Remember the Inner Life of the Cell?

I had done a post a while back about John Liebler, the lead animator at XVIVO, who created the Inner Life of the Cell for Harvard University. Well here is an interview with David Bolinsky, the founder of XVIVO, giving us an update on what’s come about since the successful release of Inner Life of the Cell.

[Article via WIRED]

By Kim Zetter|
02:00 AM Mar, 14, 2007Who would have thought the inner workings of a white blood cell could be visually stunning? For those who fell asleep during high school biology classes, David Bolinsky’s presentation at the TED conference was a revelation.

Bolinsky, former lead medical illustrator at Yale, screened a three-minute version of a computer-generated film, The Inner Life of the Cell, that he and colleagues at his company Xvivo created for Harvard’s Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology.

The film animation, also shown at Siggraph last summer, has caused quite a stir, leading museums, universities and even Hollywood’s Wachowski brothers to come calling. Xvivo recently created all the animation in a one-hour pilot for the new PBS science show 22nd Century and parts of the company’s cell film may be used in a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Bolinsky, who was two years into a medical degree when he launched his first illustration company in 1983, has long wanted to use computers to animate science but says the technology only recently caught up with his vision. He spoke with Wired News about the discovery process.

Wired News: Warner Bros. contacted you, right?

David Bolinsky: A couple of days before TED we got a call from Warner Bros. Pictures. Apparently the Wachowski brothers, the guys who did The Matrix, are doing a remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and they had come across our animation and they wanted to know if we’d be interested in re-rendering it at film resolution so it could be included in some way as (part) of the special effects they’re planning for the movie. So right now their lawyers are talking with the Harvard lawyers about the possibility of this. (Press reports say the Wachowski brothers, though not directors of the film, have been brought in to re-work the film’s ending.)

WN: So this entire 8.5-minute film depicts what’s going on inside one white blood cell?

Bolinsky: Yes. We needed to have a starting point. Something small enough so we could actually accomplish it and show it around and get feedback from the academic community — so we could see if it was a worthwhile direction and use it as a teaser to get funding so we could really do a proper job on this subject. So we decided on a cellular-motility theme and what happens to a white blood cell patrolling the capillary when there’s an inflammation outside the capillary.

WN: How did Inner Life of the Cell come about?

Bolinsky: (We) wanted to make something that would give people a strong sense of a cell — not as a list of topics to be studied, not as a compendium of tables and graphs and charts, (but) as a bustling, immensely purposeful metropolis populated very, very densely by these micro machines that do a huge amount of work at great speed and great precision and purposefulness.

WN: How did people outside Harvard learn about it?

Bolinsky: We unleashed it on the world for the first time by entering it … in Siggraph’s (contest for) the best animations of the year. Special effects from Pixar and Sony pictures and all the large Hollywood companies that make fancy commercials are entered.

Continue reading the rest of the article at Wired.