RANIMATE(1) General Commands Manual RANIMATE(1)
ranimate - compute a RADIANCE animation
ranimate [ -s ][ -n ][ -e ][ -w ] ranfile
Ranimate is an executive program that reads the given ranfile and makes appropriate calls to rad(1), rpict(1), pinterp(1), and/or pfilt(1)
to render an animation. Variables in ranfile indicate input files, process servers (execution hosts), output directories and file names,
and various other controls and options.
Normally, commands are echoed to the standard output as they are executed. The -s option tells ranimate to do its work silently. The -n
option tells ranimate not to take any action (ie. not to actually execute any commands). The -e option tells ranimate to explicate all
variables used for the animation, including default values not specified in the input file, and print them on the standard output.
The -w option turns off warnings about multiply and misassigned variables.
Normally, ranimate will produce one animation frame for each view given in the specified view file. If an animation has ended or been
killed in an incomplete state, however, ranimate will attempt to pick up where the earlier process left off. If the process is still run-
ning, or was started on another machine, ranimate will report this information and exit.
Animation variable assignments appear one per line in ranfile. The name of the variable is followed by an equals sign ('=') and its
value(s). The end of line may be escaped with a backslash (''), though it is not usually necessary since additional variable values may
be given in multiple assignments. Variables that should have only one value are given in upper case. Variables that may have multiple
values are given in lower case. Variables may be abbreviated by their first three letters, except for "host", which must have all four.
Comments in ranfile start with a pound sign ('#') and proceed to the end of line.
The animation variables, their interpretations and default values are given below.
DIRECTORY The name of the animation directory. All temporary files generated during the animation will be placed in this directory, which
will be created by ranimate if it does not exist. A file named "STATUS" will also be created there, and will contain current
information about the animation process. This variable has no default value, and its setting is required.
OCTREE The name of the octree file for a static scene walk-through animation. There is no default value for this variable, and any set-
ting will be ignored if the ANIMATE variable is also set (see below).
ANIMATE The scene generation command for a dynamic animation. This command, if given, will be executed with the frame number as the
final argument, and on its standard output it must produce the complete octree for that frame. Care must be taken that this com-
mand does not create any temporary files that might collide with same-named files created by other animation commands running in
parallel. Also, the command should produce no output to the standard error, unless there is a fatal condition. (I.e., switch
all warnings off; see the BUGS section, below.) There is no default animation command, and either this variable or the OCTREE
variable must be set.
VIEWFILE This variable names a file from which ranimate may extract the view for each frame in the animation. This file should contain
one valid view per frame, starting with frame 1 on line 1, regardless of the setting of the START variable. An exception is made
for a view file with only a single view, which is used for every frame of a dynamic scene animation. This variable is required,
and there is no default value.
START The initial frame number in this animation sequence. The minimum value is 1, and if a later starting frame is given, ranimate
assumes that the earlier frames are included in some other ranfile, which has been previously executed. (See the NEXTANIM vari-
able, below.) The default value is 1.
END The final frame number in this sequence. The minimum value is equal to the START frame, and the default value is computed from
the number of views in the given VIEWFILE.
EXPOSURE This variable tells ranimate how to adjust the exposure for each frame. As in pfilt, the exposure setting may be given either as
a multiplier or as a number of f-stop adjustments (eg. +2 or -1.5). Alternatively, a file name may be given, which ranimate will
interpret as having one exposure value per line per frame, beginning with frame 1 at line 1. (See also the VIEWFILE variable,
above.) There is no default value for this variable. If it is not given, an average level will be computed by pfilt for each
BASENAME The base output file name for the final frames. This string will be passed to the -o and -z options of rpict, along with appro-
priate suffixes, and thus should contain a printf(3) style integer field to distinguish one frame number from another. The final
frames will use this name with a ".hdr" suffix. The default value is the assigned DIRECTORY followed by "/frame%03d".
host A host to use for command execution. This variable may be assigned a host name, followed by an optional number of parallel pro-
cesses, followed by an optional directory (relative to the user's home directory on that machine), followed by an alternate user
name. Multiple host assignments may appear. It is not advisable to specify more than one process on a single-CPU host, as this
just tends to slow things down. The default value is "localhost", which starts a single process in the current directory of the
RIF This variable specifies a rad input file to use as a source of rendering options and other variable settings. If given, ranimate
will execute rad and create an options file to later pass to rpict or rtrace. Besides prepending the render variable, ranimate
will also extract default settings for the common variables: OCTREE, RESOLUTION, EXPOSURE and pfilt. Following the file name,
overriding variable settings may be given, which will be passed to rad on the command line. Settings with spaces in them should
be enclosed in quotes. The execution of rad will also update the contents of the octree, if necessary. There is no default
value for this variable.
