3.3.2 Atmospheric Effects

Atmospheric effects are a loosely-knit group of features that affect the background and/or the atmosphere enclosing the scene. POV-Ray includes the ability to render a number of atmospheric effects, such as fog, haze, mist, rainbows and skies. Atmospheric Media

Atmospheric effects such as fog, dust, haze, or visible gas may be simulated by a media statement specified in the scene but not attached to any object. All areas not inside a non-hollow object in the entire scene. A very simple approach to add fog to a scene is explained in section "Fog" however this kind of fog does not interact with any light sources like media does. It will not show light beams or other effects and is therefore not very realistic.

The atmosphere media effect overcomes some of the fog's limitations by calculating the interaction between light and the particles in the atmosphere using volume sampling. Thus shafts of light beams will become visible and objects will cast shadows onto smoke or fog.

Note: POV-Ray cannot sample media along an infinitely long ray. The ray must be finite in order to be possible to sample. This means that sampling media is only possible for rays that hit an object. So no atmospheric media will show up against background or sky_sphere.
Another way of being able to sample media is using spotlights because also in this case the ray is not infinite (it is sampled only inside the spotlight cone).

With spotlights you will be able to create the best results because their cone of light will become visible. Pointlights can be used to create effects like street lights in fog. Lights can be made to not interact with the atmosphere by adding media_interaction off to the light source. They can be used to increase the overall light level of the scene to make it look more realistic.

Complete details on media are given in the section "Media". Earlier versions of POV-Ray used an atmosphere statement for atmospheric effects but that system was incompatible with the old object halo system. So atmosphere has been eliminated and replaced with a simpler and more powerful media feature. The user now only has to learn one media system for either atmospheric or object use.

If you only want media effects in a particular area, you should use object media rather than only relying upon the media pattern. In general it will be faster and more accurate because it only calculates inside the constraining object.

Note: the atmosphere feature will not work if the camera is inside a non-hollow object (see section "Empty and Solid Objects" for a detailed explanation). Background

A background color can be specified if desired. Any ray that does not hit an object will be colored with this color. The default background is black. The syntax for background is:

       background {COLOR} Fog

If it is not necessary for light beams to interact with atmospheric media, then fog may be a faster way to simulate haze or fog. This feature artificially adds color to every pixel based on the distance the ray has traveled. The syntax for fog is:

    fog { [FOG_IDENTIFIER] [FOG_ITEMS...] }
    fog_type Fog_Type | distance Distance | COLOR | 
    turbulence <Turbulence> | turb_depth Turb_Depth |
    omega Omega | lambda Lambda | octaves Octaves |
    fog_offset Fog_Offset | fog_alt Fog_Alt | 
    up <Fog_Up> | TRANSFORMATION

Fog default values:

lambda     : 2.0
fog_type   : 1
fog_offset : 0.0
fog_alt    : 0.0
octaves    : 6
omega      : 0.5 
turbulence : <0,0,0>
turb_depth : 0.5
up         : <0,1,0>

Currently there are two fog types, the default fog_type 1 is a constant fog and fog_type 2 is ground fog. The constant fog has a constant density everywhere while the ground fog has a constant density for all heights below a given point on the up axis and thins out along this axis.

The color of a pixel with an intersection depth d is calculated by

PIXEL_COLOR = exp(-d/D) * OBJECT_COLOR + (1-exp(-d/D)) * FOG_COLOR

where D is the specified value of the required fog distance keyword. At depth 0 the final color is the object's color. If the intersection depth equals the fog distance the final color consists of 64% of the object's color and 36% of the fog's color.

Note: for this equation, a distance of zero is undefined. In practice, povray will treat this value as "fog is off". To use an extremely thick fog, use a small nonzero number such as 1e-6 or 1e-10.

For ground fog, the height below which the fog has constant density is specified by the fog_offset keyword. The fog_alt keyword is used to specify the rate by which the fog fades away. The default values for both are 0.0 so be sure to specify them if ground fog is used. At an altitude of Fog_Offset+Fog_Alt the fog has a density of 25%. The density of the fog at height less than or equal to Fog_Offset is 1.0 and for height larger than than Fog_Offset is calculated by:

1/(1 + (y - Fog_Offset) / Fog_Alt) ^2

The total density along a ray is calculated by integrating from the height of the starting point to the height of the end point.

The optional up vector specifies a direction pointing up, generally the same as the camera's up vector. All calculations done during the ground fog evaluation are done relative to this up vector, i. e. the actual heights are calculated along this vector. The up vector can also be modified using any of the known transformations described in "Transformations". Though it may not be a good idea to scale the up vector - the results are hardly predictable - it is quite useful to be able to rotate it. You should also note that translations do not affect the up direction (and thus do not affect the fog).

The required fog color has three purposes. First it defines the color to be used in blending the fog and the background. Second it is used to specify a translucency threshold. By using a transmittance larger than zero one can make sure that at least that amount of light will be seen through the fog. With a transmittance of 0.3 you will see at least 30% of the background. Third it can be used to make a filtering fog. With a filter value larger than zero the amount of background light given by the filter value will be multiplied with the fog color. A filter value of 0.7 will lead to a fog that filters 70% of the background light and leaves 30% unfiltered.

Fogs may be layered. That is, you can apply as many layers of fog as you like. Generally this is most effective if each layer is a ground fog of different color, altitude and with different turbulence values. To use multiple layers of fogs, just add all of them to the scene.

