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Manta Open Source Interactive Ray Tracer

Welcome to the Manta-wiki. Manta is a highly portable interactive ray tracing environment designed to be used on both workstations, clusters, and super computers and is distributed under the MIT license. Manta was initially created at the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute at the University of Utah and is now used by a larger community including academic research groups and companies. This wiki is a resource for both users and developers to describe usage, features, and design of the ray tracer.

For more information about the architecture of Manta please see this page.

Visit the build instructions page and then see instructions for getting started with Manta in a CMake project. License and copyright information.

Instructions for using Manta on a cluster is available at Distributed_Manta.

Additional questions may be sent to the user community mailing list: manta @ sci utah edu. You can subscribe by sending "subscribe manta" to majordomo @ sci utah edu. Mailing list archives back to 2005 are now online!

Source Code

You can stay informed of code changes by joining the manta-commits email list by emailing with "subscribe manta-commits" in the body of the email.

Checking out

Manta's source code is hosted in a Subversion repository at To check out the code, you must first install Subversion and then checkout the code using:

svn checkout --username anonymous Manta


Manta is built using CMake, a cross platform compilation utility. After installing CMake and having checked out Manta, create a build directory inside of the Manta directory (e.g. build). From there, run:

ccmake ../

which will bring up the CMake configuration tool. Simply configure any options that need to be set (most of the defaults are suitable), and finally ask CCMake to generate Makefiles. From there, you can simply use a standard make command. For more detailed information about the build process, see this page.


After Manta is built, the bin directory will contain a standalone manta executable. On Unix based systems (including Mac OS X), if you have X running you can simply run bin/manta from inside your build directory and get a nice red sphere on a checkerboard. On windows there is currently no interactive viewer.

There are two ways to run Manta, from the simple command line interface bin/manta or through a python extension. Instructions for loading a triangle mesh using trianglesceneviewer.


Manta is an open source research project, and we welcome useful feature additions, bug fixes and performance improvements. If you'd like to contribute to Manta, see the Contributing page for more info. There a number of things to be done on the Wishlist.


Notes on the repository trunk.

Screen Shots

Wiki-cockpit-cropped.png Wiki-ambient-cockpit0.png

More screen shots.


Manta scenes are dynamically loaded modules which contain code for configuring the renderer's scene graph. Each scene accepts specific command line arguments. (Additional scenes, beyond those listed below appear in the repository.)

  • Iso-surface rendering: octisovol
  • Cornell Box: bin/manta -scene ../scenes/cornell_box.rtml (you'll need to increase MANTA_T_EPSILON using cmake)
  • Meshes: trianglesceneviewer

Benchmark tools


For help, you can send email to the "manta" mailing list at "" (manta@sci...).


J. Bigler, A. Stephens and S. G. Parker Design for Parallel Interactive Ray Tracing Systems Proceedings of the IEEE Symposium on Interactive Ray Tracing, 2006, (to appear) (pdf) (tech report)

A. Stephens, S. Boulos, J. Bigler, I. Wald, and S. G. Parker An Application of Scalable Massive Model Interaction using Shared Memory Systems Proceedings of the Eurographics Symposium on Parallel Graphics and Visualization, 2006, (to appear) (pdf)

Manta in VTK

T. Ize, C. Brownlee, C.D. Hansen. Real-Time Ray Tracer for Visualizing Massive Models on a Cluster, In Proceedings of the 2011 Eurographics Symposium on Parallel Graphics and Visualization, 2011. (pdf)

Conference Courses

D. Kasik, D. Manocha, A. Stephens. B. Bruderlin, P. Slusallek, E. Gobbetti, W. Correa, I. Quilez Tutorial 2: Real-time Interactive Massive Model Visualization. Eurographics 2006. Vienna.

P. Shirley, P. Slusallek, I. Wald, W. Mark, G. Stoll, D. Manocha, A. Stephens  Course 4: State of the Art in Interactive Ray Tracing. SIGGRAPH 2006. Boston. (web site)