Frax Explore Help
Select a section to read:
Quick intro: What is Frax?
Frax is an iOS app let’s you explore the classic fractal shapes of the Mandelbrot and Julia sets.
If you have never heard of them and are wondering, you can find lots of background information on the science of fractals.
By the way: there is no ‘scary math’ - you can enjoy fractals entirely ‘without any formulas’. They are actually Visualizing the Essence of Nature, very deep and fascinating and even important!
We tried to create Frax in the spirit of a good musical instrument: you can sit down and tinker around instantly - and even enjoy doing that. And then there is the next level of fun by getting better, understanding the subtleties and really create things of beauty.
Some will mistake Frax to be ‘a little toy’ with ‘some funny patterns’ on the screen - but there is a lot more to it if you care to look a bit closer.
For those who really share our fascination for the inspiration of nature’s forms and shades there is a lot more of the ‘instrument’ in Frax Pro.
But for now, just have fun exploring Frax Explore!
So let’s go on a little tour!
When you first start up there is the splash screen with the “default spiral” - which is also the preset #1 in the ‘factory album’ as we will see later.
Later when you return to Frax, it will ‘wake up’ just as you left it, with whatever image you had last.
The splash screen is a picture, but a few seconds later you see it again, ‘being built’ - or as they say in computer graphics ‘rendered’ - and now it is no longer just ‘a 2D image’, but a continuously calculated shape that you can zoom, pan or rotate.
Tip: As it moves and animates, the image will be constantly re-evaluated and updated - but if you simply tap once it will stop all animated motion and build up the best still image it can.
The Four Buttons
What you see first are the main four buttons:
You probably figured this out after seeing the initial help videos: they are the principal interface to all the Explore functions.
Actually, they are not so much ‘buttons’ as really switching between four distinct sets of gestures, as well as animation and shuffling behaviour.
You basically say “now I want to play with lights” and once you tap that button, all your swiping and pinching is applying to, well… lights :)
Not hard, really, takes just a minute to get used to.
Button 1: ‘Motion’
The first button is all about the realtime interaction to explore the fractal.
Tap Motion and the button gets taller: two ‘glassy little wings’ come out, with icons.
The touch area is the whole wing, not just the icon, big enough to always tap right.
Note: you might notice right away that the color of the buttons is changing - kind of a ‘chameleon’ effect: it is a weighted average of the colors in the background (morphing even during animation!)
That is not just a cutesy designer folly: when we tried variations of black, white and various fixed colors it was either quickly ‘clashing’ or very ‘loud’ against the often highly subtle hues and shades in the fractals. We found this a much more pleasing alternative: the controls are always clearly visible, not overpowering - but gently part of the space.
First though, let’s focus on all you can do with the Gestures while Motion is the selected mode - and that is really nothing less than realtime flying and
exploring the fractals!
Let’s start simple with the basic Swipe: this behaves just as with photos and moves the shape in the direction of your finger.
Tip: if you take it slowly and don’t zip along wildly, you will see that at a specific speed it can move almost perfectly lossless and pristine.
This will vary greatly from iOS device to device with more than a 7:1 range of power between earlier ones and the newest for 2013.
Here is a page with some details on the various iPhones and iPads and their performance with Frax.
Something else you notice within seconds: as soon as you let go, the image is… scooting along on its own, an animated ‘panning’ as they call it in CG. With photos that only lasts a few seconds - here it could go on for a long long time.
The next thing to notice…: when the fractal is panning on its own… you can tilt!
Moving the device at angles will change the direction of the movement - even bring it to a halt and reverse direction!
Remember: tap once to stop all animation and tilt.
Tip: it is worth understanding that a little bit:
- You do not have to move it very much at all. It is not about ‘big jumps’ to vertical and horizontal ;)
Hold it steady and change the angles only in slight steps, a few degrees.
- To get the hang of it - try swiping fairly fast and let go - then try tilting to stop it… and reverse!
- The tilt is ‘relative’ - it is adjusted new every time. So if you start at 45°, that is considered “neutral” and all deviations from there to 44° and 46° are added to- or subtracted from - the acceleration.
- The Zoom speed remains constant always.
You will stop the panning - but not the zoom.
Next lets talk about Zoom!
There are two distinct methods - to each his own…
One is the continuous free-form two finger Pinch and Spread gesture - it is the realtime zoom also known from Photos - except here it can zoom much deeper. And it can keep going animated on its own for a long long time.
