Dendritic Cell

It’s late night Saturday night, which means its time to rev up Cinema 4D and see what I can do with it. Found this old model of a Dendritic cell from an old project. Dendritic cells are a component of the human immune system. I took the base model (shown below) displaced and smoothed a bit, then cloned the little white spheres (representing the antigens the cell presents to other immune cells) via the Mograph cloner object. A little subsurface scattering, transparency, ambient occlusion and the ever-present medical animation “floaties” and I’m beginning to get something interesting.

The low-res, untextured base model was built in Maya by another 3D artist, and then exported for use in Cinema 4D. Below is the low res model we started with.

Below are a few Dendritic Cell images found on the web which were used as reference:

Thanks for looking!

5 thoughts on “Dendritic Cell

  • Joel,

    This looks great.

    Is there a term (stylized or schematic?) for medical animation like this that has less detail than the reference image? I’m referring to the complexity of the base model. I’ve had a hard time trying to learn about this industry and it’s terminology online.

    Also, curious about your floaties. Are they done in cinema or with something like Particular in AE?


  • Hi Sean

    Thank you.

    Really sorry about the late reply–just noticed your post here.

    I’d say “stylized” is a good term to describe the approach above. If you are doing medical animation/visualization, you will find yourself applying some level of stylization to most jobs you do, especially when the purpose is to teach something complex in a way that the target audience will easily understand.

    Sometimes you will have clients that appreciate seeing every organelle or detail that would exist in a cellular environment or process, but more often you will be asked to simplify (whether its the model itself or the surface texture detail for instance) for the sake of clarity.

    Many clients in the pharma industry, whether researchers or marketing execs would have been more used to seeing such images or processes as schematic 2-d diagrams in a text book. A challenge I’ve found in this field is that sometimes you have to educate the client to accept a dendritic cell as a 3 dimensional image that actually moves around in space. Many have trouble getting past that: seeing these things coming to life in a 3 dimensional environment. Some are open and excited to see this kind of thing, some are very resistant.

    The “floaties” here are simple spheres and “hairs” (sweep nurbs) thrown into a cloner with a random effector applied. I have a rig I use and reusue and alter form job to job. I also approach this sort of thing in post using Particular as you mention. They are both good solutions. Maybe there’s a tiny bit more of a render hit doing them right in cinema, but you also avoid issues like objects passing in front of or behind particles in 3d space

    Hope this answered your questions.

    • Joel
      I would like to see a tutorial on your floaties environment and how you create and Modify it. Seems very versatile.. those floaties seem to show up everywhere. from Microscopic cell level to Underwater or even as space dust. Ideas a plenty now.. 8) thanks.

  • Hi Joel,

    Your work is very impressive! Great! I am currently preparing a web presentation about dendritic cell therapy and was wondering if you could help me with some images and/or video material…..
    Look forward to hear from you.
    Yolande Lorijn

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