Sean Carroll cues up the inside-the-cell "Inner Life of the Cell" animation:
The Cell is Like Tron! | Cosmic Variance: At least that's the impression I got from this quite spectacular animation. (Via Shtetl-Optimized.) Admittedly, real biological molecules would be quite a bit more densely packed. Either that, or there's an awful lot of spooky-action-at-a-distance going on inside cells...
And provides us with background by directing us to Studio Daily:
Studio Daily | Cellular Visions: The Inner Life of a Cell: What can character animators learn from those who render microscopic worlds in 3D? Plenty. By Beth Marchant July 20, 2006:
The Inner Life of a Cell, an eight-minute animation created in NewTek LightWave 3D and Adobe After Effects for Harvard biology students, won’t draw the kind of box office crowds that more ferocious˜and furrier˜digital creations did last Christmas. But it will share a place along side them in SIGGRAPH's Electronic Theatre show, which will run for three days during the 33rd annual exhibition and conference in Boston next month. Created by XVIVO, a scientific animation company near Hartford, CT, the animation illustrates unseen molecular mechanisms and the ones they trigger, specifically how white blood cells sense and respond to their surroundings and external stimuli.
Nuclei, proteins and lipids move with bug-like authority, slithering, gliding and twisting through 3D space. “All of those things that you see in the animation are going on in every one of your cells in your body all the time,” says XVIVO lead animator John Liebler, who worked with company partners David Bolinsky, XVIVO’s medical director, and Mike Astrachan, the project’s production director, to blend the academic data and narrative from Harvard’s faculty into a fluid visual interpretation.
First, we couldn’t have known where to begin with all of this material without significant work done by Alain Viel, Ph.D. [associate director of undergraduate research at Harvard University], who wrote and guided the focus to include the essential processes that needed to be described to complement the curriculum and sustain an interesting narrative. I’ve been in the medical animation field for seven years now, so I’m a little jaded, but I still get surprised by things. For instance, in the animation there’s a motor protein that’s sort of walking along a line, carrying this round sphere of lipids. When I started working on that section I admit I was kind of surprised to see that it really does look like it’s out for a stroll, like a character in a science fiction film or animation. But based on all the data, it’s a completely accurate rendering...