I recetly had the opportunity to host a course on Blender explaining its potentiality and usage to deal with biomechanical data such as medical scans, finite element analysis results, or general volumetric datasets.

Scientific animation with Blender

Blender

Blender is a powerful and open-source 3D computer graphics software used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D games, and more. It features a comprehensive set of tools for modeling, sculpting, texturing, animating, rendering, and compositing. Blender’s versatile capabilities make it suitable for a wide range of creative projects, and its active community contributes to its ongoing development and improvement.

Researcher and audience

For each researcher it is very important to present results in an interesting and compelling form for several important reasons:

  1. Communication with a Wider Audience: Researchers often need to convey their findings to a diverse audience, including fellow scientists, policymakers, funding agencies, and the general public. Presenting results in an interesting form can help engage and capture the attention of a broader audience, making complex concepts more accessible.
  2. Knowledge Dissemination: Making research results visually appealing and easily understandable aids in the dissemination of knowledge and facilitates the transfer of information to both experts in the field and those outside of it, fostering a greater understanding of the research.
  3. Impact and Influence: An interesting presentation of results enhances the impact of research. Compelling visuals and engaging formats can increase the likelihood that the research will be noticed, cited, and potentially influence decision-making in relevant fields.
  4. Storytelling and Contextualization: Presenting results in an interesting form allows researchers to craft a narrative around their findings. Storytelling helps provide context, explain the significance of the results, and guide the audience through the research process, making the information more memorable and relatable.
  5. Effective Communication of Complexity: Research findings, especially in scientific and technical fields, can be complex. Interesting visualizations and interactive formats help simplify complex data, making it more digestible for a broader audience. This is crucial for conveying intricate relationships and patterns in a way that is easy to comprehend.
  6. Competitive Advantage: In academia and various research fields, there is often intense competition for attention and resources. Researchers who can present their results in an interesting and innovative manner may have a competitive advantage, garnering more attention and support for their work.

Animations and digital contents with Blender

With the prevalence of digital media, researchers have the opportunity to leverage multimedia elements such as videos, interactive graphics, and animations. These elements can enhance understanding and engagement, particularly in fields where dynamic processes or 3D representations are integral to the research.

Showcase

I’ll then present some contents from these lectures showing different possible applications that can be useful for researchers of any field.

Deforming mesh

A deformative process certainly cannot be missing. It is obtained through a sequence of deformed mesh computed within a 4D interpolation in space and time.

Mesh deformation

And we can then add some texture to the object. Texture and shading are vital in 3D computer graphics for realism and visual appeal. Textures add surface details, like bumps and patterns, enhancing object authenticity. Shading simulates material properties and light interactions, creating highlights and shadows for a more lifelike appearance. Together, they elevate visual quality, support artistic expression, and contribute to immersive storytelling, making 3D scenes engaging, relatable, and visually convincing.

The same data could be represented in a more artistic way using the Blender geometry nodes.

Blender geometry nodes.

Or by creating a characteristic point-segment network from the original mesh:

Medical images

Medical images based on volumetric data provide detailed three-dimensional representations of internal structures in the human body. These images, often obtained through techniques like CT or MRI scans, offer valuable insights for diagnosis, treatment planning, and research. Volumetric data allows healthcare professionals to visualize and analyze complex anatomical structures, detect abnormalities, and precisely locate and assess conditions, contributing to improved medical diagnostics and patient care.

In-silico laboratories

An in-silico laboratory refers to a virtual environment where experiments and simulations are conducted using computer models and algorithms instead of traditional physical experiments. It allows researchers to explore, analyze, and predict scientific phenomena in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. In-silico labs are crucial for various fields, such as drug discovery, materials science, and biology, as they enable rapid experimentation, reduce the need for physical resources, and provide insights into complex processes that may be challenging to study directly. They offer a valuable complement to traditional laboratories, fostering innovation and accelerating scientific discovery.

Physics

Blender simulates physics through its built-in physics engines, primarily the “Bullet” physics engine. It enables the simulation of various physical phenomena, including rigid body dynamics for realistic object interactions, soft body dynamics for deformable objects, fluid simulations for liquids and gases, smoke and fire simulations for realistic atmospheric effects, and cloth simulations for lifelike fabric behavior. These physics simulations allow Blender users to create visually accurate and dynamic animations, making it a versatile tool for a wide range of 3D projects.

376 rigid bodies simulated in Blender