Animation Configurator

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Fractal Architect Animation Philosophy

In the last generation of fractal animation capable products, the actual animation capabilities were quite limited.

FA 4's animation philosophy is this:

  • Every property can be animated
  • Legacy animation techniques like morphs and looping are fully supported
  • You have full control over everything.
  • You can preview the animation everywhere at any time
  • Creating animations is supported by many tools
  • Variants Editor can create animations too
  • You can see the audio waveform and can place animations relative to the audio
  • You can create your own smooth complex curves
  • Camera animation is very important giving you film-like animations
  • Camera movement paths must be smooth


What's an Animation?

A single parameter whose value progresses from a From value to a To value. Its Animation curve determines how quickly the value is changed over an interval of time.

A typical fractal can have up to 500 different parameters that can all be animated independently. But most designers will only animate a handful of parameters at a time.

What's an Animation Segment?

Bundle of 1 to many simultaneous animations, each having its own animation curve.

Each animation, inside a Segment, when placed into a Sequence, shares the same start time and duration as all animations in that Segment.

What is a keyframe morph animation?

A keyframe morph is a simple operation where 2 keyframes are "blended" together using affine interpolation, where the From value is the 1st keyframe and the To keyframe is the 2nd keyframe.

All of the "blended" properties in a morph animation share the same animation curve. Simple to use, but the shared animation curve is big limitation.

What is a keyframe looping animation?

A keyframe looping animation applies a rotation to each transform's pre-matrix. This simple animation is found in videos created by Scott Drave's Electric Sheep project.

What is a Keyframe Animation Segment?

Keyframe animation segments have either 1 fixed keyframe or 2 keyframes that are morphed together.
They can also contain between 0 and many additional animations, with independent animation curves.

Animation Curves

FA 4 supports 11 types of curves in 4 categories:

  1. Ramp - linear, exponential, tanh, sinh, cos half-power
  2. Pulse - cos power, skewed cos power
  3. Periodic - sin, cos
  4. Spline Curve - catmull-rom, b-spline

Simple Animation Curves only have 2 parameters that determines the curve shape. The first 3 categories shown above are simple curves.

Complex Spline curves can be as complex as you want to make them (using the app's spline curve editor)

Configuring a Single Animation Segment

The Animation configurator configures a single animation segment. It allows you to setup an unlimited number of animations for the segment.

Tree View Editor

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Properties are organized using a Tree view. There are 5 categories for the fractal as a whole, followed by 5 categories for each transform.

You work within the Tree view to select properties to animate. You choose the property, then configure its From/To value and its animation curve.

For every property, one of 14 different configuration panels are shown:

  1. keyframe morph animation
  2. numeric property
  3. 2D Path - with either 2D Catmull or B-spline NURBS curve
  4. 2D Path - with either 3D Catmull or B-spline NURBS curve
  5. transformation matrix coefficients
  6. transformation matrix - Rotate/Scale/Translate operations
  7. color gradient
  8. background color
  9. color curve
  10. boolean property
  11. Xaos matrix
  12. Viewport rotate/scale about arbitrary point
  13. Camera pitch/yaw/roll animation
  14. Camera Location + Lookat point animation
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Each animation property has its own animation curve instance. Some of the properties use 2D or 3D paths, instead of a traditional animation curve.

Segment Tabular View

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The Grid View provides an alternate way to see the animations inside an animation segment. It provides limited editing capability.

Previewing Animations from Configurator

You will want to preview animations frequently to see if you like their effect. The importance of frequent previews cannot be understated.

The Animation Configurator has 3 ways to preview them.

  • Render group of thumbnails with optional video popover
  • Preview animations with Video preview slider popover
    • Use either manual or automated slider dragging
  • Create Test Quicktime video

Video Slider Preview

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Thumbnails + Video Popover

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Creating Animations using Variants Editor

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The Variants editor creates new fractals by changing one or more properties of a base fractal. The property changes can be captured as animations. This is probably the best way to find which properties can make beautiful animations.

You can mouse drag a thumbnail from the Variants editor and drop it on a hotspot in the Animation configurator. That copies the same variant's property changes as an animation. (Traditional copy/paste works too.)

Figuring which property animations work well is hard. Using the Variants editor to find good animatable properties is much easier.

Creating Animations using From/To/Keyframes

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Another way to find good animations is to use the Triangle editor.

You can already easily add new keyframes using the Triangle editor, but this approach does not do that.

From the Animation Configurator, click the From/To Editors button. Select either the From or To thumbnail and click its Triangle editor button. Changes made with the editor are saved as animations, when you close the Triangle editor.

Please visit these manual pages:

Animation Segment Configurator
Configurator HowTo

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