The advantage is the free ‘flying’ feel and the continuous animated action: you can give it a nudge and it flies along.
Second is the Tap Zoom which is also familiar from the Maps app. Double Tap with one finger zooms in and single tap with two fingers zooms out.
Here the advantage is doing it in discrete steps: you always get an exact 300% zoom and then it stops.
Tip: Notice that the point you tap becomes the new center!
Just for one moment it is worth getting a little grasp of what you see happening there.
If you use the tap zoom from “all the way out” with the Mandelbrot set about a third of the screen - you will zoom in 3x and it fits. Tap again and you will see a third of it, up-close.
You can tap and tap and tap, gaining 3x each time:
On the iPhone that goes roughly 30 times (in the Mandelbrot - Julias far less ) before you reach the 64bit precision limit.
That is 3 x 3 x 3 x 3… thirty times - or just about two hundred thousand billion times magnified.
Of course it actually continues infinitely deeper, in principle, and there is no reason to believe that the Mandelbrot would not change along with that, infinitely - there is merely the issue of self similarity that sets in at some point, where it becomes a ‘diminishing return’ to spend exponentially more computation and ever lengthening render time.
Resident math fiend Ben says that the 64 bit limit on iOS is absolute and final and nothing can be done - … but check next week, just in case ;)
By the way, earlier for ‘panning’ we wrote ‘it can go much, much longer’ than in any photos or images. But now it is a little clearer just how extreme:
If you zoom in fairly deep and then pan sideways and let it go… even at a zippy speed of 3 screens per second you would be waiting for YEARS, and at full depth it is totally beyond ridiculous.
Tip: Do NOT get out your calculator to try it out ;)
There is no correlation to beauty of course. Some of the most interesting images are not zoomed far. We would like to extend the range in the future anyway, soon the CPU/GPU speed will allow much more!
Again as with other apps - nothing especially tricky here - 2 finger rotate does the rotation… ;) But - what is not quite obvious is the fact that not only does it also continue on its own, animated…
…but that you can combine ALL of the gestures together at the same time: You can rotate a little, while zooming in a bit, while panning sideways… and then tilting to steer the whole thing in realtime!
There are some very, very fun complex motion patterns possible… give it a try!
Tip: and while we are at it, here is a little hidden easter egg: tap three times rapidly - Hyperzoom!
It will fly all the way out to the full set, pause, and then zoom back-in, with a 360° spiral rotation even, to the exact spot you had, ‘losslessly’. Very fun, especially when you have been really deep down…
We already mentioned it: you can scoot along all the Motion gestures and make them continue on their own, animated.
Tip: there is no real ‘animation speed’ variable. It is simply as fast as your last movement at the exact moment of letting go.
Tip: another important thing to know: you can later save a preset to your own album which includes all the animated movements (and colors and lights moving as well!) - and as you load it back in, it will continue exactly as you saw it at the time.
You can probably spend quite a bit of time simply flying in and out of all the various areas. It has never before been quite so much effortless fun to explore all the nooks and crannies of all the famous areas in the Mandelbrot set.
You really can be the first person ever to find some particularly curious shape location and we will show you in a minute how to save it.
Now it is time to look at the little wings on the Motion button…
The top one is a simple control to start and stop the animation. It toggles back and forth: while it is moving, the little button means Pause it now!
And when it is paused, it flips to the opposite, the Play triangle, to make it move again…
While we mentioned ‘a single tap stops all motion, that is more a general stop. You will see in a little while that Colors and Lights can also animate, and they also have their own start and stop icon. That way you have exact control which part should be moving - you can isolate them one at a time, tune it just as you like, and then have any of these eight combinations:
Motion only, Color only, Lights only
Motion & Color, Motion & Lights, Color & Lights
or all three at once.
So after all the gestures and animation play/pause it is now time to get to the other key function in exploring Motion: Shuffle
On the bottom ‘wing’ of the Motion button you find the familiar Shuffle icon - which symbolizes a simple randomizing function.
So far we talked about using panning and zooming to get around the complex fractal structure, and we already touched on just how huge it really is.
In order to make it a bit easier to get going, there are built-in specific starter locations for you to try, some 180 of them! (for Frax Pro 360 even…) and that is what the Shuffle icon does: with each tap you will be transported to a new spot in the endless Mandelbrot and Julia set universes…from there you can continue on your own.
There is so much to discover!
