This week, Science magazine have a special edition on Synthetic Biology, in which they: “explore the breadth of this field and how the construction of new biological systems might be harnessed to serve humanity”.
And they feature our illustration on the cover! This is where art, science and Lego combine…. Synthetic biology is a field close to our heart, and we’ve previously worked on a range of illustrations and animations.
Windfall Films is one of the leading producers of science & technology programmes, and their science documentaries consistently breathe life into potentially dry subjects.
They hired us to produce a series of animations to help explain the concept of Epigenetics, whereby chemical markers on DNA can switch genes on and off – and these markers can be inherited. Environmental pressures on a parent can lead to adaptation in the child. So it’s not just about which genes a child inherits – their traits can be dictated by which of those genes are activated or suppressed.
Enough science, bring on the pretty stuff…
Clip 1) Clip showing genes in a DNA section switching on an off;
Clip 2) The concept of the Epigenome – chemical markers on the backbone of the DNA which control the expression/suppression of genes;
Clip 3) This sequence shows DNA coiling around support structures called histones, which then further coil into a compact superstructure (eventually the DNA will be would up still further into chromosomes). The structure is “scanned” which represents the reading of the DNA. “Histone deacetylation” causes the structure to compact tighter, making some of the DNA inaccessible, and leading to read failures (i.e. non-expression of that gene).
Clip 4) Methylation is shown here, whereby a carbon with three hydrogens (methyl group) attaches to specific points on the DNA backbone, and this chemical marker prevents that section of the DNA being read.
Clip 5) Another scanning analogy, showing the methylation of the histone/DNA structure, and the subsequent read failures.
This month, Science magazine publishes its annual feature on science and engineering visualisation, which is a fiercely competitive and prestigious arena for the world’s science communicators.
Scientists, illustrators, computer game companies, TV companies and new media producers compete to showcase their work and raise the bar for communication of science and engineering concepts for the purposes of public engagement and education.
We are delighted to announce that we have been selected for an honourable mention in the illustration category, for our illustration of a Bacteriophage doing what it does best: attacking a bacterium!
The image was produced in around a week, including some modelling, texturing, lighting, rigging, composition, and retouching work, producing the above image at 7500 x 4500 pixels.
Our reference material (of real bacteriophages – we’re not making this stuff up!)
We were commissioned to produce a series of animations to help explore the abstract world of synthetic biology, allowing the concepts of designing and programming bacteria to perform a particular task, in this case creating a colour change when exposed to a parasite – brilliant for testing water sources in remote locations, with a clear visual result.
For information on the documentary itself, please contact Kelly Neaves at email@example.com
We’ve just completed a project for Teachers TV on Genetics and Disease, featuring several of our animation sequences, related to genetics and disease, showing mutations, chromosome defects and genetic surveys.
Watch the full 15-minute video on YouTube: Teachers TV – Genetics and Medicine: Genes and Disease
….or just skip to the pretty graphics (below)
OK, well here’s something I’m sure you’ve all wanted to do – build cool sciencey stuff out of Lego…..
I’m sure this isn’t the way real Lego builders do it, but should be possible to get some really cool (and really precise effects). Imagine taking any 3D model, sculpture, CAD model, and recreating a scale model.
Here’s an example. (1) Build a 3D model. (2) Convert it to 3D Lego bricks using Rob Abbott’s excellent Legoizer Lscript. (3) Write some code to manipulate the data into a human usable form. (4-5) Export 155 image files, detailing each layer of the structure. Hey presto, usable building instructions to recreate any shape out of Lego 🙂
The building instructions show the position of bricks in each layer, and faded depiction of the layer below for reference. Right, got some Lego arriving in the post, let’s see how it looks for real….
The Design Council asked us to help them visualise their challenge for the NHS, Design Bugs Out, where the UK’s top designers and manufacturers were asked to design furniture and equipment which would be easier and quicker to thoroughly clean, in order to reduce the spread of infections from surfaces.
From three storyboards and some CAD files, we created three animations to outline how their new equipment was an improvement, plus some 360° views of the equipment. Read more at Design Bugs Out.
Curtain Clip A curtain clip with wipe-clean handles provides a common touch-point for anyone opening and closing the curtain and can be cleaned on a regular basis. Standard curtains are handled regularly by staff, patients and visitors. But they are hard to clean, increasing the risk of cross-infection.
Intelligent Mattress with hydrochromic dye. This mattress aids in the detection of punctures in the waterproof plastic covering, which could allow bacteria such as C. difficile to contaminate the inner foam core. A layer of hydrochromic ink in the mattress covering changes colour as soon as fluids seep through, highlighting staff to the risk of contamination.
Patient Bedside System. A mobile patient bedside system that can be configured to suit different clinical settings and patient needs, with a design that makes it easy to disassemble and clean on a regular basis.