Please note: the images for these animations are NOT part of the main program download. They must be purchased separately.

Once the central feature of Virtual Belfry, the photographic animation of bells is now merely one option among several for the main window of the program. The bells can be raised and lowered by the click of a mouse (or the dab of a finger on a touchscreen device), but once they're ringing the realism has to be seen to be fully appreciated. The small bells swing more quickly than the big bells and rise higher when they're ringing rounds. Changes of pace while hunting and dodging are achieved as you would expect - by checking a rise, or allowing a bell to rise further.

This realism is achieved by real-time calculations of each bell's position, speed and acceleration, with a table of forces to apply at various stages during each swing to make the bell move in such a way that it ends up striking on time and with the right amount of momentum to take it to the correct height ready for the next blow. All Virtual Belfry's ringing is calculated this way, even if the Bells window is not displayed.

The Bells window would be useful for demonstrations and for showing new ringers how bells behave during normal ringing. It is also enjoyable to look at while listening at home to your favourite touch (especially full-screen).

Three sets of bells from Australia have been captured photographically for Virtual Belfry, as shown below.

St. David's Cathedral, Hobart (after augmentation)

These images were taken following the augmentation (from 8 to 10+2) in 2005.

St. David's Cathedral, Hobart (after augmentation to 10+2)

While the actual bells are tuned as a 21cwt ten in E (with 3# and 7# allowing the original eight to be retained as a light octave), in Virtual Belfry the default tuning is as a twelve (the real tuning is also provided as another tower option in the program).

The images were captured using digital video at 30 frames per second, with the camera and lighting mounted on a special gantry erected about six metres above the bells. As with all the images, extensive post-processing was required to produce the entirely convincing result that you see.

These images are available for purchase and will be made available by download. An evaluation version can be downloaded and installed to try them prior to purchase.

St. Paul's, Maryborough, Queensland

In March 2012 I took the project interstate and captured images of the nine bells at St. Paul's church in Maryborough, Queensland.

St. Paul's, Maryborough, Queensland (prior to restoration)

The bells were tuned as a 21cwt octave in E, with a sharp 5th providing a light six. Three weeks after the images were taken, the bells were removed from the tower, returned to the foundry (Whitechapel), retuned, and given new fittings. They are now 18cwt in E flat. Virtual Belfry therefore provides a unique image of these fine old bells in their original condition. Both old and new tuning are available in the program (as delivered, no need to purchase the images for this).

Digital video was used again. A sheet was removed from the roof to give access to the ideal location for the camera and lights.

These images are available for purchase and will be made available by download. An evaluation version can be downloaded and installed to try them prior to purchase.

St. David's Cathedral, Hobart (original eight bells)

The first set of images to be completed was of the original eight bells at St. David's, Hobart (prior to augmentation).

St. David's Cathedral, Hobart (original 8, 15cwt in F sharp)

For various reasons including the impossibility of adequately lighting the scene and the expense and state of development of digital video at the time, the decision was made to capture the images using still photography and flash (itself far from a trivial undertaking). At the time this work was done, RAM limitations on most PCs would have made a totally smooth animation at 30 frames per second challenging, so a decision was made to aim for approximately 20 frames per second. As a result the animation is not as smooth as it is for the other two tower options.

These images are provided free if you purchase one of the other two sets.