Also Known As: None

Type Scene description
Colors NA
Compression Uncompressed
Maximum Image Size NA
Multiple Images Per File NA
Numerical Format NA
Originator Craig Kolb
Platform All
Supporting Applications Rayshade, others
See Also


Description of scenes meant to be rendered by programs such as Rayshade.

A well-constructed format that has influenced writers of more recent ray-tracing programs.

Vendor specifications are available for this format.

Rayshade is a ray-tracing application created by Craig Kolb. It is well-respected and has been widely distributed, particularly on the Internet and throughout the PC MS-DOS world, but it has largely been superseded by more recent ray-tracing programs.

File Organization
File Details
For Further Information

The format implements a scene description language, which could be (and has been) used as a model for later rendering applications. It would be a good model to study if you are in the process of writing yet another ray-tracing or 3D scene-rendering application.

File Organization

Like many ray-tracing formats, Rayshade files consist of a series of ASCII lines that implement a proprietary command language, this one associated with the Rayshade application.

File Details

The following summary information about the Rayshade format is extracted from the Rayshade 4.0 Quick Reference document by Craig Kolb, which is included on the CD-ROM.

Reals and integers may be written in exponential notation, with or without a decimal point. Reals are truncated to integers when need be.

Numbers may also be written as expressions surrounded by a matched pair of parentheses. Sub-expressions may be parenthesized to control the order of evaluation.

Variables may be defined and used in parenthesized expressions.

Predefined variables include the following:

time (current time)
frame (current frame number, 0 - frames - 1)
dtor (pi/180)
rotd (180/pi)

Available operators include the following:

+ (addition)
- (subtraction and negation)
* (multiplication)
/ (division)
% (remainder)
^ (exponentiation)

Functions include the following:


Strings are written as non-quoted strings that may include uppercase and lowercase letters, non-leading digits, and the following special characters:

/ (slash)
- (dash)
_ (underscore)
. (period)

The following command-line options are supported. These override options are set in the input file:

-A frame First frame to render
-a Toggle alpha channel
-C cutoff Adaptive tree cutoff
-c Continued rendering
-D depth Maximum ray tree depth
-E eye_sep Eye separation
-e Exponential RLE output
-F freq Report frequency
-f Flip triangle normals
-G gamma Gamma exponent
-g Use Gaussian filter
-h Help
-j Toggle jittered sampling
-l Render left eye view
-m Produce sample map
-N frames Total frames to render
-n No shadows
-O outfile Output filename
-o Toggle opaque shadows
-P cpp-args Arguments for cpp
-p Preview-quality
-q Run quietly
-R xres yres Resolution
-r Right eye view
-S samples Use Samples^2 samples
-s Toggle shadow caching
-T r g b Contrast threshold
-u Toggle use of cpp
-V filename Verbose file output
-v Verbose output
-W lx hx ly hy Render subwindow
-X l r b t Crop window

Here are the author's specifications for the construction of the input file:

File: /* Input file consists of... */
  <Item> [<Item> ... ]
ObjItem: /* Items used in object definition blocks */
  eyep Xpos Ypos Zpos        /* Eye position (0 -10 0) */
  lookp Xpos Ypos Zpos       /* Look position (0 0 0) */
  up Xup Yup Zup             /* "up" vector (0 0 1) */
  fov Hfov [Vfov]            /* Field of view in degrees (horiontal=45) */
  aperture Width             /* Aperture width (0) */
  focaldist Distance         /* Focal distance (|eyep - lookp|) */
  shutter Speed              /* Shutter speed (0 --> no blur) */
  framelength Length         /* Length of a single frame (1) */
  screen Xsize Ysize         /* Screen size */
  window Xmin Xmax Ymin Ymax /* Window (0 xsize-1 0 ysize-1) */
  crop left right bot top    /* Crop window (0 1 0 1) */
  eyesep Separation          /* Eye separation (0) */
SurfDef: /* Give a name to a set of surface attributes */
    surface Name <SurfSpec> [<SurfSpec> ...]
Surface: /* Surface specification */
    <SurfSpec>                /* Use gven attributes */
    Surfname [<SurfSpec> ...] 
         /* Use named surface w/ optional mods */
    cursurf  [<SurfSpec> ...] 
         /* Use cur. surface w/mods - see ApplySurf */
SurfSpec: /* Surface attribute specification */
  ambient R G B              /* Ambient contribution */
  diffuse R G B              /* Diffuse color */
  specular R G B             /* Specular color */
  specpow Exponent           /* Phong exponent */
  body R G B                 /* Body color */
  extinct Coef               /* Extinction coefficient */
  transp Ktr                 /* Transparency */
  reflect Kr                 /* Reflectivity */
  index N                    /* Index of refraction */
  translu Ktl R G B Stpow    /* Translucency, transmit diffuse, spec exp */
  noshadow                   /* No shadows cast on this surface */
Effect: /* Atmospheric Effects */
  mist   R G B Rtrans Gtrans Btrans Zero Scale
  fog    R G B Rtrans Gtrans Btrans
Atmosphere: /* Global atmosphere */
  atmosphere [Index] <Effect> [<Effect>...]
            /* Global index, effects */
  applysurf <Surface>
            /* Apply surf to all following objs w/o surface */
Instance:                     /* Instance of an object */
  <Object> [<Transforms>] [<Textures>]
  Primitive                   /* Primitive object */
  Aggregate                   /* Named aggregate */
ObjDef:                       /* Define a named object */
  name Objname <Instance>
Primitive:                    /* Primitive object */
  plane    [<Surface>] Xpos Ypos Zpos Xnorm Ynorm Znorm
  disc     [<Surface>] Radius Xpos Ypos Zpos Xnorm Ynorm Znorm
  sphere   [<Surface>] Radius Xpos Ypos Zpos
  triangle [<Surface>] Xv1 Yv1 Zv1
                   Xv2 Yv2 Zv2  Xv3 Yv3 Zv3
            /* flat-shaded triangle */
  triangle [<Surface>] Xv1 Yv1 Zv1 Xn1 Yn1 Zn1
                    Xv2 Yv2 Zv2 Xn2 Yn2 Zn2
                    Xv3 Yv3 Zv3 Xn3 Yn3 Zn3
            /* Phong-shaded triangle */
  polygon  [<Surface>] Xv1 Yv1 Zv1
                    Xv2 Yv2 Zv2  Xv3 Yv3 Zv3 [Xv3 Yv4 Zv4 ...]
  box      [<Surface>] Xlow Ylow Zlow
                    Xhi  Yhi  Zhi
  cylinder [<Surface>] Radius Xbase Ybase Zbase Xapex Yapex Zapex
  cone     [<Surface>] Rbase Xbase Ybase Zbase  Rapex Xapex Yapex
  torus    [<Surface>] Rswept Rtube Xpos Ypos Zpos Xnorm Ynorm
  blob     [<Surface>] Thresh Stren Rad Xpos Ypos Zpos
                   [Stren Rad X Y Z ...]
  heightfield [<Surface>] Filename
  grid X Y Z <ObjItem> [<ObjItem> ...]  end
  list <ObjItem> [<ObjItem> ...] end
  union      <Object> <Object> [<Object> ...] end
  intersect  <Object> <Object> [<Object> ...] end
  difference <Object> <Object> [<Object> ...] end
  /* CSG only works properly when applied to closed objects, e.g.:
   * sphere, box, torus, blob, closed Aggregate, other Csg object
Transforms: /* Transformations */
  translate   Xtrans Ytrans Ztrans
  scale       Xscale Yscale Zscale
  rotate      Xaxis Yaxis Zaxis Degrees
  transform  A   B   C
             D   E   F
             G   H   I
            [Xt  Yt  Zt]
  texture   <TextType> [Transforms] [<Texture>
  checker   <Surface>
  blotch    Scale <Surface>
  bump      Bumpscale
  marbl     [Colormapname]
  fbm       Offset Scale H Lambda Octaves Thresh [Colormapname]
  fbmbump   `Offset Scale H Lambda Octaves
  gloss     Glossiness
  cloud     Scale H Lambda Octaves Cthresh Lthresh Transcale
  sky       Scale H Lambda Octaves Cthresh Lthresh
  stripe    <Surface> Width Bumpscale [<Mapping>]
  windy     Scale Wscale Cscale Bscale Octaves Tscale Hscale Offset
  image     Imagefile [<ImageTextOption>
  component  <SufComp>
  range      Lo Hi
  textsurf   <Surface>
  tile       U V
  map uv
  map cylindrical   [Xorigin Yorigin Zorigin Xup Yup Zup Xu Yu Zu]
  map planar        [Xorigin Yorigin Zorigin Xv  Yv  Zv  Xu Yu Zu]
  map spherical     [Xorigin Yorigin Zorigin Xup Yup Zup Xu Yu Zu]
  light R G B <LightType>     [noshadow]
  light Intensity <LightType> [noshadow]
  point         Xpos Ypos Zpos
  directional   Xdir Ydir Zdir
  extended      Radius Xpos Ypos Zpos
  spot          Xpos Ypos Zpos Xat Yat Zat Coef Thetain Thetaout
  area          Xorigin Yorigin Zorigin Xu Yu Zu 
                Usamples Xv Yv Zv Vsamples
  samples      Nsamp [jitter | nojitter]
  /* Use Nsamp^2 pixel samples (3^2 jittered) */
  background R G B    /* Background color (0 0 0) */
  outfile    Filename /* Output file name (written to stdout) */
  frames     Nframes  /* Number of frames to render (1) */
  starttime  Time     /* Time corresponding to start of frame 0 */
  contrast   R G B    /* Maximum contrast w/o supersampling */
  maxdepth   Depth    /* Maximum ray tree depth (5)  */
  cutoff     Factor   /*  inium spawned ray contribution (.001) */
  report [verbose] [quiet] [Freq] [Statfile]
                      /* Reporting mode (false false 10 stderr) */
  shadowtransp        /* Toggle object opacity affects shadows */
Definition:           /* Variable definition */
  define Name Expr    /* Assign value for Name */

For Further Information

For further information about the Rayshade format, see the Rayshade 4.0 Quick Reference, included on the CD-ROM.

You can also contact the author:

Stanford University
Attn: Craig Kolb
372 Gates Building
Department of Computer Science
Stanford, CA 94305-4070
Email: cek@graphics.stanford.edu

The Rayshade application package is available from various archive sites on the Internet and from many PC MS-DOS BBSs. For further information, contact the author at the above address.

The author also maintains the following Rayshade sites:


Copyright © 1996, 1994 O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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