"3D" Images

Fractint can restore images in "3D". Important: we use quotation marks because it does not CREATE images of 3D fractal objects (there are such, but we're not there yet.) Instead, it restores .GIF images as a 3D PROJECTION or STEREO IMAGE PAIR. The iteration values you've come to know and love, the ones that determine pixel colors, are translated into "height" so that your saved screen becomes a landscape viewed in perspective. You can even wrap the landscape onto a sphere for realistic-looking planets and moons that never existed outside your PC!

We suggest starting with a saved plasma-cloud screen. Hit [3] in main command mode to begin the process. Next, select the file to be transformed, and the video mode. (Usually you want the same video mode the file was generated in; other choices may or may not work.)

After hitting [3], you'll be bombarded with a long series of options. Not to worry: all of them have defaults chosen to yield an acceptable starting image, so the first time out just pump your way through with the [Enter] key. When you enter a different value for any option, that becomes the default value the next time you hit [3], so you can change one option at a time until you get what you want. Generally [ESC] will take you back to the previous screen.

Once you're familiar with the effects of the 3D option values you have a variety of options on how to specify them. You can specify them all on the command line (there ARE a lot of them so they may not all fit within the DOS command line limits), with an SSTOOLS.INI file, or with a parameter file.

Here's an example for you power FRACTINTers, the command

        FRACTINT MYFILE SAVENAME=MY3D 3D=YES BATCH=YES

would make Fractint load MYFILE.GIF, re-plot it as a 3D landscape (taking all of the defaults), save the result as MY3D.GIF, and exit to DOS. By the time you've come back with that cup of coffee, you'll have a new world to view, if not conquer.

Note that the image created by 3D transformation is treated as if it were a plasma cloud - We have NO idea how to retain the ability to zoom and pan around a 3D image that has been twisted, stretched, perspective- ized, and water-leveled. Actually, we do, but it involves the kind of hardware that Industrial Light & Magic, Pixar et al. use for feature films. So if you'd like to send us a check equivalent to George Lucas' net from the "Star Wars" series...

3D Mode Selection

After hitting [3] and getting past the filename prompt and video mode selection, you're presented with a "3d Mode Selection" screen. If you wish to change the default for any of the following parameters, use the cursor keys to move through the menu. When you're satisfied press [Enter].

Preview Mode:
Preview mode provides a rapid look at your transformed image using by skipping a lot of rows and filling the image in. Good for quickly discovering the best parameters. Let's face it, the Fractint authors most famous for "blazingly fast" code *DIDN'T* write the 3D routines! [Pieter: "But they *are* picking away it and making some progress in each release."]

Show Box:
If you have selected Preview Mode you have another option to worry about. This is the option to show the image box in scaled and rotated coordinates x, y, and z. The box only appears in rectangular transformations and shows how the final image will be oriented. If you select light source in the next screen, it will also show you the light source vector so you can tell where the light is coming from in relation to your image. Sorry no head or tail on the vector yet.

Coarseness:
This sets how many divisions the image will be divided into in the y direction, if you select preview mode, ray tracing output, or grid fill in the "Select Fill Type" screen.

Spherical Projection:
The next question asks if you want a sphere projection. This will take your image and map it onto a plane if you answer "no" or a sphere if you answer "yes" as described above. Try it and you'll see what we mean. See Spherical Projection .

Stereo:
Stereo sound in Fractint? Well, not yet. Fractint now allows you to create 3D images for use with red/blue glasses like 3D comics you may have seen, or images like Captain EO.

Option 0 is normal old 3D you can look at with just your eyes.

Options 1 and 2 require the special red/blue-green glasses. They are meant to be viewed right on the screen or on a color print off of the screen. The image can be made to hover entirely or partially in front of the screen. Great fun! These two options give a gray scale image when viewed.

Option 1 gives 64 shades of gray but with half the spatial resolution you have selected. It works by writing the red and blue images on adjacent pixels, which is why it eats half your resolution. In general, we recommend you use this only with resolutions above 640x350. Use this mode for continuous potential landscapes where you *NEED* all those shades.