DISKSPACE Specify the amount of disk space (in megabytes) available on the destination file system for temporary file storage. Ranimate
will coordinate its batch operations based on this amount of storage, assuming that there is either enough additional space for
all the final frames, or that the given TRANSFER command will move the finished frames to some other location (see below). The
default value is 100 megabytes.
ARCHIVE After each batch rendering is finished and checked for completeness, ranimate will execute the given command, passing the names
of all the original pictures and z-buffer files generated by rpict. (The command is executed in the destination directory, and
file names will be simple.) Normally, the archive command copies the original files to a tape device or somewhere that they can
be retrieved in the event of failure in the frame interpolation stages. After the archive command has successfully completed,
the original renderings are removed. There is no default value for this variable, meaning that the original unfiltered frames
will simply be removed. Note that the last one or two rendered frames may not be copied, archived or removed in case there is a
another sequence picking up where this one left off.
TRANSFER The command to transfer the completed animation frames. The shell changes to the destination directory and appends the names of
all the finished frames to this command before it is executed. Normally, the transfer command does something such as convert the
frames to another format and/or copy them to tape or some other destination device before removing them. The fieldcomb(1) script
may be used to conveniently combine fields into frames for field-based animations. If this variable is not given, the final
frames are left where they are. (See BASENAME, above.)
RSH The command to use instead of ssh(1) to execute commands remotely on another machine. The arguments and behavior of this program
must be identical to the UNIX ssh command, except that the -l option will always be used to specify an alternate user name rather
than the user@host convention. The -l option may or may not appear, but the -n option will always be used, and the expected
starting directory will be that of the remote user, just as with ssh.
NEXTANIM This variable specifies the next ranfile to use after this sequence is completed. This offers a convenient means to continue an
animation that requires different control options in different segments. It is important in this case to correctly set the START
and END variables in each ranfile so that the segments do not overlap frames.
This variable sets the multiplier of the original image size relative to the final size given by the RESOLUTION variable. This
determines the quality of anti-aliasing in the final frames. A value of 1 means no anti-aliasing, and a value of 3 produces very
good anti-aliasing. The default value is 2. (A fractional value may be used for previews, causing low resolution frames with
large, blocky pixels to be produced.)
This variable sets the number of frames to interpolate between each rendered frame in a static scene walk-through. Z-buffers for
each rendered frame will be generated by rpict, and pinterp will be called to perform the actual "tweening." This results in a
potentially large savings in rendering time, but should be used with caution since certain information may be lost or inaccurate,
such as specular highlights and reflections, and objects may even break apart if too few renderings are used to interpolate too
much motion. The default value for this variable is 0, meaning no interpolation. Interpolation is also switched off if the ANI-
MATE variable is specified.
MBLUR This variable specifies the fraction of a frame time that the shutter is simulated as being open for motion blur. A number of
samples may be given as a second argument, which controls the number of additional frames computed and averaged together by pin-
terp. If this number is less than 2, then bluring is performed by rpict only, resulting in greater noise than the combination of
rpict and pinterp used otherwise. (The default value for number of samples is 5.) The default fraction is 0, meaning no motion
blurring. This option does not currently work with the ANIMATE variable, since pinterp only works for static environments.
DBLUR This variable specifies the aperture diameter for depth-of-field blurring, in world units. A number of samples may be given as a
second argument, which controls the number of additional frames computed and averaged together by pinterp. If this number is
less than 2, then blurring is performed by rpict only, resulting in greater noise than the combination of rpict and pinterp used
otherwise. (The default value for number of samples is 5.) To simulate a particular camera's aperture, divide the focal length
of the lens by the f-number, then convert to the corresponding world coordinate units. For example, if you wish to simulate a
50mm lens at f/2.0 in a scene modeled in meters, then you divide 50mm by 2.0 to get 25mm, which corresponds to an effective aper-
ture of 0.025 meters. The default aperture is 0, meaning no depth-of-field blurring. This option does not currently work with
the ANIMATE variable, since pinterp only works for static environments.
RTRACE This boolean variable tells ranimate whether or not to employ rtrace during frame interpolation using the -fr option to pinterp.
If set to True, then the same rendering options and static octree are passed to rtrace as are normally used by rpict. The
default value is False. Note that this variable only applies to static environment walk-throughs (i.e., no ANIMATE command).
This variable specifies the desired final picture resolution. If only a single number is given, this value will be used for both
the horizontal and vertical picture dimensions. If two numbers are given, the first is the horizontal resolution and the second
is the vertical resolution. If three numbers are given, the third is taken as the pixel aspect ratio for the final picture (a
real value). If the pixel aspect ratio is zero, the exact dimensions given will be those produced. Otherwise, they will be used
as a frame in which the final image must fit. The default value for this variable is 640.
render This variable may be used to specify additional options to rpict or rtrace. These options will appear after the options set
automatically by rad, and thus will override the default values.
pinterp This variable may be used to specify additional options to pinterp, which is used to interpolate frames for a static scene walk-
through. (See the pinterp man page, and the INTERPOLATE variable.) Do not use this variable to set the pinterp -fr option, but
use the RTRACE setting instead.
pfilt This variable may be used to specify additional options to pfilt. If this variable is given in the ranfile, then pfilt will
always be used. (Normally, pfilt is called only if pinterp is not needed or automatic exposure is required.) See the pfilt man-
ual page for details.
A minimal input file for ranimate might look like this:
# The rad input file for our static scene:
# The spool directory:
# The view file containing one view per frame:
# The amount of temporary disk space available:
DISKSPACE= 50 # megabytes
Note that most of the variables are not set in this file. If we only want to see what default values ranimate would use without actually
executing anything, we can invoke it thus:
ranimate -n -e sample.ran
This will print the variables we have given as well as default values ranimate has assigned for us. Also, we will see the list of commands
that ranimate would have executed had the -n option not been present.
Usually, we execute ranimate in the background, redirecting the standard output and standard error to a file:
ranimate sample.ran >& sample.err &
If we decide that the default values ranimate has chosen for our variables are not all appropriate, we can add some more assignments to the
host= rays 3 ~greg/obj/tutor ray # execute as ray on multi-host "rays"
host= thishost # execute one copy on this host also
INTERP= 3 # render every fourth frame
RES= 1024 # shoot for 1024x resolution
MBLUR= .25 # apply camera motion blur
EXP= anim1.exp # adjust exposure according to file
pfilt= -r .9 # use Gaussian filtering
ARCHIVE= tar cf /dev/nrtape # save original renderings to tape
Note the use of abbreviation for variable names.
$(DIRECTORY)/STATUS animation status file $(DIRECTORY)/* other temporary files $(BASENAME).hdr final animation frames
Due to the difficulty of controlling processes on multiple execution hosts, the -n option of ranimate is not useful in the same way as rad
for generating a script of executable commands to render the sequence. It may give an idea of the sequence of events, but certain tempo-
rary files and so forth will not be in the correct state if the user attempts to create a separate batch script.
If multiple processors are available on a given host and the RTRACE variable is set to True, then the -PP option of rtrace should be
employed, but it is not. There is no easy way around this problem, but it has only minor consequences in most cases. (The -PP option is
used for rpict, however.)
The current implementation of the remote shell does not return the exit status of the remote process, which makes it difficult to determine
for sure if there has been a serious error or not. Because of this, ranimate normally turns off warnings on all rendering processes, and
takes any output to standard error from a remote command as a sign that a fatal error has occurred. (This also precludes the use of the -t
option to report rendering progress.) If the error was caused by a process server going down, the server is removed from the active list
and frame recovery takes place. Otherwise, ranimate quits at that point in the animation.
The current execution environment, in particular the RAYPATH variable, will not be passed during remote command execution, so it is neces-
sary to set whatever variables are important in the remote startup script (e.g., ".cshrc" for the C-shell). This requirement may be cir-
cumvented by substituting the on(1) command for ssh(1) using the RSH control variable, or by writing a custom remote execution script.
If a different remote user name is used, ranimate first attempts to change to the original user's directory with a command of the form cd
uname . This works under csh(1), but may fail under other shells such as sh(1).
If multiple hosts with different floating point formats are used, pinterp will fail because the Z-buffer files will be inconsistent.
(Recall that pinterp is called if INTERPOLATE > 0 and/or MBLUR is assigned.) Since most modern machines use IEEE floating point, this is
not usually a problem, but it is something to keep in mind.
fieldcomb(1), pfilt(1), pinterp(1), pmblur(1), rad(1), ran2tiff(1), ranimove(1), rpict(1), ssh(1), rtrace(1)