Electric Sheep Survey

by David Burnett • Wednesday February 4th, 2009
Posted in Oxidizer Blog, Oxidizer Community

Spot is running a survey on the future of the Electric Sheep screen saver.


Those of you that run ES should nip other there a spend a minute or to giving your views.

For those scratching their heads Electric Sheep is a screen saver that displays fractal flame animations and is the original reason Oxidizer exists. I wanted to render stills from some of those flames for myself..



  1. paulk
         February 5, 2009

    Thanks for the heads-up, Dave!

    Wish I could get me one of them Dreams In High Fidelity boxes. But I suspect they’re out of my price range.

    Do you think Spot had any idea what he was starting back in 1992?


  2. ralf
         February 5, 2009

    I’d like to know how those hi-fi boxes work…

    Btw Dave, love the latest Oxi feature addition in CVS ;-)

  3. paulk
         February 5, 2009


    From the descriptions I’ve heard him give, they each have about a 100Gb database of rendered Hi-Def sheep loops that they string together in an endless, non-repeating sequence. Plus they play a lot slower than what we see in the screensaver so you get more time to admire the imagery-and that means there are a lot more frames. Sounds pretty awesome.

    No CVS yet for me – haven’t had time to do the whole XCode install thing yet. At this rate I may have to wait for Dave’s next beta…

  4. ralf
         February 6, 2009

    Que? Not sure I follow you: do you mean that all the frames are pre-computed? If so, they must loop around, no? Conversely, if the sequence is non-repeating, how can it be that unless it calculates new frames on the fly? I guess I’m confused… :-)

  5. paulk
         February 6, 2009

    Yes, they are pre-computed through distributed rendering by the computers running the screensaver. All of this is governed by the main server, which parses out the jobs, and collects the finished frames to create sequences. There are loop sequences, and edge sequences which are like transition clips between different sheep. The display program then assembles the loops and edges on the fly to generate an endless presentation.

    At least that’s my simplified understanding. :-) He’s got a brief video describing some of it here: http://blip.tv/file/1233576, there are others around with more depth.

  6. paulk
         February 7, 2009

    There’s another video here that explains a bit more:


  7. ralf
         February 7, 2009

    Interesting, thanks for the links. I wasn’t aware Scott Draves was such a philosopher :-)

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