Archive for October 11th, 2010

Some more on fractal movies

I’ve moved the animation that I had saved to a faster computer, but it refused to render, it wasn’t rendering even the very first frame. Time to think a little why it was happening. Maybe some folder permission error, not really a software bug.

In Mandelbulb 3D, in the animation window, you have the option to send back the saved keyframes to the main window (useless feature? Not at all!), so this is what I did. Sent them back, re-rendered each and send them back to the animation timeline, and saved this animation under a new name and in a different folder just to be sure. And it worked.

It’s currently rendering right now with a couple more frames added towards the end of the previous version (but I’ve reduced the number of frames between keyframes from 50 to 25 to see what happens, therefore the movie should be shorter this time) and 150 frames out of a total of 250 are already finished in 18 minutes. Quite an improvement. I think that I can even raise the size of the animations to some sort of “semi-HD” quality. I’ll have to check first if these fractals used here are also faster than others, sometimes when adding a Julia calculation or a “Cutting” things get a bit slower. Anyway, this is much much faster than rendering it in the other computer, that has half of the memory of this one, but the processor is a Celeron while in this other one it’s a quadcore… it’s not RAM that makes the difference here, but the processor. And maybe the video card (I have a Radeon something in the faster computer), but I’m not sure as it doesn’t really help in other softwares like Ultra Fractal to have a faster video card, these cards are more useful with games and… well, 3D processing. Definitely fractals aren’t for slow computers.

One thing that I’ve noticed though even in the preview animation window is that for some reason (or maybe it’s not really happening) is that the keyframes I had already used and all the frames inbetween these are rendered a bit faster than the new added keyframes. Sometimes deeper zooms render a bit slower too, this might be what’s happening as it’s a little deeper in these new frames.

Another thing I’ve noticed that seems to happen at least in this image is that in areas that have a certain depth of field, showing parts of the “sky” (or of a background image), the render gets much slower. The more sky/background, the slower it gets. If the image is filled with just the fractal parts, it goes much faster. The elements that are closer to the camera for example, are rendered much faster in an image that has “sky” parts even though they look much more complex than the plain blue sky behind them. I guess it’s due to the 3D, it has to calculate the distances from for example the border of the fractal to the “horizon” or the “sky”, which is quite far from the camera (I guess this calculation is limited by the iterations as well, it tells the software where the “sky” – the end of the image – is). The difference is brutal. Frames with about 30-40% of “sky” areas can take up to 20 mins to be rendered, maybe more (just one frame!), while others with minimal open areas are rendered in 40 seconds. So a good tip for a fractal animation using Mandelbrot 3D is… avoid these open areas, focus on the fractal details. Which is the most interesting part anyway.

Update: it is really getting slower. Last frames past the #200 are taking 7 mins to be rendered and it’s getting considerably slower from there. Maybe it’s really the zoom, the frame #207 for example has a zoom of 1599946.7something while the very first one is 1x I think or near that. This combined with the lights, shading, etc. make it go slower. And I just found that I’m using the Julia mode and the cutting in this one. Also it seems that the more colours an image have, the more complicated it gets to be rendered. Images that are too colourful like the “Beatle Sugar Cube” below seem to be slower because of the different colours. But sometimes the images need to be that vivid. OK if you like a plain pink shade all over your image, I don’t.

I will try to make some more tests and for example disable the cutting when/if it won’t make a difference in certain keyframes. I think that it works for me more like a guideline if I want to find a Mandelbrot shape inside that mess, for example, or to reveal certain areas of “solid” fractals to see if they have something interesting inside. I’m not sure if I can really reach these internal areas just by zooming in without cutting them first, probably I can’t.

I have read that the common timeframe people spend rendering these animations are “weeks”, so I guess I’m just starting… if I want to add a soundtrack for example, it wouldn’t work if the animation is too short. At 24 frames per second, 2 of these keyframes with the settings I’m using for this new test (25 frames inbetween keyframes) will give me a 2 seconds animation. Do the math.

Related Images:

A movie

My first attempt on making a fractal animation. Weird is that I have the Ultra Fractal animation edition since it was released but never ever tried to make a single animation with it. Had to start with Mandelbulb 3D, go figure.

It’s buggy, annoying, slow, but it’s nice. Unlike some softwares that build the movies themselves, this one just gives you the frames, then you must do the movie assembling and editing job elsewhere. Some of these free slideshow softwares or these that come with cameras or DVD burners like some ULead products (now owned by Corel?) can’t do it properly. I did some nice “movies” with images and transitions, but to render a movie with no intervals between frames, they don’t work. I had to try Picasa, and it did a very good job.

With some version of the software (the penultimate) I saw that I could render all the frames in JPG and PNG but for some reason the latest version of Mandelbulb 3D just let me render in BMP again. It wouldn’t be a problem if it wasn’t for the size of each frame – 900K.

One of the major problems I see in Mandelbulb 3D is that if you want to give up on some render/fractal or some animation or even restart from scratch, you just can’t. You must close the program and start all over again, the “reset locations and zoom” for example doesn’t clean the formula tabs, neither there’s a way to clean the animation and restart from scratch. I had a paused animation, quit it closing the animation window without saving (this usually makes you lose any work in any software…) and reopened Mandelbulb 3D and started to make a new fractal and a new animation, but for some reason the old paused animation was still there hanging in the animation window even though it wasn’t saved and I couldn’t even load a frame or use the navigator. I had to force the software to be closed using a Ctrl-Alt-Del, and it was finally cleared. It’s a very promising software, but very very buggy.

Here’s the animation. Still short and not the best, but it’s just a test. It was originally rendered in 640 x 480, 24 frames/second. Took me about 3 hours. I’ll move the files to a faster computer and try to add a few more things, it ends not where exactly I wanted it to be.

Related Images: