Scott Draves software and artwork updates, public appearances, photographs, and mindless link propagation.

December 27, 2006

Sheep on Digg

300 Amazing Computer Generated Images (and can become your screensaver)

Electric Sheep is a free, open source screen saver run by thousands of
people all over the world. It can be installed on any ordinary PC or
Mac. When these computers "sleep", the screen saver comes on and the
computers communicate with each other by the internet to share the
work of creating morphing abstract animations known as "sheep".
savingadvice savingadvice submitted 1 day 21 hours ago in Design

   1. savingadvice +11
      main page for screensaver info:

         1. ifonly -22
            Who the hell uses screensavers these days?

         2. caddoo -14
            Losers called Jack
            Anyway I agree with WomunOfColour it is very distracting.

         3. dshPls -13
            I'd rather get punched in the balls than look at
            fractals...this shit is exactly what went wrong with
            DeviantART. Kids figured they could make pseudo art with a
            program, and flooded the gallerys with that and chuck
            norris "sigs"

            Fractal design is the crux of those without creativity.

         4. kLacK +0
            Now if only the screen saver would change my resolution to
            the match the resolution of the video it wouldn't look so

         5. Ryosen +12

            Really? Try programming them sometime. And I'm not
            referring to Mandelbrots and Julians, either. Try some
            procedural texturing and cloud generation, both of which
            draw on fractals, or fire, smoke and land formations. Then
            come back and tell us how it doesn't require any talent or

            In the meantime, I'll be more than happy to help you out
            with the getting kicked in the balls part.

         6. mrsaturn +4
            Fractals are hardly what "went wrong" with DeviantArt--at
            least they can be aesthetically pleasing. On the other
            hand, the huge influx of amateur anime, furry, and
            inflation (search for it) "art" much earlier in devart's
            history are what I would largely blame for its
            downfall. Then again, I've seen devart assaulted by a
            variety of artistically questionable scourges and trends
            over the years.

         7. mrsaturn +2
            dhsPLS wasn't talking about programming fractal
            generators, he was talking about using them to produce
            art. All you have to do is tweak the variables until you
            come up with something that looks cool. It's a big
            shortcut to producing abstract art. Then again I wouldn't
            say that Pollock's work was technically challenging to
            make either, but it is still highly regarded by many.

            That said, Photoshop makes it trivial to perform hundreds
            of different techniques that would otherwise be extremely
            difficult or impossible to do by hand. Is that cheating?
            Does it matter? Are the visual aesthetics not the same
            regardless of the methods employed?

         8. shmatt -2
            To an extent.

            Some of these are nice, but I still think a fractal is a
            fractal. It's a really cool way to express equations, it
            is not in any way an expression outside of mathematics. If
            want to call it art, you can, but I define art as human
            expression, not a machine doing calculations

            To each their own, I havent thumbed anyone down for liking
            this stuff.

         9. MeatBiProduct +1
            programming itself is considered a fine art - look it up.

   2. WomunOfColour +16
      I had Electric Sheep as my screensaver for a while, but then I
      realized it was very distracting and lowered my
      productivity. You can vote up or vote down 'sheep' by pressing
      the up or down button, respectively. Everyone's votes work as a
      sort of natural selection, weeding out the bad sheep and
      propagating the good ones. There are also random mutations, so
      the sheep keep evolving into more beautiful fractals. It's like
      a giant neural network.

         1. weprin +6
            I think there is a lot of untapped potential here. Voting
            on the prettiest animation is only just one small use of
            this technique for using the collective inputs of
            thousands (potentially millions!) of people to maintain

         2. senfo +13

            I think you might be on to something. Somebody should
            invent a social networking website that lets its its
            members digg or bury stories posted by other members of
            the site. Why hasn't anybody thought of this before!!?

         3. gwinerreniwg +4
            I had problems with it sucking up all of my home-network's
            bandwidth when one of the PCs wasin screen saver
            mode. After a few weeks of weird performance issues, I
            finally narrowed it down to Electric Sheep as the
            culprit. As cool as the "sheep" look, I've uninstalled for
            this reason.

         4. Osiriscky3 +1
            actually it uses Bit Torrent which if you had looked in
            the preferences once you would have noticed that you could
            change the programs bandwidth usage. Maybe uninstall was
            more up your alley.

   3. dusco -26
      looks like some crap some kid made.

         1. ardenr +7
            Haha, I wish I could see the look on your kid's face when
            he comes home from Kindergarted, and you tell him that.

            Anyway, kids grow up, (most of them at least), so does
            this. Way to miss the point.

         2. mtappenden +7
            I saw a kid once

   4. Tordenflesk +1
      Ah, reminds me of when i first discovered digg
      (Hint: this is ooold)

         1. akira117 +1
            Ditto this is very old, but deserves the fount page since
            it is such a good program.

         2. underrun -1
            It's nnnnew to me so digg.

            I evaluated the fact that the site has existed for a while
            but realized quickly that I didn't care.

         3. Osiriscky3 +0
            STFU NOOB

   5. anicejew -18
      This is very creepy that computers are becoming smart enough to
      create artificial art.

         1. Tordenflesk +9
            Not really, It's just bunch of random 3d-rendering.

         2. TroubleInMind -8
            Computers can't create anything. They are passive
            machines. Software engineers create things. Sometimes they
            are crap. Like this is.

         3. DreKor +5
            They're not being smart at all. These computers, like all
            others, are just following their algorithms. The
            intelligence in this model comes from people voting these
            "sheep" up or down (a la digg). If people like something
            that the computer has made then the computer keeps doing
            that. If people dislike it, then they tell the computer to
            change a variable and resubmit the "sheep" for approval.

