View Full Version : DNA Strand Modeling & Animation Tutorials...?

ChillWill Graphix
05-15-2004, 04:49 PM
Hey guys,

I was wondering if anyone had links to tutorials that would cover the above subject? I have an animation that I would like to do for college, but not sure how to go about it. The idea is for a splash screen for my friends' web page. They are in a band that uses a lot of science symbology and they use a DNA strand as a logo on their T-Shirt. Anyway, I want to have a step ladder looking object fade into a black background and then have the top portion rotate one direction and the bottom portion rotate the other to form a DNA strand. I have not decided how I will surface it yet, but thought that it would be cool if it had a sort of brush metal/shiny surface and then maybe creatively light it and have the camera move around the strand. I was also toying with importing the bands name logo and doing something cool with that. Once the DNA strand has formed, I will then have it rotate or something. What is the best way to go about doing this? I am somewhat familiar with the LightWave interface from doing some tutorials, but not sure if I need to joint the rung/structure polys and whether I need to use bones or not. I am very inexperienced at this stuff, but am determined to figure this out. If you have made this far - thank you! If not, well, nevermind (you won't be reading this anyway!). THANK YOU VERY MUCH IN ADVANCE FOR ANY ASSISTANCE RENDERED (pardon the pun ;-)

Kind Regards - Mike

ChillWill Graphix
05-15-2004, 09:52 PM
Did I put this in the wrong forum category or something? I would have though SOMEBODY would have some input. Come on guys -throw me a bone here.

Thanks in advance - Mike

05-15-2004, 11:43 PM
Im not sure exactly what you're going for here. If you want a stylized, stepladder looking helix you could lathe a flat circle with an offset in order to do the outer strands of the helix and then do some variation of array clone to do the ladder rungs. If you want to make a more accurate dna representation, check out the pdbSpreader importer that comes with Lightwave8.

It sounds like the animation would be simple keyframed motion of the objects, but again its hard to say without knowing exactly what you want.

ChillWill Graphix
05-16-2004, 01:27 AM
Sounds like some great info, but I only have access to LW 7.5 so will need to work within those boundaries. I am mainly curious, as a newb, how I need to connect the rungs to the vertical pieces and how to twist the whole thing in layout. I guess the best route might just be trial and error. Thank you very much for the input!

Goodnight/morning - Mike

05-16-2004, 10:27 AM
Are you talking about making the strand like a ladder and then animating the twist in layout? If that's the case, make a different weight map for every rung. Then make a chain of bones (in layout) going down the center of the object and apply each weight map to its respective bone. then twist (bank) the bone chain.

Do the ladders and rungs need to be one continuous mesh? If not, it would be easy to make the helixes and then just clone the rungs and put them in place. If you want all the parts connected, check out a free plugin called quadsew. You should be able to find it at Flay.com. In LW8, the bridge tool does pretty much the same thing.

05-16-2004, 12:03 PM
hehe i am actually working on a dna strand model as we speak though i have a feeling its the uber poly not smart way but it looks cool i think

ChillWill Graphix
05-17-2004, 03:11 AM
Cool - I'd be very interested to see screen caps and/or hear about your process/techniques. I googled the heck out of this and have some research to do - but I am really looking forward to creating the animation I have in mind.

Good luck with your DNA - Mike

05-17-2004, 07:58 AM
sure i could post some screens later today

05-17-2004, 09:06 PM
ok here is a screen of the dna strand in layout. sorry about it being dark but that gives the general outline

06-01-2004, 05:08 PM

This is probably too late, but here's the basic approach I took.

Say you want 50 rungs on your DNA. For the outer rails, make a box with 50 vertical segments. Offset it and mirror it so you have the two outer rails. Use the box tool to make one rung, then make an array of 50 rungs so each land in the middle of each rail segment. Hit TAB to make everything a subdivision object and smooth things out.

Bring your model into layout. Add a null, call it "base" and move it to the bottom of the ladder. And another null, call it "Handle" and move it to the top of the ladder.

With your ladder model selected, go to item properties, deform tab and add the Deform: Twist displacement. Make the base null the base, make the handle null the handle. Animate (rotate) the handle null to make your ladder twist like a DNA strand.

I've tried to attach a jpeg of the DNA illustration I did, but I can't get it to work.
I can post a link it you want to see it.

Good luck.

Shawn Marshall
Marshall Arts Motion Graphics