How to deal with very different sizes ? (for presenting a micro-technology process)


I would like to make a film for presenting micro-technology processes in the fabrication of a laser diode chip.

There are objects of very different sizes : the wafer is 50 mm large and the thickness of the quantum wells is 8 nm. So there is a ratio of about 10 millions between the biggest interesting size and the smallest interesting size…

I want to do a lot of “zoom in” and “zoom out” effects between the millimeter scale, the micrometer scale and the nanometer scale…

In Blender, shall I model the objects with their real size ? (taking 1 Blender Unit = 1 mm and 0.000001 Blender Unit = 1 nm). Or shall I use a trick to fake the zoom effects ? (which trick ?)

Best regards,


Blender does not allow for so many decimal numbers. I think you have two options, either use the trick to fake a zoom effect like you say or make 1 Blender unit = 1 nanomilimeter and 1.000.000 Blender units be = 1 milimeter.

I see that another limitation is the maximum clipping distance of the camera (5000 BU)

Outch, camera limitations did not occur to me. How about this: make the small chip 1 Blender unit square and the big chip 1000 or 100 Blender units square. Now animate the small chip going on top of the big one and at the same time being scaled down to 0.001 size. Maybe like this people will have a better notion of the huge difference.

Don’t have such a large image size variation. You’ll only cause yourself problems trying to manipulate the scene. Just have different scenes for the large and small sections with some fade transition when you go from one scene to another. You can do all this in the blender video sequencer or node compositor. You don’t have to use just one single take. Split any animation up into manageable segments.

Yeah, maybe Richard’s hint is the better way to go. It is a huge difference to illustrate in just one shot…

I faced a similar problem illustrating some quantum computing technologies – to do a zoom of the magnitude you describe would either take so long as to be completely boring, or be so fast as to make everything blur to a smeared-out streak. So, as suggested, fake it. I used a couple of lap-dissolves during moderate-speed zooms and made sure to include some references in each shot to show that the scale is changing, and approximately how much. Viewers fill in the “details” as a matter of course, since it’s a common cinematic technique.