PyCUDA implementation of a GPU-accelerated fractal flame renderer.
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This project is a fractal flame renderer, similar to flam3, built for CUDA GPUs. It also includes a new blending system, the ability to perform spline-based animation of individual parameters over time, and new, HDR-aware filtering mechanisms. The overall result is a distinctive, dreamlike atmosphere — rendered up to one hundred times faster than CPU.

This project is licensed under the GPL version 3.

Getting started

To use cuburn, you'll need the following dependencies:

  • A CUDA-compatible graphics card with SM 2.0 (GTX 400 series) or newer
  • A recent CUDA toolkit (at least v4.1) and drivers
  • pycuda
  • numpy
  • scipy
  • tempita
  • Maybe some other stuff, I'll come back to check later

Perform a git checkout of cuburn, cd to cuburn's directory, and run

python -g input.flam3

... and your GPU will start rendering your fractal flame, saving the results to the current home directory. is the primary interface to cuburn, and it includes built-in help; run python --help to find out what it supports.

Once the program runs, check out the sample flock for more details on the design of the JSON flame format and how to use it to manage and render a collection of flames.

Differences between flam3 and cuburn

Gorgeous, fluid interpolation

Erik Reckase and Vitor Bosshard came up with a phenomenal new approach to applying the typical rotational parameter interpolation used by flam3's animation system, which served as a template for the current spline-based system used by cuburn (which Erik also worked on). The result can literally stop you in your tracks when you see it, and I'm thrilled to have been able to implement their ideas.

Everything is an animation

Cuburn is built for beautiful, fluid animations, and the interface is built with that in mind. If you want a single image — no motion blur, no velocity interpolation — you can pass the --still argument to any cuburn command that accepts profile arguments.

Temporally-aware, graphical, JSON-encoded flame representation

Cuburn can read flam3-style XML flame descriptions, but it really shines when used with its native JSON dialect. This method of representing flames has temporality in every expression, and was designed from the ground up for nondestructive composition and blending, so that everything from individual frames to composed sequences to entire flocks can be lovingly tended by a community of artists and editors.

The format is also amenable to composition with less directed input, such as that produced by a genetic algorithm, which can add variety and spark inspiration without destroying the original intent or severing the "anchor points" which tie a flock together.

It still needs a frontend to realize this humanely, so right now this might as well be vaporware.

Output profiles

Cuburn separates the description of the underlying mathematical system from the particulars of rendering. Instead of containing information such as output resolution within the flame XML, cuburn allows flames to specify the camera in terms of IFS coordinates, and then applies an output profile to convert camera coordinates to image-space coordinates for rendering.

Filtering parameters and sampling patterns are done the same way, and in almost every case, parameters are continuously-valued. This means that the same splines which allow animators complete control over the movement of the frame can be used to describe its filtering relative to the other sheep in a flock.

Totally revised filtering

I sat down with a notebook and a laptop running Maxima, and came out with some weird, inefficient shear-sampled hybrid directional-bilateral-gradient nonsense filter and a new tone-mapping algorithm that intentionally adds spatial distortion around clipped regions. Looks great, tho.