Chris Kulla has released his latest version of Sunflow, the open source, platform independent (thanks to Java), photo-realistic rendering system.
There are several major updates including the following:
- An updated Blender exporter.
- An improved algorithm for KDTree construction (version is further enhanced by the use of a radix sort).
- Optimized the core raytracing routines and traversal codes: some scenes render up to 2x faster.
- Multithreaded progressive rendering.
- A new global illumination algorithm with many controls to trade off bias vs. speed. When I asked Chris about if this was replacing other GI methods in Sunflow he said:
The new algorithm is just a new option, since Sunflow has a modular design I can offer lots of different methods to calculate GI.
- New user interface.
- Irradiance caching can now be used without photons.
- Texture file paths are now scene file relative. You may also specify arbitrary search paths.
- Full support of procedural scenes.
- The site also now has a forum to post Sunflow specific questions.
He has also uploaded a new version of the data files. which contain examples of new features in this release, including a demo of Sunflow as a real-time raytracer.
And why does Chris put so much into the development of Sunflow?
I develop Sunflow for fun =) There aren't too many open source renderers that give you easy programability at all levels like Sunflow does.
Remember, Sunflow is written in Java so it will require Sun's JRE or JDK. I highly recommend the JDK because it allows the use of the -server option in the command line. The really nice thing is that if you are using a 64-bit JRE/JDK version then Sunflow will be 64-bit!
Also, be sure to check out scorpius's thread about getting a Windows XP icon made for Sunflow. This is a must for me since I just want to click things to make them work. I posted a comprehensive instruction set that got me up and running on this thread, so I hope this helps.