         4. codemonkey2841 +2
            It isn't technically art in the classical sense of the
            word, they are fractals which are simply mathematically
            generated patterns.

         5. IzeasGT +0
            This is what, the third time I've recommended Out of
            Control on Digg?  Good stuff. Read

   6. drwtsn32 -10

   7. trp642 -2

   8. Mininday -3

   9. goltoof -2
      Sounds interesting, i could use a new wallpaper. But the site
      won't load for me :(

  10. SOAB +2
      Gezzzzzzz it's back... :-/
      It's been here, done that.

      Still cool though.

  11. ez4me2c3d -2 only shows thumbnails, not really a practical way
      to preserve this type of art.

  12. adragontattoo +2
      awesome program, I have been using it for a few years on
      different PC's. A few of the teachers at my job use it to teach

         1. fac51 +2
            Agreed, I have Electric Sheep on all of my PC's and it's fantastic.

            Some of the designs are truly beautiful to watch and as
            they change over time and the 'sheep ' come and go you
            will never get bored of any one screensaver.

            Also the fact you can use the up and down keys to vote on
            each saver (if you wish) means that bad looking designs go
            away quicker. all in all a big thumbs up from me!

  13. aelias +4
      Wish the app ran in Hi-Res. :(

      Bonus points for using bit torrent as a distribution model for
      the algorithm.

      I've been running this for months, and am continually pleased
      with what it spits out.

      It's constrained evolution mixed with democracy. They should try
      this in Washington.

  14. mattloaf1 +9
      Anyone notice that most people call their desktop background
      their "screensaver"?

         1. xmetal2001 +3
            If you are referring to electric sheep, it IS a screen
            saver. Check out the whole site.

  15. tikitechi -3
      I was going to say the same thing, since when did Wallpaper
      (YOUR DESKTOP BACKGROUND IMAGE) become a "ScreenSaver" If
      anything wallpapers were screenkillers back in the day as they
      were the cause of many a burned CRT :) Hence the need for a
      ScreenSaver or MOVING image Monitor blanker.  I remember I had
      this monitor in a server room that clearly had a picture of
      someones dog burned into it, looked kinf of creepy.

         1. PDubNYC +6
            Electric Sheep IS A SCREEN SAVER.

            The thumbnails are just snapshots of the various designs it does.
            But thanks for the history lesson

         2. WarpFox +4
            electric sheep is defidently a screensaver. although I
            constantly hear people using incorrect terminoligy like
            "my internet provider? i use internet explorer." or "can
            you download that to a disk for me?" I dont think this was
            the case in this instance :)

         3. tikitechi +2
            Good examples too. No one knows the word upload.  Another
            good one is I am always being asked to "download the
            latest version of office to my CPU" CPU and PC seem to be
            interchangable to people, even when I subtly correct them
            by then referring to the PC as a PC, they keep using
            CPU. We have quite a few people who dont understand that
            the monitor and the PC are two different things. As in "Is
            your pc on?" :) Im sure we could all go on and on about
            this and write a book ANyway, I know its a screensaver,
            and a good one. Just musing on silliness that the story
            made me think of.

         4. mikesbaker +0
            i was doing a lot of dvd creation and of course had to
            leave the computer running for a long time. the program
            that I used burned into my LCD. Thankfully after a couple
            of days it went away but for a while I thought that I
            would have to buy a new monitor.

         5. doctorcaligari +2

            Alot of people at my job call the computer a "modem". I
            get calls like "my modem won't take my password" while I
            sit there and try to figure out what they are talking

  16. weprin +13

         1. invader +1
            speechless? c'mon.. they're not _that_ """Amazing"""...

         2. Quadduc +1
            I laughed.

  17. OrlyonokEaglet -2
      this is terrible, digg should show different front page stories
      to different visitors or something, every link is dead slow

         1. munkyxtc +0
            yeah, it's been sitting here just spinning its wheels for over 5 mins

  18. leberama -2
      OK, I'm getting tired of front page stories that can not support
      the traffic. I'm clicking on bury.

         1. underrun +0
            Try clicking on Google cache or a download mirror. It
            might be a better use of your time.


  19. kaniz +3
      This is a great screen saver, been running it for a long time
      now. The only problem is that it can become a bit distracting at
      times. There has been a few times I've been watching TV or a
      Movie and caught a glimpse of my screen in the distance and
      ended up spacing out on the screen saver for a few mins and
      ignoring whatever I was watching before.

      I had quite a few gigs worth of the sheep downloaded, so there
      were lots of really smooth transitions / etc between loops and
      didn't see the same things repeated too often.

  20. BarriedaleNick +1
      Other download link if you are interested..

  21. TheMadCow +1
      I wish we could vote to bury all the pissing whiners who have
      nothing better to do but bitch and whine about this thing or
      that thing not being what they want...

      Digg is like some horrible anti-crack, you have to read comments
      - but you want to strangle the sh*t out of 90% of the assclowns

         1. underrun -2
            That might be a type of thread troll spawn. Do they have a
            name yet? I'm not creative enough to think of

  22. boomwad +0
      how long does it take for the first "sheep" to download? I've
      been waiting quite some time...?

         1. Osiriscky3 +1
            soon my child soon...

  23. Quadduc +1
      The stills are nothing to the animations. The animated "sheep"
      are truly fascinating. My only complaint is that the animations
      are a bit noisy (a result of the rendering method). Noise adds
      unnecessary complexity to the data, which results in less
      efficient video compression. If the animations are rendered with
      more iterations (requiring more CPU time), they will have less
      noise. That's not a reason not to try it out, though. I will
      keep this one as my choice of screensaver for some time.
Posted by spot at December 27, 2006 10:19 PM
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