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VISTA - Scalable Toolkits Volume Renderer

This is the last release; all development has stopped.

VISTA is a multithreaded, platform-independent, scalable and robust volume renderer. It can perform volume rendering of datasets, even those that exceed available memory (using out-of-core paging). VISTA also interfaces with Mesh Viewer for generating transfer functions, and custom cameras, which can be used to view (render) a volume from different positions. This makes it possible for VISTA to generate dataset walkthroughs.


  • Render volumes of any size using out-of-core paging. (VISTA does direct-volume rendering using raycasting)
  • Custom Transfer Function Support
  • VISTA can be linked as library
  • VISTA could be run as a server and used along with Mesh Viewer
  • Output zbuffer for compositing
  • Create walkthrough around data segments
  • Large Image resolutions - any resolution possible

Render Options

  • You can specify multiple camera views with --persp, --front, --left, --right, --top, --back, --bottom
  • The options are additive, so if you put all the above options on the same command line, you will get seven images.
  • If you don't specify a camera, the default camera is perspective (--persp).
  • You can also do --spinx, --spiny, or --spinz to get a sequence of images rotating around the axes.
  • You can change the resolution with -x width -y height options. Default resolution is 320x240


Supported platforms

  • Unix
  • Linux
  • AIX
  • SGI
  • Sun-Solaris
  • Windows-Cygwin

Supported File Formats

Type File Extensions
Input raw, volb, volc (click for format details), mpr
Output ppm, png, zbuf, hdr (click for format details)


  • What is volume rendering?
  • Is VISTA an interactive tool?
    • No. Use Mesh Viewer or Volume Rover for interactive use.
  • Can VISTA do splatting?
    • Unfortunately, no.
  • Can VISTA do filtering?
    • Yes, although its capacities in that area are limited

Bug Reporting

Please email comments to Amit Chourasia, SDSC Visualization Services Group Lead.

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