
    • 1 x Sun Sparc 10
    • 5 x Sun Sparc 5
    • 12 x Sun Sparc LX

Download

The large version has a download size of 25MB and plays with double speed (just another problem of old and new software standards) in most MPEG players. Download it here.

If you need a AVI version, you can find it on the first official IRTC CD. We rendered a special version for it. From the CD cover:

As a special bonus, the CD contains an AVI version of Thomas Schmidt and Rene' Schwietzke's excellent 'museum' raytraced animation. This AVI is 65 megabytes in size ! Also present are the high, medium, and low-bandwidth MPEG versions of this same animation. This AVI is not simply a conversion from the MPEG - it was put together by the authors from the original TGA files, especially for this CDROM.

Therefore I would like to encourage you to buy the first official IRTC CD to enjoy our animation. Another benefit besides hundreds of incredible pictures is the direct support of the POV-Ray server. Of course you can also buy all IRTC CDs at once and support even more the maintenance of the POV-Ray server.

Still image of Museum (frame 1947) Still image of Museum (frame 1592)