Posts Tagged Mandelbrot

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.

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Mind-Boggling Fractals

While doing the fractal softwares tests I had the opportunity to try one software that was in my list of “I want to try this someday”, Mind-Boggling Fractals. I always liked its colourful images, but never could find even a demo of the software.

Apparently, the author gave up on its development and it is now available for free in that list of fractal softwares. It used to be shareware, and a very expensive one if I can remember, considering what it did. Maybe because you now can replicate most if not all of its effects with some colouring algorithms in UltraFractal (pwc.ucl and kcc3.ucl in UF 4 which is what I use) it was no longer interesting for it to be kept as a separate software.

Anyway, I tried it and I didn’t go too far, I just did 2 images (a relatively deep zoom in a simple Mandelbrot looking for a square midget) and gave up. I think with these 2 colouring methods of UF I can make much more interesting images in that style, if needed. Here are my attempts:

Mind-Boggling Midget


Mind-Boggling Midget

MB Midget 02

It might make some interesting images, but with UltraFractal I have way more options, as in different formulas. With this specific software, I will be limited to a dozen or so kinds of fractals.

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The chosen ones, part V

From Gallery 11, “Lightning”:

This one seems quite a simple image (it is!) but it was really important to me maybe for non-aesthetical reasons. This image called the attention of a band named Disgruntled Postal Workers, and they’ve asked me to use it in their CD called “Wicked”. It was the first time I was asked to have an image used on someone else’s work, and also… it was the first time I made some (really small) money off my work.

I had to follow the rules and ask for a fee, but at the same time, I couldn’t ask them “too much”, mostly when I thought that it was such a simple image and more, made with a freeware software. Sure, it’s my artwork, but it could and can be easily reproduced by nearly anyone that knows a bit about fractals and Fractint. But this is what they liked, and they were not based in reviews or comments in fractal sites or art communities (here goes my anti-Deviant rant again). They just found the fractal image and thought it would fit with their work. And respectfully – the most important part of it all – they asked me for a licensing fee. And how much is too much in this case? I had no idea. I bought a book that helped me a lot to learn about how the licensing process of artwork goes, and it really helped me to decide how much to ask. It’s called “Graphic Artists Guild Handbook: Pricing & Ethical Guidelines“, and it covers all the aspects of licensing and fees and copyright issues, it helped me a lot, really (I bought the 10th edition if I’m not wrong). If they were signed to a big label, of course I could have made a lot more, but as they were an independent band, and as an amateur musician myself, I know how hard can it be to get money to help make your work to be finished and released to the public so if I asked them more than they could afford neither me nor them would be happy.

The whole process ran as smoothly as possible – maybe because there was no involvment of the big guys of record labels or lawyers or anything like that. It was just a few e-mails exchanged between me and Scott (R.I.P.!), the singer. I sent them a “contract” (written with the help of the book) just with the basics only to be sure that we wouldn’t have any problems in the future (what if they exploded and become a new U2 or something?), and that’s it. After some time I got a package with the CD already finished, and there it was, my image, my name in the credits, in a rock’n’roll CD. It’s things like that that make you keep going. Oh yes and the CD was nice as well. It sounded like a mix of Rush and Live and with some influences of grunge and tidbits of “funk metal” or whatever it’s called. After Scott’s death, they have reformed with a new name, The Red Desert,  sometimes I still go there and see what they are doing.

And BTW, the fee was really small. I even made some “extras” for free, like images that could be used as wallpapers, postcards or some promotional stuff. It doesn’t hurt to do things legally, it’s better than use something off the internet without giving the artist any credits. Play nice.

PS.: for those wondering how I could use a GIF image, with 256 colours, in a professional work – it was imported into UltraFractal and rendered there, in a big size and resolution and the colours were smooth as usual, no strips or bands or anything like that. As always, no Photoshop involved whatsoever.

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The chosen ones, part IV

From Fractal Gallery 10, “Inbetween days”:

Fractint and quite simple, using one of these odd colour maps (maybe it’s even its default map, not sure). But it ended up being extremely similar to the theme of the face painting used in the video for the song of the same name by The Cure. Again, seems like a tribute, but it was an accident, one of these that only happens with Fractint. Here’s some screen caps of the video:

A screen cap of the video by The Cure

Inbetween days - from Tim Pope's site

Inbetween Days

Inbetween Days video

It’s funny that some of these accidental images are related to The Cure (some of course were kind of inspired by or made while listening to their music as it’s one of my favourite bands), as it seems that Robert Smith himself was kind of the person that actually made me (or… forced me to!) put up a webpage to display my fractals.

When I started making my first images, it was about the same time that they were experimenting with a relatively new technology at the time (1997/98), video broadcastings and video chats. They set up a camera in the studio while recording their latest single at the time, Wrong Number (every other band does this nowadays… so it might not sound as exciting as it was back then), and we used to hang out there and chat with some of them almost every day, and even Robert Smith himself used to appear after the sessions were finished for a brief chat. It was a lot of fun, even with the poor connection I had these days (try a video chat using a 14.4 modem…), it was worth it every minute.

At this same time they had a fractal theme full of Mandelbrots in their official website (unfortunately the Web Archive doesn’t have it saved, it was very nice… maybe some fansite still have it), so I figured Robert was a bit interested in fractals… or at least knew what they were as there is even a song in the Wild Mood Swings album (their last one at that time) that is called “Strange attractions”, that says “strange attractions spread its wings/it varies but the smallest things/you’ll never know how anything will change”… makes all sense if you know fractals, doesn’t it?

So in one of these chats post-recording sessions when Robert popped in for a chat I was thinking about a way to ask him something that wasn’t too much fan-related, as he was just leaving work and probably didn’t want to talk about it… so I just said something like “Robert, you seem to enjoy fractals, I am making a fractal page”… and he promptly asked me “what’s the URL?”… and there wasn’t a page ready yet! It was being prepared and would go online sometime soon, but it wasn’t ready… no need to say that I immediately gave him an URL at Geocities or something that was saved for it and told him to visit it the next day or something because it was “under construction” and the images weren’t all uploaded yet… if it wasn’t for this push, I’d probably never really have started a website with my fractals… and here I am, almost 15 years later writing about it…

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To be or not to be…

… in the latest fractal trend?

It seems that the new thing is the Mandelbulb. There are some nice images, I might try it sometime (and I already have some ideas on where to go if I ever try it), if it’s nothing too complex and for mathematicians only (a.k.a. boring). Some of these fractal softwares are too time consuming before you can do anything useful – artistically – with them and I’m not willing to spend a lot of time (re)learning how to use it neither I want to use it just doing random renders like most Apophysis users/”artists” do.

I was never much a fan of these quaternion images, but now the details in this new kind of image are interesting.

Update: no, I’m not impressed. Maybe in the future. I’d never replace my Fractint for that.

Update 2: Well, Mandelbulb 3D seems better. Easier to use, slow as fuck but way more interesting.

Update 3: When I said “better” I mean that it’s better than the other Mandelbulb software I had tested, but it’s still nothing special and I’m not really interested. Unfortunately, a lot of visitors of this site are looking for Mandelbulbs. I won’t surrender.

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