Sideband #44: CG Theatre

Sideband ElectrodeBack on my first Sideband post, I wrote that, “Sideband posts are miscellaneous thoughts that accompany the main thread of posts. Think of them as small paths that meander off the main road. Some branch off, go a short ways and die after a short while. Others are scenic trails that follow along the main road.”

They never quite achieved that vision, so this year one goal is getting Sidebands back on track with that original “mission statement.”

And I’m going to start with fun topic: computer-generated 3D images!


The whole project was about getting this one shot!

The topic is a doubly perfect Sideband. Firstly, it introduces an ongoing topic that is definitely a detour from the usual stews and chili served here. (Admittedly not a huge detour, but not a topic I had ever thought to write about. For one thing, my skill set here is rudimentary at best.)

Secondly, the Sideband image, that odd gold electrode thing in the image that leads most SB posts… That’s a computer-generated image I created several years ago using the very technology I’m going to write about.

I’ll get to that in more detail down the road. For this introduction I’m just going to take you on a tour of the theatre I “built” using POV-Ray, a (free!) ray-tracing program.  I built this theatre to simulate a time in high school I performed the “RGB” experiment described in the Color My World post yesterday. I’ll also try to cover a few details I didn’t have room for yesterday.

As I mentioned above, I’m not very good at this. If you visit the POV-Ray site, you’ll see some astonishing work that makes mine look like Logo toys. I dabble and have a ton of fun (you could, too), but I’m strictly a newbie at this.

And on that note, without further ado, I give you the Wyrd Smythe International Fine Arts Theatre and Bait Shop. [Click any photo for a big’n.]


The theatre from above and to the south-west. The dome is 150 feet high, making the theatre a football field across. You see the south and west entrances and the stage (the square part in back). The area is lit with four giant lights. Currently the area surrounding the building is grass.


Standing on the walkway west of the theatre. You see the west entrance and the stage to the left. Note the “back stage door” (the red brick affair).


Standing just outside the back stage door. (I haven’t actually made a door, yet, so you can look through the open doorway into the theatre. If you look very closely, you might see some stuff apparently going on on stage!)


A close look at the west entrance (the east and south are the same). Later I’ll tell you how much goes into making just those railings! For now I’ll just mention that each consists of 10 separate objects. The upside is that you only have to design one. Then you can replicate that design where needed.


High up in the dome looking down at the stage. You see two of the house lights (one close, one far), as well as come “work” lights down on the floor by the pillars (one’s hidden behind the left one). Couple “people” on stage, too!


Looking across the hall to the stage from the south entrance. The stage is about 300 feet away. Seems to be some sort of color demo on stage…


Standing up close to the stage (on the house left side). The back stage entrance is at the far back. You can see a ladder bolted to the wall. It leads up into the “fly gallery,” a tall space above the stage.


Now we’re standing on stage (upstage left and actually off-stage). We’re looking out into the house. You can see the west entrance and the back stage door area. (I wonder what that red filter on a stand is for…)


Same position, but looking up into the fly gallery. You see all the I-beams used for suspending “battens” (pipes used for hanging lights, curtains and various stage pieces). Looks like that red filter has a green and blue friend.


Up in “the flies” looking down at the “ants” center stage.


A close shot of one of the battens and the lights hanging from it. In the foreground, you see the cable that suspends the batten.


Here’s the “glamor shot” that closely resembles what I saw 40-some years ago in that dark theatre. It was a jaw-dropping sight to see even expecting it!


In the POV-Ray posts ahead, I’ll show you how this light is created. For now I’ll just say it consists of 15 visible geometric forms (plus one that isn’t).

I'll also show you how these "bar stools" are constructed. In fact, I'll probably start with these, since they're fairly simple.

I’ll also show you how these “bar stools” are constructed. In fact, I’ll probably start with these, since they’re fairly simple. (I do like how they turned out.)

And finally, I'm going to teach you how to use an abacus using a CG abacus I created!

And finally, I’m going to teach you how to use an abacus using a CG abacus I created! I’ll include a photo of my real one for comparison (I got close!).

I hope you enjoyed the tour and will join me again when I explore the world of 3D ray-tracing!  (I’ll cover those last color topics in another post soon!)

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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