We may lose manufacturing and even service jobs to machine automation over the next several years, but the creative jobs usually seemed pretty safe. And for the most part, they still are. But it doesn’t help that animation which isn’t just computer-generated, but computer-designed, can actually look really cool.
Fraktaal is a three-and-a-half minute short film from VFX supervisor and self-proclaimed “fractal artist” Julius Horsthuis. It has no story, but it’s full of atmosphere, as it pans through a shifting science fiction landscape, gradually moving from what appears to be a moon city on some strange planet, to a psychedelic singularity of technology inside the planet itself.
True to its name, the visuals were entirely generated with a computer program which uses mathematical patterns to create cool fractal shapes. You can see the entirety of Fraktaal below:
The program Horsthuis is using is called Mandelbulb 3D, and it’s available online for anyone who’s curious to mess around with it. The user has quite a bit of control over many aspects of the fractals, but the lightings, colors, depth, shadows, and the shapes themselves are all created using dozens of nonlinear equations.
“It so happens that I’m a lazy animator. Using fractals, I can conjure up entire worlds without having to draw or model anything. These shapes hide in the formulas, they exist in a mathematical reality, all I need to do is explore those worlds and make them reveal themselves. For me, that discovery has become one of the most thrilling aspects of digital filmmaking.”
And it’s worth noting that only the visuals were randomly generated by a computer; the music was composed deliberately by the human being David Levy, and has a sprawling feel to it that you often find in science fiction movies.
The end result is something that’s fascinating to watch, creating a world that would look dystopian if it were in any way suited to humans instead of purely machines. The real dystopian part might be the film’s implications, as this is extremely fancy for a digital landscape which was largely crafted by digital hands.
It beats out anything Pixar was making 20 years ago, and it’s not too far off from what they’re making now. They may want to take notice, because it’d be all too easy to slip some digital new employees into their office to work on their next film.
In the Vimeo description for Fraktaal, Horsthuis explains his rationale behind making/letting the computer make the film, implying that his passion might lie more with math than with animation: