Benoit Mandelbrot
© Copyright 2009 Sean McCurry

This fractal was created using a juliascope variation in Apophysis and is somewhat hypnotic, hence the name “Hypnoscope”.  If you stare into the center of this design as it plays, the fractal will appear to move slowly in the opposite direction once it stops.  This animation was tricky to create, due largely to the fact that the version of Apophysis used to render this fractal does not have any built-in animation capabilities.  Each frame of this animation had to be rendered individually and compiled in Flash.

Frame by Frame
Batch Rendering

Animating fractals is by no means new to the genre, but has really only become increasingly popular over the last few years.  As such, most fractal design programs do not have any built-in features designed to facilitate animation.  Animation can still be achieved in any of these programs, but until some of them catch up to the growing interest in fractal animation it will have to be done the old fashioned way.  That is, the fractal will have to be rendered frame-by-frame with subtle transformations in between each render.  This is disconcerting when you are dealing with complex flames because you could be facing hours of time devoted to each individual render.  Depending on the extent of your animation and the specifics of the fractal itself, it may take as few as 30 frames or as many as 100 before you work your way back to the beginning (if you intend to loop the animation).  Not only that, but you have no way of knowing what the finished animation will look like until a sizeable portion of it has been rendered.  Imagine the disappointment of a day or more put into rendering an animation, only to discover that it looks ridiculous when you play it out.  This tedious process is the likely culprit for the slow increase in available fractal animations over the years.

The easiest way to render an animation by far is through batch rendering.  Rendering an animation in “batches” means that all of the frames required to run the animation are processed in one fell swoop by the rendering program.  The number of frames and the transformations for each individual frame are determined beforehand.  Unfortunately, as mentioned in the “Frame by Frame” section, very few fractal design programs have this capability.  The widely popular Ultra Fractal does, in fact, have a new built-in system for batch rendering, although the inclusion of this feature bumps the software’s price tag up from $80 to $140 U.S.  As a result of the unprecedented simplicity of this feature, most of the newer fractal animations being played on the internet are visually simple, and easily distinguishable as having originated from Ultra Fractal.  At any rate, this feature opens up a great new dimension in fractal design, and as more people get comfortable with its use we will likely be seeing more and more dynamic animations in the future.