microscopic zoom in shot - need help

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  11 November 2012
microscopic zoom in shot - need help

I'm working on an animation with a simple character, a bacterial cell. The video requires that I talk about how these things metabolize compounds at the molecular level, so here's what I'm trying to accomplish;

The shot needs to start with the bacteria ( a simple capsule shape with a tail and some hair like projections), then transition into one of those shots that's like zooming in (like you've seen where they go from space, to earth, to a person on the street). The surface of the bacteria doesn't have to be in any technical detail (chemical structure and the like), but should look like a bunch of spheres, representing the atoms or molecules that make up the surface of the cell wall.

How would you make this shot? It's way too many polygons for a simple max animation, but if I zoom in to a section with only a few thousand spheres, that section looks considerably different from the surface of the rest of the bacteria. Is there a way to comp some different renders to make the transition look smooth? How would you do it?
- Jeremy

  11 November 2012
Easiest way would be to create two shots and blend them in post.
Use proxies if yo're concerned about the polycount.
  11 November 2012
What about a texture over the capsule with a cell shader as a bump or displacement map?
Fernando Ferro
  11 November 2012
Thanks for the suggestion about using proxies, I'll give that a try. I did a few tests with displacement maps, but wasn't satisfied with the look. I'm concerned about blending the shots because of the difference in coloration caused by the shadows cast by the different spheres in the close up (assuming that I rendered a patch of spheres that I will zoom in on and try to blend into the surface for the pulled out shot).

I assume that some color correction will be necessary, but I don't know if it will be sufficient to make the transition look smooth. I'll create a few more test shots today and see if I can find a decent looking solution.
- Jeremy

  11 November 2012

I would just create two different scenes.

Make a scene in microscopic scale.Have all surfaces consist of spheres (i'd use Pflow or something like that) animate the camera here.

Then link the camera to a box.

Create another scene with the "other" world - just normal size. Then import the Camera with the box and scale the box up or down.

Now render them both and create a smooth transition between the two sequences just when it becomes invisible because the small scene is so tiny anyway. Just smoothly animate the visibility of the micro scene over the macro scene and it should work fine.

I've had problems with doing all this in one single scene - animation gets choppy because max isn't really precise if you zoom into "0,0000001" areas. And working with the viewport is also really hard if you zoom in too much - or out too much.
  11 November 2012
I appreciate the input. I'm building a close up shot with spheres to use as a proxy file, but I think I'll need to do it in three shots rather than two to get a decent look. I want it to look like it's going from a solid surface to a matrix of spheres without looking unnatural in the transition from one to the other.

I tried Pflow and a Scatter compound object, but I couldn't match up my dispersal with the texture map, and I couldn't get a sufficiently organic flow to the topology with either of those solutions, so I'm manually creating and placing spheres for the close up portion of the shot.

So far I've created about 4,000 geospheres which line up with the texture (which uses a radial gradient with a lot of tiling). The base mesh has a displacement to create a spheroid look to the spots, but they're not sufficiently spherical to get a very close look at. I've got to toy with a few more things, but I think I'm getting close.
- Jeremy

  11 November 2012
omg you handplaced 4000 spheres?

Seriously make sure that you find some scripts that help you out. Saves time!

For example all the random displace / rotate / move scripts from the blurscripts pack...

or this one might be really handy for you:


Scriptspot is a great source for stuff like this. Before you start a really tedious job by hand - make sure you search for a couple of keywords there!

good luck with your project.
  11 November 2012
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