Darxus

distributed fractal rendering

distributed fractal rendering

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2009-09-29
I found a very beautiful abstract background that was exactly what I wanted. The description said it was made with Apophysis. That turned out to be a fractal flame generator. Fractals are good. Gimp can also render fractal flames. They are an extension of IFS fractals. This was apparently all started by Scott Draves in 1992. He created a free application to do distributed rendering of animations of these beautiful fractals, integrated into a screensaver which plays the animations back. Each animation segment is a part of a loop, with a beginning and ending corresponding to other segments, so they loop together smoothly.

This wonderfulness is called electric sheep. It is freely downloadable for Windows, MacOS, Linux, and BSD. The Debian package is electricsheep, and it is supported by xscreensaver.

I had heard of it before, but I guess nobody told me how cool it was in the right words.

The unfortunate part about it is that with current server load it's taking a couple hours to download the first few sheep to get the visuals going, but it is totally worthwhile. To see a few example segments go to electric sheep and click one of the "top sheep" on the left.
  • Yup. I run it on my laptop. I heard said that "If hippies in the 60's had electric sheep, they would have grooved themselves to death."
  • Nice, I had this a while ago and kinda forgot about it. Thanks for reminding me. Neat stuff.
  • Just to clarify a little, Electric Sheep didn't actually take shape until around '99 or so - I recall his presentation at the MIT Media Lab then, before it was released. I randomly encountered Spot again at Burning Man in '01 - he was attracted like a moth to a flame by our first LED art piece, and going on about The Bomb, another of his creations. And of course he wrote the fractal flame generator for The Gimp. He's visited folks in Boston a few times since then.
    You should check out his DVD, Spotworks - it is a quite beautiful long sequence of kaleidoscopic fractal visuals.
    Looks like he's got a new hi-res Sheep-based project now. I'd love to see that on a big screen.
    • The high resolution electric sheep you're talking about is http://hifidreams.com/ ? Annoying it can only be purchased as an appliance while my computers participate in rendering for it. Seems like a decent way to support the free version, but I had been thinking it really would be nice to increase the resolution. And the second head on my home computer is a high-def projector.
  • make sure you check out spotworks, too.
    (also a Draves thing)
  • Flarium's another neat fractal generator, though I've only used it for tinkering Mandelbrots.
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