“SCInema Event” by Liquid Design Group

  • ©Jeff Linnell  Liquid Design Group

  • ©Jeff Linnell  Liquid Design Group



    SCInema Event


Company / Institution / Agency:

  • Liquid Design Group


    SCInema Event is a 20-second movie open for the Thursday night feature on the Sci-Fi Channel. The creative impetus was the idea of witnessing a sci-fi moment. Dee Bregers’ book, Journeys in Microspace, a collection of scanning electron microscope imagery, provided the aesthetic inspiration for the piece. The result is a journey through an alien terrain that reveals itself as a familiar object, a kernel of popcorn.

    In response to an email request to the Microscopy Society of America, many microscopists around the world volunteered to help with the animation. The team began the production process by photographing samples with a scanning electron microscope, mounting the samples on a rotating stage, and shooting at 90-degree increments. Microscopists photographed the objects at incremental magnifications (10x – 10,000x) so that detailed texture maps could give way to lower resolutions as the CG camera pulls away from the objects. After scanning the photographs, the animators mapped the textures onto primitives in Softimage. Hardware texture mapping in the shaded window was used to model the primitives interactively and create the rough geometry for the scene. Mental Ray displacement and spatial subdivision techniques yielded a high level of detail in the scene geometry.

    A unique characteristic of electron microscopy is highlighted edges. This effect was replicated in the compositing stage by rendering an edge pass. A negative light source constrained to the camera, high-scene ambient lighting, and a Lambert shading model created an edge illumination pass that is uniform on all sides of the object. This created a matte that could then be used to additively composite the beauty image over itself to complete the lighting effect.


    Mental Ray

Additional Contributors:

    Roger Guillen, Sean Eno, Walter Lubinski, Scott Sindorf, Craig Gitman, Brett Miller, Ed Manning, Shinping Cody Chen, Nestor Zaluzec, Roy Nelson, Dee Berger, Cliff Schwartz

Animation / Video Overview: