Biochemical Soul Musings on Nature, Science, Evolution, Biology, and Education


The Firefly and the Deer – “Moonbeam Death Ray”

Since, it seems that I've been on an art post kick for the last two days, I thought I'd toss one more out for you. This is on oldie for me, but I'm betting that few if any of my current readers have seen it.

Way back in 2006, a buddy of mine (Joshua Robertson) was in a band called "Bronze Fawn," a progressive, instrumental group based in Seattle.

One of their songs (9 minutes in length) was called "Moonbeam Death Ray". Listening to it in the car one day, I had a "vision" (i.e. a cool idea).

I had just recently picked up a copy of the 3D computer animation software, Maya 7. So I thought, "what better way to learn to animate than by practicing with my idea for Bronze Fawn. I'm sure they will appreciate the surprise video!"

That, in essence, is how the following music video was made.

Josh was more than a bit surprised.

The video was written, directed, and animated by me with Maya 7 Unlimited. It took 200 hours over 4 months plus 600 hours of computer render time (i.e. I would set up the render and let my computer crunch out the stills while I was at the lab finishing my PhD). I modeled and textured the deer and firefly based on deer in my yard and fireflies I caught. I initially mixed the song down to its current 3 minutes length.

The YouTube version of this video has currently been watched about 478,000 times.

I have many, MANY problems with the animation (like some horrible deer movements, texture problems, lighting, etc...), but overall I was pretty happy with it for a first animation.

If anyone wants to learn animation - I say just do it.  Download the free and opensource Blender software and start doing tutorials!

My interest in animation started when I needed a good animation for my dissertation defense on frog heart development. This was the result (intended to be illustrative, NOT 100% accurate - and yes, that is what early Xenopus larvae look like):

And one more just for fun (no sound).

"Feeding Time"

You can see more of my animations HERE.


Biological Databases and the Logos I Designed

I recently designed a couple of logos for Dr. J. Christopher Ellis to adorn his biological database website. I thought I'd throw him a link as well as showcase the two logos I made.

The first is for the frontpage of his site I made this using the 3D animation software, Maya 7, and Flash. Note: if you click on the logo, there are three possible animations that will occur. I know next to nothing about flash animation, but I managed to get it so that it picks one of the three events at random. As such, you may have to click several times to see all three. Yes - they are completely pointless - but I wanted to learn at least a little ActionScript. The pixelation is due to resizing to fit into this blog.

I also designed the following logo for his snoRNP database. For those of you not in the know, snoRNP stands for "small nucleolar ribonucleoprotein", which bind to snoRNAs, or "small nucleolar ribonucleic acids". Together they are involved in modifying rRNAs, or "ribosomal ribonucleic acids", which are themselves part of the structure and function of the ribosome (your protein making machines).

So for those of you involved in snoRNA research, you may find his database useful. He also has a couple of applets for finding motifs within UTRs (untranslated regions). FYI: the sites are still in early construction.

The snoRNP Database


Flying Spaghetti Monster

3D animation of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This is a render that I modeled and animated in two nights. Bathe in the glory of his Noodly Appendages.

Created with the opensource Blender and the GIMP, and Adobe After Effects.

For you CG animators out there, I am providing the .blend file here. Do whatever you wish with it.

If you'll look in my sidebar, I also created a small animated GIF of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You may also snag this file. Here's the same GIF but with a white background. And here's a GIF on a black background. If anyone wants a version matched to a particular background color, I can make you one - no problem. Let me know if you want the movie itself or higher quality versions.