You may optionally stir up the fog by adding turbulence. The turbulence keyword may be followed by a float or vector to specify an amount of turbulence to be used. The omega, lambda and octaves turbulence parameters may also be specified. See section "Pattern Modifiers" for details on all of these turbulence parameters.

Additionally the fog turbulence may be scaled along the direction of the viewing ray using the turb_depth amount. Typical values are from 0.0 to 1.0 or more. The default value is 0.5 but any float value may be used.

Note: the fog feature will not work if the camera is inside a non-hollow object (see section "Empty and Solid Objects" for a detailed explanation). Sky Sphere

The sky sphere is used create a realistic sky background without the need of an additional sphere to simulate the sky. Its syntax is:


The sky sphere can contain several pigment layers with the last pigment being at the top, i. e. it is evaluated last, and the first pigment being at the bottom, i. e. it is evaluated first. If the upper layers contain filtering and/or transmitting components lower layers will shine through. If not lower layers will be invisible.

The sky sphere is calculated by using the direction vector as the parameter for evaluating the pigment patterns. This leads to results independent from the view point which pretty good models a real sky where the distance to the sky is much larger than the distances between visible objects.

If you want to add a nice color blend to your background you can easily do this by using the following example.

  sky_sphere {
    pigment {
      gradient y
      color_map {
        [ 0.5  color CornflowerBlue ]
        [ 1.0  color MidnightBlue ]
      scale 2
      translate -1

This gives a soft blend from CornflowerBlue at the horizon to MidnightBlue at the zenith. The scale and translate operations are used to map the direction vector values, which lie in the range from <-1, -1, -1> to <1, 1, 1>, onto the range from <0, 0, 0> to <1, 1, 1>. Thus a repetition of the color blend is avoided for parts of the sky below the horizon.

In order to easily animate a sky sphere you can transform it using the usual transformations described in "Transformations". Though it may not be a good idea to translate or scale a sky sphere - the results are hardly predictable - it is quite useful to be able to rotate it. In an animation the color blendings of the sky can be made to follow the rising sun for example.

Note: only one sky sphere can be used in any scene. It also will not work as you might expect if you use camera types like the orthographic or cylindrical camera. The orthographic camera uses parallel rays and thus you will only see a very small part of the sky sphere (you will get one color skies in most cases). Reflections in curved surface will work though, e. g. you will clearly see the sky in a mirrored ball. Rainbow

Rainbows are implemented using fog-like, circular arcs. Their syntax is:

    direction <Dir> | angle Angle | width Width |
    distance Distance | COLOR_MAP | jitter Jitter | up <Up> |
    arc_angle Arc_Angle | falloff_angle Falloff_Angle

Rainbow default values:

arc_angle     : 180.0
falloff_angle : 180.0
jitter        : 0.0
up            : y

The required direction vector determines the direction of the (virtual) light that is responsible for the rainbow. Ideally this is an infinitely far away light source like the sun that emits parallel light rays. The position and size of the rainbow are specified by the required angle and width keywords. To understand how they work you should first know how the rainbow is calculated.

For each ray the angle between the rainbow's direction vector and the ray's direction vector is calculated. If this angle lies in the interval from Angle-Width/2 to Angle+Width/2 the rainbow is hit by the ray. The color is then determined by using the angle as an index into the rainbow's color_map. After the color has been determined it will be mixed with the background color in the same way like it is done for fogs.

Thus the angle and width parameters determine the angles under which the rainbow will be seen. The optional jitter keyword can be used to add random noise to the index. This adds some irregularity to the rainbow that makes it look more realistic.

The required distance keyword is the same like the one used with fogs. Since the rainbow is a fog-like effect it is possible that the rainbow is noticeable on objects. If this effect is not wanted it can be avoided by using a large distance value. By default a sufficiently large value is used to make sure that this effect does not occur.

The color_map statement is used to assign a color map that will be mapped onto the rainbow. To be able to create realistic rainbows it is important to know that the index into the color map increases with the angle between the ray's and rainbow's direction vector. The index is zero at the innermost ring and one at the outermost ring. The filter and transmittance values of the colors in the color map have the same meaning as the ones used with fogs (see section "Fog").

The default rainbow is a 360 degree arc that looks like a circle. This is no problem as long as you have a ground plane that hides the lower, non-visible part of the rainbow. If this is not the case or if you do not want the full arc to be visible you can use the optional keywords up, arc_angle and falloff_angle to specify a smaller arc.

The arc_angle keyword determines the size of the arc in degrees (from 0 to 360 degrees). A value smaller than 360 degrees results in an arc that abruptly vanishes. Since this does not look nice you can use the falloff_angle keyword to specify a region in which the rainbow will smoothly blend into the background making it vanish softly. The falloff angle has to be smaller or equal to the arc angle.

The up keyword determines were the zero angle position is. By changing this vector you can rotate the rainbow about its direction. You should note that the arc goes from -Arc_Angle/2 to +Arc_Angle/2. The soft regions go from -Arc_Angle/2 to -Falloff_Angle/2 and from +Falloff_Angle/2 to +Arc_Angle/2.

The following example generates a 120 degrees rainbow arc that has a falloff region of 30 degrees at both ends:

  rainbow {
    direction <0, 0, 1>
    angle 42.5
    width 5
    distance 1000
    jitter 0.01
    color_map { Rainbow_Color_Map }
    up <0, 1, 0>
    arc_angle 120
    falloff_angle 30

It is possible to use any number of rainbows and to combine them with other atmospheric effects.

More about "Fog"

More about "media"

More about "Media"

More about "Transformations"

More about "Pattern Modifiers"