Vol Libre (1980)

Vol Libre (1980)


First fractal generated computer animation


Silent film

Video (silent)


1) The first film using fractals to generate the graphics was made by Loren Carpenter of Boeing. It showed a flight over a fractal landscape, and was presented at SIGGRAPH 1980.

2) Showcase of software for generating and rendering fractally generated landscapes was met with a standing ovation, and (as Carpenter had hoped) he was immediately invited to work at Lucasfilm's Computer Division (which would later becomes a  Pixar).

3) Carpenter stood before the thousand engineers crammed into the conference hall, all of whom had seen the image on the cover of the conference proceedings, many of whom had a hunch that something cool was going to happen. He introduced his little film that would demonstrate that these algorithms were real. 

4) Vol Libre soared over rocky mountains with snowy peaks, banking and diving like a glider. It was utterly realistic, certainly more than anything ever before created by a computer. After a minute there was a small interlude demonstrating some surrealistic floating objects, spheres with lightning bolts electrifying their insides. And then it ended with a climatic zooming flight through the landscape, finally coming to rest on a tiny teapot, Martin Newell's infamous creation, sitting on the mountainside.

5) Carpenter's fractal technique was used by the computer graphics department at ILM (a subsidiary of Lucasfilm) for their first feature film sequence and the first film sequence to be completely computer generated: the Genesis effect in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan

6) In mathematics, a fractal is an abstract object used to describe and simulate naturally occurring objects. Artificially created fractals commonly exhibit similar patterns at increasingly small scales.It is also known as expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry. If the replication is exactly the same at every scale, it is called a self-similar pattern. An example of this is the Menger sponge. Fractals can also be nearly the same at different levels. This latter pattern is illustrated in small magnifications of the Mandelbrot set.Fractals also include the idea of a detailed pattern that repeats itself.

7) Fractal-generating software is any type of graphics software that generates images of fractals. There are many fractal generating programs available, both free and commercial. Mobile apps are available to play or tinker with fractals. Some programmers create fractal software for themselves because of the novelty and because of the challenge in understanding the related mathematics. The generation of fractals has led to some very large problems for pure mathematics. Modern computers may take seconds or minutes to complete a single high resolution fractal image. Images are generated for both simulation (modeling) as well as random fractals for art. Fractal generation used for modeling is part of realism in computer graphics.Fractal generation software can be used to mimic natural landscapes with fractal landscapes and scenery generation programs. Fractal imagery can be used to introduce irregularity to an otherwise sterile computer generated environment.

8) First videogame to use fractals is Rescue On Fractalus! (1984).