Biomedical Media + Illustration

Production Part I: First Shots Completed

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Forests of axons… and a lab mouse?


These past few months I’ve been learning to animate in Maya. It has been a process of overcoming a constant stream of technological roadblocks! But the euphoria of conquering each one makes for an enjoyable process nonetheless. Here are some of the scenes I was able to complete. [Note: they are from completely different segments of the final animation and not in chronological order.]

The first shot depicts the cellular environment of the spinal cord during the early stages of an MS-like lesion in mice. A little background for you: The colours I used to illuminate the different cell types in the scene correspond to the different microscope channels used in real multimodal video microscopy. The CARS channel (depicted in red) picks up myelin, while the TPEF channel can detect anything that has been fluorescently labelled. In this scene that includes the axons (yellow) and blood plasma exudate leaking through the blood brain barrier (bright red). In experimental practice, the signals from these channels are combined into complex multicoloured images of the spinal cord; so these scenes are a way of simulating this process in a dynamic 3D environment.

For this next scene I was able to take a bit of a break from my “axon forests”, and instead work on modelling and animating a mouse! This scene is nearer to the beginning of the animation. It introduces the MVM setup by schematically representing the different channels with colour-coding that will be carried throughout the animation (as you saw in the first scene above).

So many more to do, so little time. It’s back to work for me!