Animating Cells

I’m not sure what category to post this under, as it falls under a few, feel free to move this to a more appropriate thread.

I’m trying to create a scene that takes place under a microscope lens. There are free floating cells, which I hope to animate using Boids particles for crowd-simulation. There is also a transformation from the basic cell, into a neuron cell, a more complicated cell with tendrils. I’ve seen a tutorial by Jonathan Williamson about using shape keys to morph a sculpted head of a human into a sculpted head of a werewolf which seems pretty useful, except that you need the same amount of vertices. To create the tendrils of the neuron cell, I would need to use dynamic topology to stop the snake hook tool from breaking the mesh, this unfortunately would leave me with a low poly basic cell, and a higher poly neuron cell, which I understand would be unable to perform a transformation. I’m stuck on how to complete this scene, any tips, tricks or tutorials that would assist me would be greatly appreciated!

I think you should make a full copy of your original scene, exchange the basic cell particle object for a transformed cell, and then do a simple ‘fade’ between the two ( or three or four ) scenes in the sequence editor

That’s a simple solution, but it’s nowhere near as realistic as I’d like. I’d like to animate the transformation from one object to another. If shape keys aren’t the way to go about it, then what is?

Use shape keys to shape both cells to a common shape.

Cell #1 to common shape -> common shape to Cell#2 You don’t need the same number of vertices you just have to shape them both to a common shape.

you could just start high poly, i guess.

What if you use the particle system to deploy an animated group (i.e. tendril) across the surface? In this example I am only using a cube for the tendril so you may need to model something a little more convincing, but the animated growth setup is demonstrated. The growth is achieved by animating the empty. You also could animate the array count number as well.


26_possible_cell_setup.blend (109 KB)

So if I have the basic cell, and then create the neuron from that same model, just adding the tendrils, it could work, because it’s starting with a common shape?

That can be really resource heavy though, and if at all possible, I’d like to avoid it.

More complicated solution than I was hoping for. :frowning:

Dang Eeyore, there is no pleasing you.:smiley:

The particle system, I think, is the simplest and most light weight solution. And I can tell by the download count of zero that you did not even look at it.

I figured out a solution that doesn’t involve shape keys. I created the tendrils as separate objects, and I will key them sliding out of the cell body.