CSIL Graphics Software

This page is just a collection of getting-started info about the software that is available for use in CMPT 361/461/466. If you find errors or want to recommend changes, please email torsten AT cs DOT sfu DOT ca. If you find good links related to the software or the course topics, it would be better for you to share them with the class via the class mailing list.

Quick Links



An assortment of rendering software and support tools are available. We will be working mainly on the Linux platform. It is the students' responsibility to learn how to use the software. Note that you don't have to use ALL of this software; you have a choice of which modeling and rendering software to use.

Here are some links to get you started.

Software Description Resources
Maya Professional modeling, rendering and animation suite. This one is popular for video game character animation.
Houdini Another professional modeling package. We will be using the free Apprentice Edition, which embeds watermarks in its images and is not compatible with the commercial version.
AL Animation Language for use with RenderMan and BMRT.
RenderMan (PRman) The RenderMan rendering and animation suite. This is a very popular tool for movie animation, produced by Pixar. NOTE: RenderMan is not yet operational in the CSIL lab; there was some trouble setting up the license. We hope to have this resolved by the end of the week. For now, use BMRT as a substitute.
Blue Moon Rendering Tools (BMRT) A freeware alternative to RenderMan.
  • Documentation.
  • You can download your own copy for Linux or NT here. Remark: This seems to have disappeared from the face of the net. If you know where to find it, please let me know. Another possibility is to use Pixie.
POVray The Persistence of Vision raytracer.
Radiance A raytracer intended for illumination previews. The manual and tutorials are available at the Radiance home page.
Cinelerra Linux video editor modeled after Adobe Premiere.
vtk A Visualization Toolkit. Exhaustive documentation is available at the vtk home page.
KDevelop A GUI program development suite like MS Visual Studio. Screenshots, tutorials and the manual are available online at the KDevelop home page. NOTE: In order to start KDevelop you have to adjust your home directory: Use
% setenv HOME /home/${USER}
% kdevelop3
g++ GNU C++ compiler. Type 'man gcc' when logged in to Linux.
DDD Graphical debugger; frontend for gdb. Type 'man ddd' when logged in to Linux.
There is also an HTML manual here.
glui GLUI User Interface Library Please see this URL for more information.


Most of the software is set up so that you should be able to just run it from anywhere. But in case you need to look at the documentation or otherwise poke around, here are the installed locations for the CSIL lab. KDevelop, g++ and DDD are not listed because they are included standard with Linux.

Software Paths
Maya Base location is /usr/local/pkg/maya/maya8.5/. There is some HTML documentation under /usr/autodesk/maya8.5/docs/Maya8.5/en_US.
Houdini Base location is /usr/local/pkg/Houdini/Houdini_v8.2/. Documentation should be available from inside the program as online help. Furthermore there is an official forum.
AL Base location is /usr/local/pkg/AL/AL5.2a/. The README contains instructions for setting your environment variables.
RenderMan Base location is /usr/local/pkg/pixar/. prman lives under the prman-11.01/ subdirectory and RAT is in rat-5.5/. There is HTML documentation under docs-5.5/.
BMRT Base location is /usr/local/pkg/BlueMoon/BMRT2.6/. You will need to know this to set up your environment variables if you wish to use BMRT with AL. You will likely also have to add /usr/local/pkg/BlueMoon/BMRT2.6/bin to your path.
POVray The povray executables are in /usr/local/bin/ and the supplementary includes and examples are in /usr/local/share/povray-3.5/. The site configuration should already be set up so that it finds everything automatically.
Radiance The Radiance executables are in /usr/local/bin/. Everything should just work.
Cinelerra Base location is /usr/local/pkg/Cinelerra/.
VTK We have currently version 5.0.3 installed.
You can find source code and examples in /usr/local/pkg/vtk/VTK-5.0.3
The data files is in /usr/local/pkg/vtk/VTKData-release-5-0-3
The HTML documentation is in /usr/local/pkg/vtk/VTKdoc-5.0.3
In addition, cmake is upgraded to v2.4 which is in /usr/local/bin/ccmake and /usr/local/bin/cmake
GLUI We have currently version 2.35 installed. You can find it at /usr/include/glui.h and /usr/lib/libglui.a

CSIL-specific notes

In order to access the Web from the CSIL, you will have to set up your favorite web browser to use an HTTP proxy. The proxy server is proxy.sfu.ca port 8080. You will have to enter your ACS (CSIL) username and password to get through the proxy.


Houdini lives in /usr/local/pkg/Houdini/Houdini_v8.2/ on the CSIL lab graphics workstations. In order to run Houdini, you first have to set up the Houdini working environment:

% cd /usr/local/pkg/Houdini/Houdini_v8.2
% source houdini_setup % houdini


AL is installed under /usr/local/pkg/AL/AL5.2a, but there are symlinks to it from other locations that should be in your path. You should be able to run it normally after making these changes to your environment:

setenv ALHOME /usr/local
setenv XUSERFILESEARCHPATH $ALHOME/lib/app-defaults/%N

If you want to use BMRT for rendering, you will also need to add the below to your environment. Modify appropriately if you want to use RenderMan instead.

setenv SHADERS /usr/local/pkg/BlueMoon/BMRT2.6/shaders
setenv PATH /usr/local/pkg/BlueMoon/BMRT2.6/bin/:${PATH}

IMPORTANT: AL's ox interpreter program crashes if you run it on the local machine, and the Ogre module is unstable and can totally freeze the machine . We are looking into the problem, but for now you can run ox remotely in lite mode and use BMRT or RenderMan for (slow) previewing.

Pick another graphics area machine that you are not logged into, ssh to that machine and run ox from there. For example, if you are logged into cyan and you decide to use emerald as the remote machine:

% xhost + emerald.csil.sfu.ca
% ssh emerald
% setenv DISPLAY cyan.csil.sfu.ca:0.0
% ox -m lite

(This example assumes you have added the AL environment setup stuff to your login script.)

See the AL tutorials for examples of how to render from ox.
DO NOT invoke the Ogre module as it may crash your machine!

Last modified: September 5, 2007
Created by Soleil Lapierre
Maintained by
Torsten Möller / torsten AT cs DOT sfu DOT ca