AE Experiments:
3D Fractal Cloud
Dan Sollis: June 10, 2011

This psuedo-volumetric fractal cloud was built using only the built-in plugins in After Effects. It uses an evolving fractal noise source comp to "paint in" a 3D fractal, using multiple staggered and offset 3D layers.

It's a pretty cool effect, unfortunately it's limited by the nature of how it works. As it's using stacked layers in a 3D space, if you postion the camera too low, you'll see visual artifacts. Also, as you get closer in, you see the separation between the layers (creating an unpleasant "scanline" effect to it). I experimented with some techniques to try and reduce this, including adding a high frequency oscillation to blur the gaps between layers using motion blur, but nothing really solved this issue adequately. Render times and memory usage are quite steep with this too. This animation took 3 hours to render on my 2008 mac pro with 20GB RAM.

You can download the project file here.

Soundtrack: "Daughter (for sara)" by Conelrad