Brandon Davis specializes in the kind of computer animation you don't hear about much and may not even really notice: particle effects. Water, smoke, light and other effects that simulate processes. "This is procedural animation, as opposed to character animation," explains Davis, who joined the Santa Maria, Calif.-based 3-D animation house Computer Café last December. Davis, 28, first hooked up with the company when he freelanced there while working on sm oke effects for Armageddon. Now he's doing particle work on spots for McDonald's and others, and last month he won the Kinetix-Discreet image contest with this scene, which was created as the cover art for a software package called Afterburn. "The only remarkable thing about the image is that it's 100 percent procedural," he says. "Nothing is created in a paint package. The clouds are volumetric. It's all done by layering fractal algorithms together." Uh , OK.