Recent exploration into PostGIS 3D tools has reminded me of my love of renderers. First, there’s PovRay. PovRay is and always will be my first love. I’ve done so many fun things with it.
In short, PovRay is a mathematicians renderer– mathematical primitives, advanced ray tracing tools, and a C-like control language make for an abstract but powerful environment. I like to use it with geographic data, arranged in a planar coordinate system with an orthogonal camera, boom– map. Check out my povray blog posts to see some of the fun I have had there:
Sadly, the project has been pretty quiet of late (but never goes away, which is nice). But there are other fun renderer kicking around. For one, there’s the Physically Based Renderer. This isn’t just an open source 3D renderer, but a book that teaches you about writing a physically-based renderer, which is really cool. So far, I haven’t ponied up the $70, nay $61 for the book at Amazon, but one day I will. What I like about PBRT, it can render arbitrary spectral bands, making it a great remote sensing simulation tool (PovRay can be patched to do this too).
Finally, a renderer that has caught my attention is Mitsuba, which is inspired by PBRT.