Vol Libre: The First Fractal CGI Movie

1979 to 1980

Having read Benoît Mandelbrot's 1977 book, Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension, which described geometry of natural rough rather than smooth shapes, Loren Carpenter created a two-minute color film called Vol Libre to showcase his software for rendering realistic mountains and landscapes using fractal geometry at a SIGGRAPH conference in 1980. This was the first application of fractals in a computer-generated imagery (CGI) film. Production of each frame of the film required about 20-40 minutes of computing time on a VAX-11/780 computer. Prior to this film realistic animation in films had to be done by hand, frame by frame.

Timeline Themes

Related Entries

Fractals: Form, Chance and Dimension: