Trapcode Tao

Fractal Displacement Group

The Fractal Displacement group controls the fractal noise pattern that is used to displace a path. The fractal noise defines how the mesh will be distorted in 3D space. The Fractal Displacement group is used for creating organic flowing shapes, abstract designs, distortions and manipulations across the path.

fractal_displacement_ui fractal_displacement

The Fractal Type pop-up menu allows you to choose the type of fractal noise map used to create displacement.

  • Regular: uses a normal Perlin noise fractal where octaves are added together.
  • Multi: works so that the higher octaves are only used for the higher altitudes, so the lower altitudes remain smooth. Useful for creating a landscape look where the lower altitudes are smoother valleys, and the higher altitudes are sharp, as if they were mountains.
  • SmoothRidge: produces more ridges with slightly smoothed edges.
Multi SmoothRidge: combines both Multi and SmoothRidge techniques to produce a landscape-like surface. These patterns tend to create a bubbly surface.

fractal Noise

Space sets the coordinate space for the fractal. It can be World (the default) or Segment. World means the regular XYZ space, the same coordinate system as everything else. Segment means the fractal is oriented (if Orient to Path is enabled) to how the path twists and turns. It also means that when moving a path, its Segment space is not affected so the fractal won’t be affected by moving the path in this mode (in World space mode it is affected by moving). The image below shows how segment space is related to the path. For more information on world space and segment space, refer to the Repeat Paths group page in the documentation.


The Amplitude value controls the intensity of the fractal's displacement on the path. The farther this number is from 0, the more displacement will occur along the path.


The Frequency of the fractal determines how many times the pattern is repeated in the geometry of the path. This could be looked at as 'scale' or 'detail'. Higher values create more detail in the fractal noise, since the pattern is scaled down and repeated more in the path.


Evolution changes the evolution of the fractal noise along the path by altering the fractal pattern from a different seed point. Evolution can be keyframed to animate the fractal evolving smoothly over time. Offset X, Y, Z moves the fractal along one axis, X, Y or Z, based on the coordinate space chosen in the Space pop-up menu. Each Offset control moves the fractal pattern along the path in the direction specified. This can be used to simulate the effect of wind or gravity affecting the displacement. Note that when in Segment space using Offset Z will move the fractal along the path. Complexity defines the number of noise layers that are used in the Perlin noise fractal. Increased Complexity values tend to add more detail to the displacement.


Oct Scale (Octave Scale) defines how scale is affected for each noise layer. The default 2.0 means each octave has twice the frequency of the one before. As with Complexity, higher values add more detail. Oct Mult (Octave Multiplier) sets how much influence each octave has. The default 0.5 means each octave has half the influence of the previous. Higher values add more detail to the noise. Since the fractal will affect normals as well as geometry it can sometimes create undesirable results by adding too much detail to the normals. Smoothen Normals smoothes the normals from the fractal only, and does not affect the geometry.

Seamless Loop

This group is used to create animated fractal displacement that loops seamlessly. It has individual settings for each fractal dimension and also a Loop Setup Helper to set those settings automatically.   Use Seamless Loop Helper set the below settings and create a loop automatically. To use this, first setup the movement of the fractal using the Evolution and/or the Offset X, Offset Y and Offset Z settings. Then move the current time indicator to one frame after the desired end of the loop. Then press the Set End Frame button. The four values below will be calculated based on how Evolution and Offset X, Y, Z are changing over time and create a seamless looping fractal from the first frame to the current frame (meaning the first frame and the current frame will look exactly the same, so the current frame should be moved to one frame beyond the loop, or else it would be repeated).   NOTE: In order to avoid jumps in looping animations, it is important that the animated values have enough disparity between them. If you are experiencing jumps upon the loop after following the above instructions, try creating a larger gap between starting and ending values. Loop Evolution sets the distance for Evolution when it should loop. Let’s say you have keyframe Evolution from 0 to 500 and you want to create a seamless loop for this movement. In this case you would set Loop Evolution to 500 to create a seamless loop.   Loop X, Y Z offsets the fractal in X, Y and Z (respectively) when those parameters should loop. These parameters can be used to manually create a seamlessly looping animation in the same way as Loop Evolution.

Individual Amp & Freq

This group is used to change the amplitude and frequency of the fractal displacement by dimension. Amplitude X, Y, Z adjusts how much the amplitude of the fractal affects each direction. For example, set Amplitude X and Y to 0 to have the fractal only displace the path in the Z direction. Frequency X, Y, Z sets the fractal frequency for each axis dimension. Adjusting the Frequency by X, Y and Z axis will allow you to compress or expand the detail of the Fractal in a specific direction. X moves horizontally or left to right, Y moves vertically or up and down, and Z moves front to back in the depth of the scene.