Megahedron—A 3D Graphics Environment

Megahedron is a modeler and 3D graphics engine that uses an interpreted language similar to POV-Ray's scene description language.
Summary

Overall I found the feature set of Megahedron to be quite extensive. The documentation blows away anything else I've seen for a tool of this nature. I'm constantly looking for tools which can easily be picked up by a novice user. Megahedron certainly falls into this category simply on the strength of the documentation and sample programs. It is, however, not perfect. See Sidebars 1 and 2 for lists of Megahedron' pros and cons.

Megahedron Pros

Megahedron Cons

At one point the “Introduction to 3D Coordinates” says it is not necessary to know algebra or trigonometry to use Megahedron. Possibly true, but without either what you can do with Megahedron will be severely limited. Face it, knowing how to place objects in 3D requires not just an understanding of geometry, but trigonometry as well.

One area I didn't cover in this review is the rendering engine. I didn' do many full renders due to time constraints on my system. (I had other renderings running and needed to keep a little system time for other work.) If you get a chance to try Megahedron and can compare it with BMRT and/or POV-Ray (or any other renderers that run on Linux) feel free to write it up and pass it on to me. Chances are good I'll include it in a future “Graphics Muse” column in Linux Gazette.

Despite the problems mentioned, I think Megahedron would be a good way for new users to get started with 3D images. Experienced users might find the animation capabilities quite useful as well, although the animations might not be as impressive with the builtin renderer. It's difficult to say without more detailed images that make full use of the shading language. The documentation is quite extensive and well written and the licensing is user friendly. I would recommend this package to anyone interested in learning more about 3D graphics.

Michael J. Hammel is an X Windows and applications software engineer for EMASS in Denver, CO. He is the author of the “Graphics Muse” column in the Linux Gazette, keeper of the Linux Graphics Mini-HOWTO and co-author of The Unix Web Server Book from Ventana. His interests outside of computers include 5K/10K races, Thai food and gardening. He suggests if you have any serious interest in finding out more about him, you visit his home pages at http://www.csn.net/~mjhammel. He can be reached via e-mail at mjhammel@csn.net.

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