Full text from the submission:
I decided to focus this animation on the new virus model structure. Revealing the components layer by layer, from the external proteins down to the RNA core, I wanted to present the supplied model in a way that was visually attractive and informative. Most of the learning material I came across on the HIV virus were of 2D drawings; it's my hope that producing this animation in 3D with vibrant colors and dynamic lighting makes it more appealing to those, like me, who are unfamiliar with the medical concepts and terminology.
I began with cellPack(w/autoPack) and ePMV to import the HIV virus and blood plasma data into 3DS Max. It's pretty amazing being able to import molecular models and protein structures from the Protein Data Bank. A really cool tool! And with another cool tool, cellPack enabled the align, pack and building of all imported components into a workable model. I also used Blender to bring in the HIV genome as ePMV works fantastic with Blender with more suppoted features. With the model imported and organized, I started concepting, finding a balance between illustrating a concept and portraying reality. Anything too realistic would be unrelatable to those unfamiliar with this material and anything too generic wouldn't have any educational value. Hoping that I struck a proper balance between being accurate and easily-digestable, I moved forward with animation. I plotted the cameras and animated all of the components to vibrate - to reflect movement in Brownian dynamics, the chaotic movement of particles at microscopic scales. I created a particle system made up of blood plasma components for the virus to reside in. I rendered everything using VRay and composited within After Effects.
The ambient soundtrack was provided by friend and colleague Joel Eckert. I had a great deal of fun with this and learned a lot - a great challenge for me. I encountered several problems throughout production, so I'm considering a putting together a public post mortem on this project, if there's any interest. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy this.
3DS Max 2013 (w/ PFlow)
After Effects CS6 (w/ Frischluft, RSMB)
Challenge page: http://autopack.cgsociety.org/autopack/