Flocking, as you know, is most easily described when discussing the group activities of birds or in the shoaling behavior of fish. In a nutshell it is the interaction of a group of many independent organisms to move as one.
Imagine a flock of birds all taking flight at once or a shoal of sardines circling for safety in their mass numbers. Flocking is very helpful in the wilds of the world, but it is also very useful in the bread and butter aspects of animation.
Take into consideration the humble red blood cell as it travels along its circulatory route through the body. Deep in the bodies capillaries the cells are pressed single file and pretty much have to go where the direction of travel drives them. Like military school students in a lunch line, they advance single file perfectly. But in larger veins and arteries, especially torturous anatomy or in varicose veins the red blood cells are so numerous that they roll and tumble to the beat of the body’s mighty pump. In cases like this, flocking behavior is ideal for allowing the cells to get through the turbulence but still have that nice random organic flow. Throw in all the other characters that inhabit the blood stream and you have an ideal use for flocking.
Another great place to put flocking to use in a medical animation is, believe it or not, on the two dimensional surface of a slide. Imagine a slide surface covered from end to end with simple stem cells. Place an attractant at one end of those cells and they hurl themselves toward it (in cellular time that is) as they collide and twist toward their destination. But watch them carefully, they don’t take the most direct path since they need to interact with the thousands of other cells all striving for the same goal. A flow begins to take place, and it looks identical to a large mass of birds changing direction in midair.
Other exceptional uses could include brain cell axon behavior, RNA strand movement and even the humble particle that is so often used in many method of action medical animations. Imagine a simple cytokine, being released from a macrophage in some kind of auto immune reaction. Thousands of particles are being released, and each cytokine is destine for a matching receptor on a nearby cell. What might look like a random path when first released, if we pull the camera back to reveal them in mass, we see a perfect venue for flocking behavior to direct them in a more natural way towards the cells in question. As the tiny cytokines begin to group, they begin to take on an elegant wispy feel that could resemble vapor.
Ah yes, you say, flocking and fluid dynamics. Now you are thinking!!! Imagine 10.000 birds as seen from an airplane taking off over a wetland. What do they look like, ink swirls in water perhaps? Mist in the airstream of a car? The more you think about it, the uses of flocking in organic animation is limitless.
To really give your next medical animation a true sense of organics, try flocking. You won’t be disappointed.
Trinsic animation is a full featured medical animation studio that specializes in biotech, pharmaceutical and medical device animations. We are passionate about what we do. We embrace each project with the scientific accuracy and the creative beauty that your animation need to become a success.