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Lister

How to model cellular division?

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Lister    0

I have a very naive, newbie question. I'm not a CG artist but have dabbled with tools over the years in helping me illustrate biology (I'm a scientist). I looked at Houdini years ago but ended up going with softimage, and after autodesk killed it this past year I've decided to put my eggs in the Sidefx basket.

 

I'm comfortable with making static models, but in my new job I want to produce some animations of biological processes like embryological development. Since embryology proceeds by cellular division, I need to figure out how to show one object dividing into two, and on and on; you can see what I'm talking about at the beginning of the film Prometheus when the title first appears (after the tall alien consumes the biological agent that erodes his body, dumping him into the waterfall). But to make things more complicated, i would want to be able to control the generation of new cells so that the population follows a particular form- instead of an expanding ball made up of more and more cells, I would need the new cells to follow a plane or fill an irregular volume.

 

I know nothing about animation or effects, since up until now I've only ever had a need to model a solid, unchanging object. I'm not asking anyone to do any work for me, I just need to know what methods I should start learning so I know what kinds of tutorials to search for. In short I lack the vocabulary to even begin to figure out what I need to know. I wasn't even sure if this question would be better suited to the "Animation" subforum or the "Effects" subforum, so anything that would point me in the right direction, no matter how small, would be greatly appreciated.

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edward    331

Offhand, the first idea that comes to mind is to just model points/particles that mimic your cells. Now you can use VDB From Particle Fluid to create a surface out of them, with various shape controls.

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Rainroom    15

Here is a method in houdini demonstrating cellular automata to grow veins:
http://pepefx.blogspot.in/2013/05/a-few-days-ago-i-was-reading-this.html
 

In your case instead of growing veins you will perhaps need to procedurally move points to their destination and use VDB From Particle Fluid as edward has mentioned.

Edited by Rainroom

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Lister    0

Thank you for the replies, those venation techniques aren't quite what I'm looking for but eventually I'm going to want to model vasculature so they will come in handy (as will anything I pick up while I sort through them). I used a VDB node during a modeling tutorial so at least I know they exist and ought to be a good starting point.

 

And yes, I have a huge amount of learning to do!

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