Option "2" gives you full spatial resolution but with only 16 shades of gray. If the red and blue images overlap, the colors are mixed. Good for wire-frame images (we call them surface grids), lorenz3d and 3D IFS. Works fine in 16 color modes.

Option 3 is for creating stereo pair images for view later with more specialized equipment. It allows full color images to be presented in glorious stereo. The left image presented on the screen first. You may photograph it or save it. Then the second image is presented, you may do the same as the first image. You can then take the two images and convert them to a stereo image pair as outlined by Bruce Goren (see below).

Option 4 places left and right images on the screen simultaneously as a stereo pair.

Also see Stereo 3D Viewing.

Ray Tracing Output:
Fractint can create files of its 3d transformations which are compatible with many ray tracing programs. Currently four are supported directly: DKB (now obsolete), VIVID, MTV, and RAYSHADE. In addition a "RAW" output is supported which can be relatively easily transformed to be usable by many other products. One other option is supported: ACROSPIN. This is not a ray tracer, but the same Fractint options apply - see Acrospin
Option values:
        0  disables the creation of ray tracing output
        1  DKB format (obsolete-see below)
        2  VIVID format
        3  generic format (must be massaged externally)
        4  MTV format
        5  RAYSHADE format
        6  ACROSPIN format

Users of POV-Ray can use the DKB output and convert to POV-Ray with the DKB2POV utility that comes with POV-Ray. A better (faster) approach is to create a RAW output file and convert to POV-Ray with RAW2POV. A still better approach is to use POV-Ray's height field feature to directly read the fractal .GIF or .POT file and do the 3D transformation inside POV-Ray.

All ray tracing files consist of triangles which follow the surface created by Fractint during the 3d transform. Triangles which lie below the "water line" are not created in order to avoid causing unnecessary work for the poor ray tracers which are already overworked. A simple plane can be substituted by the user at the waterline if needed.

The size (and therefore the number) of triangles created is determined by the "coarse" parameter setting. While generating the ray tracing file, you will view the image from above and watch it partitioned into triangles.

The color of each triangle is the average of the color of its verticies in the original image, unless BRIEF is selected.

If BRIEF is selected, a default color is assigned at the begining of the file and is used for all triangles.

Also see Interfacing with Ray Tracing Programs .

Brief output:
This is a ray tracing sub-option. When it is set to yes, Fractint creates a considerably smaller and somewhat faster file. In this mode, all triangles use the default color specified at the begining of the file. This color should be edited to supply the color of your choice.

Targa Output:
If you want any of the 3d transforms you select to be saved as a Targa-24 file or overlayed onto one, select yes for this option. The overlay option in the final screen determines whether you will create a new file or overlay an existing one.

MAP File name:
Imediately after selecting the previous options, you will be given the chance to select an alternate color MAP file. The default is to use the current MAP. If you want another MAP used, then enter your selection at this point.

Output File Name:
This is a ray tracing sub-option, used to specify the name of the file to be written. The default name is FRACT001.RAY. The name is incremented by one each time a file is written. If you have not set "overwrite=yes" then the file name will also be automatically incremented to avoid over-writing previous files.

When you are satisfied with your selections press enter to go to the next parameter screen.

Select Fill Type Screen

This option exists because in the course of the 3D projection, portions of the original image may be stretched to fit the new surface. Points of an image that formerly were right next to each other, now may have a space between them. This option generally determines what to do with the space between the mapped dots. It is not used if you have selected a value for RAY other than 0.

For an illustration, pick the second option "just draw the points", which just maps points to corresponding points. Generally this will leave empty space between many of the points. Therefore you can choose various algorithms that "fill in" the space between the points in various ways.

Later, try the first option "make a surface grid." This option will make a grid of the surface which is as many divisions in the original "y" direction as was set in "coarse" in the first screen. It is very fast, and can give you a good idea what the final relationship of parts of your picture will look like.

Later, try the second option "connect the dots (wire frame)", then "surface fills" - "colors interpolated" and "colors not interpolated", the general favorites of the authors. Solid fill, while it reveals the pseudo-geology under your pseudo-landscape, inevitably takes longer.

Later, try the light source fill types. These two algorithms allow you to position the "sun" over your "landscape." Each pixel is colored according to the angle the surface makes with an imaginary light source. You will be asked to enter the three coordinates of the vector pointing

toward the light in a following parameter screen - see Light Source Parameters .

"Light source before transformation" uses the illumination direction without transforming it. The light source is fixed relative to your computer screen. If you generate a sequence of images with progressive rotation, the effect is as if you and the light source are fixed and the object is rotating. Therefore as the object rotates features of the object move in and out of the light. This fill option was incorrect prior to version 16.1, and has been changed.

"Light source after transformation" applies the same transformation to both the light direction and the object. Since both the light direction and the object are transformed, if you generate a sequence of images with the rotation progressively changed, the effect is as if the image and the light source are fixed in relation to each other and you orbit around the image. The illumination of features on the object is constant, but you see the object from different angles. This fill option was correct in earlier Fractint versions and has not been changed.

For ease of discussion we will refer to the following fill types by these numbers:

      1 - surface grid
      2 - (default) - no fill at all - just draw the dots
      3 - wire frame - joins points with lines
      4 - surface fill - (colors interpolated)
      5 - surface fill - (interpolation turned off)
      6 - solid fill - draws lines from the "ground" up to the point
      7 - surface fill with light model - calculated before 3D transforms
      8 - surface fill with light model - calculated after 3D transforms

Types 4, 7, and 8 interpolate colors when filling, making a very smooth fill if the palette is continuous. This may not be desirable if the palette is not continuous. Type 5 is the same as type 4 with interpolation turned off. You might want to use fill type 5, for example, to project a .GIF photograph onto a sphere. With type 4, you might see the filled-in points, since chances are the palette is not continuous; type 5 fills those same points in with the colors of adjacent pixels. However, for most fractal images, fill type 4 works better.

This screen is not available if you have selected a ray tracing option.

Stereo 3D Viewing

The "Funny Glasses" (stereo 3D) parameter screen is presented only if you select a non-zero stereo option in the prior 3D parameters. (See 3D Mode Selection .) We suggest you definitely use defaults at first on this screen.

When you look at an image with both eyes, each eye sees the image in slightly different perspective because they see it from different places.

The first selection you must make is ocular separation, the distance the between the viewers eyes. This is measured as a % of screen and is an important factor in setting the position of the final stereo image in front of or behind the CRT Screen.

The second selection is convergence, also as a % of screen. This tends to move the image forward and back to set where it floats. More positive values move the image towards the viewer. The value of this parameter needs to be set in conjunction with the setting of ocular separation and the perspective distance. It directly adjusts the overall separation of the two stereo images. Beginning anaglyphers love to create images floating mystically in front of the screen, but grizzled old 3D veterans look upon such antics with disdain, and believe the image should be safely inside the monitor where it belongs!

Left and Right Red and Blue image crop (% of screen also) help keep the visible part of the right image the same as the visible part of the left by cropping them. If there is too much in the field of either eye that the other doesn't see, the stereo effect can be ruined.

Red and Blue brightness factor. The generally available red/blue-green glasses, made for viewing on ink on paper and not the light from a CRT, let in more red light in the blue-green lens than we would like. This leaves a ghost of the red image on the blue-green image (definitely not desired in stereo images). We have countered this by adjusting the intensity of the red and blue values on the CRT. In general you should not have to adjust this.

The final entry is Map file name (present only if stereo=1 or stereo=2 was selected). If you have a special map file you want to use for Stereo 3D this is the place to enter its name. Generally glasses1.map is for type 1 (alternating pixels), and glasses2.map is for type 2 (superimposed pixels). Grid.map is great for wire-frame images using 16 color modes.

This screen is not available if you have selected a ray tracing option.


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Noel Giffin,
noel@triumf.ca