They were carefully chosen to represent examples of the gigantic variety of shapes and forms…
Below are a sampling of the kinds of locations you will get to with the Motion Shuffle button.
Dense fields of spirals, or spirals of spirals:
MiniMandel sets surrounded by strange filaments:
Thin outlines and stalks, sometimes on white, too:
A great deal of variety - 180 of them and 360 in Frax Pro!
Styling a Frax
Frax uses the following stages to stylize the fractal:
Initially it is just 2D points and lines that do not look like much. It only really gets interesting in the spaces in-between these limits…
Frax then applies Colors, for which utilizes special strips of 512 steps called ‘Gradients’. They ‘flow into the fields’, so to speak…
The jump to 3D comes via real Lights, two separate ones with shadows, gloss, reflections and more, as well as 360° positioning…
And last a highly complex chaotic Texture is applied with lots of parameters and its own height - and the lights catching the relief…
Now the other buttons!
Button 2: ‘Colors’
So after we covered a lot of ‘moving around’ and the ‘where is it’ for a while. Next up is colorizing!
Here are the strips with 512 steps called Gradients:
Every time you hit the Shuffle icon on the Colors button, it will get a random fresh gradient chosen from a collection of 128 (in Frax Pro: 256)
It applies it to the shape, filling the spaces and then repeats that at all depth levels.
If you use the Pinch and Spread gesture, you will see something happen…: it will change how often the gradient is repeated, the so called ‘frequency’:
Here a basic green to red smooth gradient is first applied to the shape in a normal setting, going through all the colors…
If you use Spread, you will get low frequency and only see the red part of it - and a bit of yellow - but as you use Pinch, it will be high frequency and it repeats over and over again many times!
You can see that the lights - the shadows and the gloss - stay constant, the gestures only affect the colors alone.
Also you cannot move or zoom, it is all about Color now. If you switch back to Motion then you can change your location and fly - and Color is fixed :)
Another gesture in Colors is One Finger Swiping - and now it is a little easier to describe what that does: as the gradient is applied to the shape, it kind of has to decide ‘where to start’:
In the beginning of the Swipe it looks like A: red then yellow then green and looping back to yellow and orange…
In B it has all moved a bit to the right already, the orange gone and a bit of green shows far left…
In C it has moved even further, now green gone and red moved right…
The easiest way to think of it is ‘scrolling through the colors’ - as you would through pages of text :)
Tip: it is trying to follow right under your finger! If you observe it on a spiral or stalk or large feature….
The fun part: swipe, let go and watch it animate!
Tip: depending where and how you start and end, you can change the direction and speed drastically!
And one last gesture you can use in Colors is the Two Finger Rotate - which also does an actual rotation: around the Hue color wheel!
You probably know this from various color pickers, it has the rainbow spectrum arranged in a circle:
As your fingers twist around, each color is moved along to the next value: red will be magenta, then blue, then into the greens…
And here it is applied to the gradient in Frax: first starting normal…
then the shift to the purple tones…
then into blues and in the end…
the greens and yellows, and back to normal…
And now the Shuffle button again - this time in Colors…: you are choosing randomly as before, not actually Colors per se, but Gradients.
With every tap a new 512 step gradient is applied - with randomized settings for a dozen parameters like frequency, phase, saturation, blur, lightness, and more… ( all under direct control in Frax Pro ). Here just a quick example of a few shuffles:
Notice the shape and the lighting remain constant.
Tip: try this for a large shape like the default spiral: Pinch for high frequency, then Swipe to make it move slowly and then - shuffle while it is animating! Very interesting combinations come up fast!
Button 3: ‘Lights’
Now to the third button which switches all the gestures and shuffling to… Lights.
It makes all the difference in the world to take the plain structures and apply lighting so the shapes pop out as real objects: compare the plain grey without and the circle with gloss, shadows, height:
Let’s start with the Pinch and Spread gesture: when the Lights button is active, these will now control the 3D Height parameter - key to the lights having any effect: at zero everything is 2D flat.
Pinch around and you quickly see how the gloss gets “pointy” and the shadows become darker…:
There is one more gesture in Lights, the two finger rotation: it affects the direction of the reflections, which is subtle, but can make a nice difference:
In general the entire Lights are a very large playing field for “the instrument” Frax. Small changes can have significant effect! Here an example in which just the light angle makes an image flip inside out ! The brain interprets the shading as layered depth:
The real details of all the Lights parameters are actually quite involved. In the Pro version with access to each variable separately, there is also a massive version of this help file, with over 250 screens of deeper info covering this in great detail.
In this Explore version there are over 100 sets of light “genes” to mutate around via shuffling - and then the gestures change those a great deal still.
So many highly unusual effects can be found, but not only the glossy droplets look - which can be fun of course
but also matte sheen, soft metallics, or ghostly shapes, as you can see in the galleries on the Frax site - fract.al/gallery (better on a large screen ;)
Let us jump to Shuffle in Lights to see this in action - and then we get to the gestures…:
Every time you tap the Shuffle icon on the Lights button, Frax will replace all the variables that have to do with the lighting - and that is quite a few !
All the variations on the right here came up just by shuffling -and you can tell the many changes in brightness, shading, gloss, apparent height, shine, shape and orientation of the reflections and more…
There are two lights, each has its own 3D position with a range of 360° around and 90° above, plus size, shininess, reflection shape and twist and gloss intensity… and all those - for both lights - are randomized with each shuffle tap. :)
We now go back to the one finger Swipe gesture - that moves both lights at the same time! While you keep the finger in touch, they follow relative to your position (meaning they do not jump to your position, but move from the initial location, such as provided by shuffling, and then follow in your direction)
When you let go, that movement will animate continuously and keep going indefinitely… By now you know that the Pause icon will let you control that, independent of the animated Motion and Lights.
The Swiping of lights is actually an extremely complex process: both of the lights will swing a bit ‘like a pendulum’ each, moving out of the screen and back the other way. Swiping sideways near the bottom makes them go in large circles around.
Try loading this fun preset: little UFOs zipping around in starry skies - every swipe you do and each change in speed will create a different outcome, often quite surprisingly odd…
Give it a shot here!
Button 4: ‘Textures’
So now that we covered Lights for a while, it is time to get to the fourth button, the most complex of the bunch. What is a ‘texture’? Here are some:
In general one could describe Textures as kind of Surface Patterns - which you see here in many forms - but that is still just a tiny little sampling of the huge space of possibilities.
It is not ‘just a picture’ of something ‘pasted’ on there, since the zoom ranges are so huge, you would be inside a single pixel in seconds. It has to be made up of mathematical infinitely scalable shapes, like a sine wave.
To simplify it a bit: there are simple waves, which are then distorted by other waves, but those are also distorted by a third set of waves, and each of those is twisted, twirled, raked and such as well - leading to an unpredictable chaos of forms.
Frax has two of those components for each texture, which can be blended and combined. All in all there are 27 variables adding up to the final look -plus all the color things and lighting options (the full set of nearly 100 parameters in the Pro version).
The examples prove the usefulness of that gigantic space of possibilities for wonderful output.
Having an engine of that intricate complexity is particularly difficult with regards to the speed.
And that is one point to note right now: Textures can be manipulated by gestures in realtime - but the devices are not quite fast enough yet to allow simultaneous zoom, pan, rotate, color phase, light position AND textures… - so there is no animation and scooting on its own here….
Because of that you will also not find the usual Play & Pause icon on the Texture button, but instead a rather peculiar 2nd Shuffle icon:
Lets talk about the bottom one first, as it is symmetrical to all the other Shuffles so far…
Every time you tap the bottom Shuffle, you are generating a new Texture - and you probably got that part by now: that is independent of the others - the location, the colors and the lights. In other words if you have a glossy blue spiral, that all stays - just how you shape the surface will morph!
As you Shuffle you will see many wild textures pop up - and it is useful for you to know at least a little bit how they are put together.
Here is an example of the two components being combined to create a complex final texture. The stripes following in very different directions and the combination showing 90% A and a little bit B.
(The empty shape with no texture for comparison)
Now let’s use the Swipe gesture and see what happens to the texture: you will move around several ingredient variables and push around the features along the fractal shape, while the Rotate gesture affects the angles, so that using both allows you to achieve an ever-changing set of variation. Here just a few close up examples:
The Pinch gesture is also important: it is the relief height of the texture itself, added to the big 3D height of the fractal (that was Pinch in Lights!)
So the first thing to try is using the Texture Shuffle icon on the bottom to get something you find interesting and that may suit the shapes. Then using the one finger Swipe and two finger Rotate gestures to move things around, morph the structures until you decide you like it.
Also a bit of Pinch & Spread to control the relief height of the texture - which is catching in the lights!
And now to explain the OTHER Shuffle icon, at the top of the button. The bottom shuffles only textures - but the top one shuffles Colors, Lights and the Texture as well - all three together being called “Style” - leaving only the location as it was…
There are 128 such complete Styles (256 in Pro) to shuffle through - but you realize you can take each one and say: nice -but I rather switch the colors in this one - or the lights, or the texture…
It is actually fun to start with the Style shuffle to start and then replace each part to optimize…
Gesture Quick Reference
How each multi-touch gesture
is assigned to the four main buttons
Undo / Redo
Frax is unusual in the way that it changes the current image on your screen just about all the time with every swipe and touch gesture, with the animation, loading presets, all of it is affecting where you are, what it looks like, how the colors, lights and textures are defined…
Initially you are just exploring, looking around, shuffling things randomly…but after a while you begin to discern the subtle differences between the many possible effects.
Tip: do not let good stand in the way of better!
To help you to fine-tune and tweak we implemented a real Undo & Redo engine with 64 steps, memorizing all parameters.
So whenever you have a case of “wasn’t that much nicer a few seconds ago..?” simply tap the Undo icon (the backwards pointing arrow) and as soon as there is something to Undo, you get the Redo icon as well…
Once you realize “I can always go back…” you become much more adventurous and quickly experiment with alternate settings, etc.
Tip: Whenever you have something you feel has some interesting angle - don’t wait for it to become ‘perfect’, but rather save it as a preset (the Save icon in the upper right corner).
You can use Undo for many stages back and forward again as Redo, but realize that there are some inherent limits: As you use gestures, changing the many variables, it is hard to say what state is the next “worthy of Undo” - if we memorize every step, the 64 slots are used up in a few seconds, and all will look nearly identical.
So it tries to take every meaningful larger step and make it recallable. But it makes sense not to “rely” on Undo as a replacement for saving presets.
The images Frax produces can be generated at huge sizes - up to 50.3 Mpx ultra size posters at 8192x6144 pixels, however all the parameters are contained in a tiny file (the High Res Rendering options are accessed by tapping the Frax logo).
Frax comes with 42 built in examples that have fine tuned fx, color or light animation, which can be an inspiration and show the wide range of possibilities:
You reach them via the icon in the upper left corner. Note: it even works ‘blind’- tap once even if the interface is hidden, no need to wait for the icon.
Once you select a preset, you switch to the view that shows a single preset at full size:
You can now look at them all in sequence up close:
Tip: The arrows left and right advance manually, but you can also swipe sideways, to see them at any speed you like.
Note: The title and comment panel has some interesting suggestions for the factory files, have a look and try a few, you might be surprised.
Note: There is a thin little progress bar shown under the title is something you should wait for before swiping instantly to the next and next and next ;) The image has to be prepared for the animation effects to play out live… often with very surprising results! Usually it is only a couple of seconds.
If you like what you see, use the checkmark at the bottom, it means “I want to use this one!" and you jump out of the previews back into the real Frax. Now you can use the file, zoom, pan, etc.. :)
You can return to the album view via the upper left.
Tip: if you do nothing at all, after a while the interface will fade away and the presets will advance quietly by themselves.
The more advanced version of such a background slideshow is of course “Flow”, under the logo menu. It has a speed control under Settings and adds slow zoom, pan and rotation, and another 25 scenes of its own (100 for Frax Pro!)
Tip: consider hooking up via an HDMI cable or Airplay to show your iPad or iPhone on a large screen. Frax in Flow or this slideshow mode can look quite amazing on a huge plasma TV ;)
There is definitely more coming in that direction!
Save & Share
The upper right corner has an icon for the Save & Share options, which is symmetrical to Load in the upper left.
There are quite a few important functions here, worth going into some detail…
Basically they all deal with the Frax preset data file containing all the parameters, including animation.
You can either save it locally, send it to a friend, share it with other Frax users in the cloud or post it to Facebook or Twitter accounts.
And there are two functions that render real images from the data, either low-res locally or high-res in the Frax Cloud…
So let’s go through these in more detail one by one:
As you tap the Save icon, the upper right option is Add to My Frax, probably the most used operation.
The idea is simply: whatever you currently see on the screen can be saved and recalled later.
That includes the location in the Mandelbrot or Julia set, the color gradient used and all its custom settings for hue, brightness, contrast, blur, loop, etc, all the light details - position, height, gloss, reflection, etc - as well as the many variables for Texture. Also saved is the data describing the current animated settings: the panning direction and speed, the zoom speed, rotation, color phase and light positions - altogether over 100 features and functions are all saved in a tiny file locally in your device. At 3KB in size you could have many thousands in the space of a couple of photos.
The other two icons in the top row are both creating images from the current Frax preset. But there is a big difference between them…
Save Image is a medium resolution picture, rendered and stored locally in the Photo Gallery on your device.
Note: Actually, it will be saved to the ‘Camera Roll’, the dialog “Frax would like access to your Photos” is defined by Apple and is quite misleading: we have absolutely no intention of reading files or viewing images, but only to SAVE the Frax image.
The second icon allows you to create much higher resolution images, and they are computed in the cloud, stored there, and a link sent to you in email.
This Pro Quality Image option is a so called In-App-Purchase: you can buy credits for the lowest allowed price of 99 cents (or equivalent in other currencies) and render varying numbers of images at three different resolution settings.
See the Frax Cloud page for full details.
And while we are on the topic, there is another icon that deals with this: the Frax Cloud access.
Users who have already upgraded to Frax Pro can share and download new presets with other Frax users in the Frax Cloud.
A great way of discovering thousands of new Frax presets and honing your Frax skills!
Frax Pro users can also access the 50.3 Mpx ultra resolution rendering option in the Frax Cloud.
More details here.
The remaining four icons are all about sharing your Frax preset in various ways.
The Facebook and Twitter icons will allow you to share a your Frax image with friends and followers.
Note: you first need to connect your device to the Twitter or Facebook services via the Settings app.
Other services like Tumblr, Pinterest, G+ and more can be accessed from the gallery webpage, once you have uploaded a Frax preset (Frax Pro users).
A bit more unusual are the last two options:
You can send what you see directly to a friend, via Email or texting it as an sms!
And it works quite automatically!
As you tap the green Message button, your current Frax file is uploaded to our cloud servers and a unique URL is generated for that preset.
You are then transferred into the iMessage program with the URL already embedded there. Just add the recipient and send it off… :)
Your friend will receive the message and when tapping the link, it will automatically open Frax, download the preset from the cloud and wake up to the exact same state that you had on your screen when sending it!
This can be great fun - you can bounce back files and modify them in turn, almost like playing a kind of Frax Chess ;)
When you use the Email icon, the same process happens, but first a preview image is rendered and then inserted into a blank email together with the cloud URL. Add your friend’s address, done…
The Frax Cloud is an online service that the app integrates with. There are two parts; high-resolution rendering and sharing presets in the online gallery.
Rendering in the Frax Cloud
Frax Cloud rendering allows the creation of much higher resolution images at extra fine quality (81x super sampling!), ideal for printing or final artwork.
High resolution cloud rendering is available to any Frax user who buys render credits via in-app-purchases. However, when you sign-up you get 5 free render credits so you can try 5 medium resolution renders, or one high and one medium resolution render for nothing!
To start with you need to create a free Frax Cloud account. Follow the prompts to enter your email address, username and password.
Note: make sure you enter the correct email address as download links for your rendered images will be sent to that account (we don’t spam!).
Once you have registered and logged in you will see the number of render credits available in your account, the rendering options and in-app-purchase links to buy additional render credits.
The 3.1 Mpx medium resolution and 12.6 Mpx high resolution rendering options are available for all Frax users. The 50.3 Mpx ultra resolution option is only available to the lucky Frax Pro users.
After tapping a button to buy render credits follow the Apple in-app-purchase prompts (you must have in-app-purchases enabled on your device and will be asked to enter your AppleID credentials for each purchase).
To submit a Frax Cloud render tap the button for the resolution you want. Your preset will be instantly uploaded and added to the render queue.
Note: It can take a few minutes to render your image depending on the resolution and demand.
Once the render is ready you will receive an email with a preview and download link for your high quality JPEG image.
Tip: The notification email will also have links to other recent cloud renders you have made, useful to keep!
Note: Your renders will stay on the Frax servers indefinitely so there is no rush to download a local copy of your images.
Tip: It is often a good idea to try a medium resolution render of your Frax before you splash out on a high or ultra resolution version.
Sometimes fine details not visible in the interactive app renderer can cause the final high quality image to differ from the in app version.
Note: you have full unrestricted ownership of the images you create via the Frax Cloud for personal or commercial use.
However, if you use Frax for a really cool project then we’d love to hear about it! :)
The second aspect of the Frax Cloud is the online gallery for Frax Pro users. This feature allows Frax Pro users to share their presets with other Frax Pro users. The presets are automatically rendered and will appear at fract.al/gallery
Frax Pro users can also browse and explore any preset shared in the gallery, a great way to find thousands of presets!
To share your presets in the Frax Cloud you need to signup and login to a free Frax Cloud account. Tap the Frax Cloud button and follow the prompts.
The title and comment for your preset is optional but other Frax users will appreciate witty or creative entries ;)
Tip: the username you choose for your Frax Cloud account will be the name listed by your presets in the gallery.
Tip: if you want to change your username, email or password scroll to the bottom of any Frax Cloud page and select the ‘Edit your Frax Cloud settings’
Flow is an extra “room” inside of Frax and it is not meant to generate and design as much as to present existing saved presets.
It is probably reminiscent of several other related references - an aquarium or screensaver mode, playing quietly as an ever changing background. One could also see it as a visual wallpaper projected at a performance or a club.
Flow is being fed fresh new frax scenes every 20 seconds or so and the key point is: they will then animate automatically, so a continuous moving and morphing image happens ‘all by itself’.
A key aspect though: you can instantly interact with these scenes using all the animation gestures - so as a new image pops up, that means you can fly in, rotate, pan, push the colors, move the lights around and still being fed fresh scenes all the time as well. There is a serendipity aspect of playing while sudden switches happen and all is new...
Several things to note on that:
First: if you ever see anything you really like, it only takes on tap to get the interface up, and the checkmark icon in the lower right says “Yes, I like it let me play with this one for real now!”
This is quite similar to the preset factory and user albums, where you can also go from one to the next to the next, and once you find what you like, the checkmark lets you “take it with you” as you return from the album views to the normal Frax.
Flow has the same left right arrow icons as the Load album view, one tap and you quickly skip to the next image.
Being able to interact via gestures means that the three buttons are needed to access all the possible gestures, Motion, Colors and Lights.
Note: Texture is not included, as those gestures are not animated. The checkmark is in that space.
Tip: the speed of that flowing stream can be adjusted in iOS > Settings > Frax where you have options from 3 to 360 seconds! So either it can change very quickly and barely animate at all, or it can trickle in just once every 6 minutes and then evolve and zoom, taking many hours to go through the built-in presets.
Also: you can change the source of the stream by tapping the icon in the upper left. Initially it uses 25 special Flow presets, (100 in Pro), which have color, lights and motion animation settings, including some very interesting special effects.
After you have seen that set you can also use the Factory presets, 42 (200 in Pro), and then you can also assign your own User folder as the source and create a custom sequence. Note that if there is no animation saved with your preset, Flow will add an automatic slight zoom, pan and rotation mix, but not Colors or Lights (you can switch the button and manually make them move of course)
One tap will bring the interface back, so you can switch the gestures or skip to the next/prev scene. It will gracefully retract all the tabs to reveal the full screen flowing mode again.
Tip: note that the UI elements also work blind if you tap the appropriate spots…! So you can tap in the side centers to skip fast, or the buttons to change from Motion to Coloring without ever even seeing the interface.
Note: To exit back to the normal Frax operation, you can either use the checkmark icon on the fourth button or tap the logo to use the menu to access other rooms directly.
Tip: If you have a large plasma, LCD or projection screen, you could use AirPlay to watch Flow as a huge backdrop wallpaper with unique effects. Set it to your user folder and make perfect files as you like them… More will happen in this area soon :)
Appendix: Device Speed for Frax
In case you wonder how your device compares.
Frax is making extreme use of both CPU and GPU and is also dependent on a fair amount of RAM, so some early devices do not have a GPU or too little RAM to make the engine work properly.
There is at least a 700% speed difference between and iPhone 4 and an iPad 4 for instance.
|iPhone 1, 2, 3G||not usable (GPU and RAM)|
|iPhone 3GS 4||not usable (GPU)|
|iPhone 4S||retina screen, fast|
|iPhone 5||retina screen, fastest|
|iPad 1||not usable (not enough RAM)|
|iPad 2||low res. screen, quite fast|
|iPad 3||retina screen, fast|
|iPad 4||retina screen, fastest|
|iPad Mini||low res. screen, fast|
|iPod Touch 2011||retina screen, fast|