I have been searching for 3D renderers / ray-tracers for
DOS / MS Windows / MS Windows NT. (Preferably Windows or NT).
(I do not want to go into any discussion about 'why not
use Unix instead...'.)
The usage beeing; I have a 3D model from a CAD system and
I want to put this model into a renderer / ray-tracer that runs
on DOS / W / NT.
Many wanted me to forward my findings, thus this posting.
There are various systems floating around on internet with
various degree of support / backing. Many have source available
and some are 'public domain'. A comprehensive guide
for finding such systems can be found in a document called
'Computer Graphics Resource Listing' in the conference
'comp.graphics'. The list is maintained by Nick Fotis
If you are interested in a commersial product that is backed
(i.e. support, upgrades, product testing, documentation etc)
by a responsible company AND that runs with Microsoft Windows
in some way, then your options are reduced considerably.
The most important reason to this is the demands that such
systems put on the basic HW / OS. I have talked to people that
use a MS-DOS based version of 3D Studio (from Autodesk), and
they argue that the program works well with a 50 MHz 486 and
16 M RAM. You can run with less, but it is not practical.
A Windows implementation of such a system would be slower, since
Windows takes away more resources (memory + CPU) than when just
running a DOS-extender. So this is why there are so few systems
available under Windows today.
However; users want to go to integrated environments
(move easily between apps and exhange data easily). (E.g. between
your CAD, your ray-tracer and your photo-realistic paint-program.)
Furthermore, cheaper HW (486 / memory) and Microsofts commitment to NT,
will remove todays arguments for not running this kind of SW on Windows
Here is a short summary of the systems I have found. I have
not done much to verify the correctness of the received info,
so there may be some errors or 'not up to date' info. Please
mail me corrections and info on products that should have been
1) 3D Studio version 2. End user tool. Only DOS, no Win or Win NT.
The program is fast - you are talking minutes and hours, not
days/nights (486/50MHz, 16M RAM). You can do some editing on
the input model. The product is backed by Autodesk.
Does no support RIB input (just 3D DXF).
For my needs, this would be the ideal program, if it could run
under Windows and supported a documented input-format that can
describe a scene more precisely than can a 3D DXF file.
(E.g. texture mapping tables, camera position, spot positions,
surfaces with more than 4 edge vertexes, etc.)
2) Developers RenderMan. OEM toolkit. Only DOS, no Win or Win NT ???
This toolkit is used by many companies developing CAD systems.
You may use function calls from an application program or
batch-process a RIB input file with a separat program. The
toolkit is supported by Pixar.
3) LightWorks. OEM toolkit. DOS and Windows.
The only system I have found that supports advanced
features AND explicit says that MS Windows is supported and
that NT will be supported in the future.
The app program uses LightWorks API to describe the scene.
As 'output' from LightWorks comes scanlines, which the app
essentially can draw on any device it likes. Not sure
if it there is a standalone batch processing program available
or any API calls to load an entire input file (e.g. RIB format).
Supported by LightWork Design Ltd in England.
4) Digital Arts (Raytracing add on). End user tool. Only DOS.
Supported by Video Bits. For more info, try:
5) RenderLib. OEM toolkit. Windows.
Not too sure about advanced rendering capabilities like
ray-tracing. A demo can be found on most Windows utility
sites under the name '3drender.zip'.
6) RenderStar 2. End user tool. Only DOS.
Supported by Modern Medium BV, Holland.
20. Oct -92