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Bob and the Soap Bubble
What it is...
5 minute short animation that explains what the male Panther Chameleon and a Soap Bubble have in common.
Answer in a nutshell: They both use light interference to create the colours we see.(highlight to read spoiler)
Graduation Project at the ZHdK in cooperation with the LANE institute. June 2016

Media used:
2d (Photoshop) and 3d (Cinema4d)
Animated parts: Cinema 4d and After Effects
Compositing in AfterEffects

Why did I create it?
This animation is my graduation project for my Bachelor in Scientific Visualization at ZHdK (Zürcher Hochschule der Künste) June 2016. Additionally it was mentored by scientists from the LANE institute in Geneva. They had this wonderfully fascinating topic about light and colour I had the opportunity to create a project for. The website from National Geographic already explained the structure of the skin cells of the chameleon and Veritasium provided a video that explained the process of the chameleon skin change and structural colour.
For my project I wanted to create something new. It was quite a challenge to understand all the scientific knowledge without in depth prior knowledge of these biological and physical processes. My goal was to create an animation that explained the principle of light, interference and the chameleon cells overall. Additionally I wanted to present the topic in an approachable fun and entertaining way. Simple terms but still scientific. For the research results of the LANE to be shared with a broad audience.

Bob - the male green Panther Chameleon came into existence. Short, male and memorable: The decision of the name for the main character of my animation came on the spur of a moment during a break. It stuck.

After roughly 12 weeks of working on the project including various deadlines for printing posters, postcards and other preparations the animation under the name Bob and the Soap Bubble was ready to be presented to visitors at the graduation exposition.
Summary of the existing material and goal possibilities
At the beginning of the project I collected the existing material about the topic. I did my own research to clarify which parts I needed to ask my scientific mentors about.

The content range, depth and end format was not fixed. It had to, however, contain an animation about the s-iridophore cells. The story of Bob and the Soap Bubble came into existence during the work process.

Process and how it evolved
Structure with speaker text

The structure and content of the project was changing during the whole process. The goal was to eliminate everything but the essential and to condense the knowledge, but still have all the pieces for the viewer to follow along. 

Style Exploration
Searching for the look and technique of the soap bubble
For the soap bubble I experimented with a lot of combinations of shaders, gradients and reflections in Cinema 4d. For the final version I activated a spectral shader in the reflection channel, put the background environment illustration of Bob in the background to reflect on it (but hid the background from the camera). Additionally I added all of this on a double transparent sphere object with strong Fresnel.
For the animation I used layer modes in After Effects to get the desired see-through look.
soap bubble with the two layers
FCC order of the nano crystals in the chameleon s-iridophore cells
The nano crystals are arranged in the most dense arrangement possible. It was quite a challenge to be able to animate this object. In the end I animated 4 copies of a MoGraph cloner to get the correct position of the crystals. Due to using sketch and toon instances were not possible.

This was the first time I created a storyboard on my own. Learned a lot from this project.
Background illustration plate with Bob hiding under greenery
Watch Bob and the Soap Bubble on Youtube EpiPhysX science channel:
or on Labocine. Where it was picked to be under the "Top Ten: Animated Films From The Science New Wave" in Febr 17.

Bob and the Soap Bubble

Bob and the Soap Bubble

My Graduation Project at the ZHdK Bachelors in Scientific Visualization. In cooperation with the Lane Institute as science mentors.