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Fractal Zoom

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Full disclosure - this is over my head - but I had to learn.  And, it's an anecdotal post, sharing bits of history, cool images, and stuff. Perhaps a window into why I'm so "the way I am..."


When at Autodesk in the 80s, 90s, and early part of this century..., I spent 6 of those years setting up a world-class SWQA organization (My coding skills were not at the level of the wizards, there.)  (Our internal mantra among close-in team members, PC CAD has to work.  "If a bridge/building/part is designed and built/manufactured with AutoCAD, and it fails, people die.  There's no reason we can't get it right.")  Someday over a beer, ask me how we tested the fractal generator in AutoShade… (read on).


One day, when rendering a cad model on the PC was the next edge to push, the founders led by John Walker produced a new product called AutoShade.  It took a DWG file with a new entity type (3DFace), and rendered the model (of faces) in 3D.  It was an early product and it was eventually included in AutoCAD as a feature, then expanded (through new product development and acquisitions) into products and offshoots like AutoFlix (key framer) Kinetix, 3D Studio MAX, Chaos Theory, and now Maya and more Shader features..., There are more products and tools I've forgot about, and far beyond my work while there.   But in the seminal product AutoShade, the smart founders coded in a simple Mandlebrot set to let users expand their thinking on this new math from Benoit Mandlebrot.  I'm sure that the founders were already designing in their minds what had to happen to develop rendered modeling products well beyond the lines, arc, circles and geometry-based CAD systems historically had automated the legacy paper-based drawing documentation approach.


I could only find a picture of the Chinese translated version of the product (AutoCAD and all Autodesk products at the time were translated in FIGS at first ship, and all other Latin/euro Cyrillic, and Asian languages in 3-6 months.  Good design made that possible.)



As Rich notes, this has come a long way.


Early images in our product in the last century, and it "RAN ON A PC..., with limited memory" looked like, and were limited to this type of Mandelbrot set. 



And now Maya does things like this:



Some of this technology is used to develop shaders for materials like hair, fur, the effects of wind. …, Hollywood modeling we've all seen in the movies since the Terminator movies (the silver/mercury/fluid alien was done with Autodesk technology) - and on much more powerful multi-core computing platforms.


Here's a reference to the Maya product Madelbrot modeling, different sets and affectors, and so on.



One of the principle founders of Autodesk, John Walker, continues to produce.  He lives in Switzerland now (last I checked).  And has a comprehensive website of his work, past history, and even Autodesk, Inc., the first decades of success (www.fourmilab.ch).   My just looking at this topic found that he has posted a paper on Fractals observed in nature - in this case, food.  Check this image and paper out for a stretch of the mind and what Benoit Mandelbrot had discovered, and how it applies to Fractals in Nature (a title of one of his books, I believe).



Here's a link to that paper on "Fractals Food: Self Similarity on the Supermarket Shelf."



Edited by AndrewJohn
typo "May" should have been "Maya"
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18 hours ago, jvandyke_texas said:

Typically, the false color seen in the Mandelbrot set represents the number of iterations required for convergence.


Most of the original code did that; just cycled through a palette until it hit the escape point.  I remember coding my Amiga and letting it run while I was at work; The first runs could almost finish a full screen render in about 8 hours, but trying to zoom in was horrible; no GUI so you had to enter coordinates and guess/hope that they centered on something interesting (more likely a 1/4 screen or so of black pixels).


I think things like fractint (DOS) finally got into plasmas and material rendering, and their predictive algorithms sped things up quite a bit.


Now you can zoom in and out in real time (for quite a few) and can render surfaces, manifolds and all kinds of juicy stuff.

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