Why post-processing is evil

I know it's a dead issue, but I've never had a chance to speak on the matter and I feel like talking.

Like a master geometrician allow me to solve this question in a few simple steps and then quietly sit down.


Download parameter file evil2.loo

First, stop me if I'm wrong, but the beginning of all fractal images is the calculation of a series of two-dimensional (horizontal/vertical or x/y coodinates) points by carring out the instructions of the fractal formula (ie iterating it). This just creates alot of information, you can't see anything yet, it doesn't produce anything visual.

It's similar to a magnetic field. Imagine a magnet under a piece of paper. You don't see anything until you sprinkle some metal filings on the paper and the metal filings reveal the invisible pattern of the magnetic field. A magnetic field, alone, cannot be seen.

There, I'm done.

Okay, there's more. You can't see the output of a fractal formula: the millions of coodinate points. Our fractal, pure, serene and still living in the divine realm of mathematics has no clothes and looks just like the Invisible Man without his wrappings.

The next step, only the second one, is to "render" the huge map of x/y points. This is the same as deciding what we would like the invisible man to wear.

Just as we only see the clothes the Invisible Man wears; we only see the "clothes" the programmer dresses the fractal in.

It's that simple. But let me explain things another way.

Have you ever noticed how the same fractal formula with the same settings always looks different in every program? Well, why is that?

How a fractal is rendered to make it visible (that is to render it "graphically") is 100% artificial and arbitrary. It's entirely the decision of the programmer and is the style or method they've chosen. This of course is why there is more than one fractal program and why some are more popular than others. Making fractal programs, even simple ones, is a creative and not a mechanical activity.

In other words, all fractal images are artificial. We don't normally call them "post" processed because the processing is done in the fractal generator. But it's all post-processing. Which is to say, it's not determined by the fractal formula, it's independent of it. It isn't the generation of the fractal that produces the image but rather the arbitrary, artistic preferences of the programmer. What you see is never the math, only the artistic embellishment of the math.

Even if the calculation of a fractal formula was graphically rendered with a drafting plotter in the math department of a university it would still be a post-processed fractal image, just a very plain and uninteresting one.

Well, there you have it class. There are no natural fractal images, only post-processed ones.

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