Art of Icy Influenza

by Max Rogers

The following pages are an insight into the pre production and production of a fantasy narrative inspired animation on influenza attacking the body. This topic was from a pick of four and we were assigned to create a two minute animation of our own take on the topic. The project has been a gruelling test and time management was definitely key in this unit but much has been learnt in relation to the pipeline of creating an animation.

‡ Looking at images of the flu virus magnified it looks rather vicious with spikes used to attach itself to the host cells. These attachment spikes are known as hemagglutinin which make up for around 80% of the spikes while the other 20% is made up of neuraminidase which is mainly used for the release of newly produced virus particles from the host cell. Although the flu virus is generally easily treated there have been many instances where this is not the case due to different strands of the virus such as H1N1 which are much quicker in their growth. The deadliest case of a flu outbreak was the Spanish flu epidemic during 1918 which is recorded to have infected one billion people - half the world's population at the time. Reinforcing the point of its ease of eradication the virus is still among the top ten causes of death in America, shockingly ranking higher than that of the HIV virus which causes Aids.

‡ From the research gathered of the Influenza virus I became interested in a fantasy depiction of the way the virus attacks the body. The virus gives the victim µcold¶ symptoms which then led to me pushing my artistic license and thinking along the lines of coldness leading on an interest of ice.

‡ Influences for this animation originally came from a picture of the swine flu virus H1N1 instantly coming across as a sentinel-like menace from The Matrix trilogy. This caused me to think about the design of my virus and

More Influences
I looked in to concept art from the game Uncharted 2: Among Thieves for inspiration of snow and ice environments and the artist Luke Jerram¶s glass sculptures of viruses for inspiration of my virus design, envisioning it as being in some ways transparent

Target Audience
‡ The target audience for this animation is young teenagers, it is more story driven and artistic in order to entertain rather than educate. The narrative is dark accompanied by a setting which becomes darker in the appearance of the flu virus. It is not recommended for a younger audience due to the mild peril.

Unit 6 ± Acts
‡ Act 1 Soft classical intro is played accompanied by a black screen where a sneeze is heard. The screen fades in to a single flu virus which is then breathed in by an unsuspecting victim. The virus travels through the respiratory system heading for the lungs causing the respiratory walls to freeze up as it passes through. The virus makes it way to the cell membrane of a lung cell where it begins to push through. Act 2 As the virus breaks through the music begins to become more powerful as RNA is released menacingly making their way to the nucleus of the cell. The nucleus reads the RNA¶s µdata¶ causing the nucleus to freeze then the RNA makes its way to the cell¶s membrane and is encased within the proteins and lipid Bilayer as it forces its way out. Act 3 The music calms again as the flu virus leaves the frozen dying cell as it heads to another cell within the lungs. As it makes its way more flu viruses begin to push through the dying cell and the camera begins to zoom out to reveal other viruses leaving dying lung cells accompanied by the more powerful section of the music. The screen once again fades to black accompanied by a terrible cough



Concept Art ± Influenza Virus

Concept Art ± Virus travels through respiratory system

Concept Art ± Pneumonia affected Alveoli (Pre-Pitch environment)





Changes after Pitch
After the pitch there were a few comments on the animation which needed to be investigated. Spacing was an issue, I needed to really think about the size of my virus in comparison to its environment. And this issue of spacing would also give the environments a sense of place which would mean the audience would understand where my animation was taking them. Dr. Klappa also highlighted the dislike of the sentinel-like tentacles comparing the look of the virus to a ³surfer dude´. I was advised to change the movement into more rigid like my pre-viz to resemble a naval mine.

Influenza Virus Model
This is the untextured first model produced after the pitch but rightly pointed out to me it didn¶t feel like one object as the tentacles looked separate from the spherical body.

This is the final untextured model for my virus concept where I basically smoothed the body up the sides of the tentacles to make them look a whole object rather than the tentacles being stuck on the side of the body

Textures for the virus

Main Body


Spheres (neuraminidase)


Bump Maps for Virus

Finished textured model

This is a final render image of my virus. The model has a slight glow to it to make look colder.

Respiratory Tube Scene

Respiratory tube scene textures and bumps

Respiratory tube render images
These are the rendered images of the respiratory tube scene. One thing that worked consistently throughout the animation was the wall texture. I also used this texture for the lung as well. The idea for the scene was as the virus travels through the tube icicles pierce through the walls of the tube causing damage.

Lung scene texture and bump

Lung Renders
The organic texture was again used for the lung which works really well. Blend shapes were used to give the look of breathing in for the lungs ± something simple but rather effective. Bumps were also painted onto the geometry as well to make the surface less even .

The Lung cell

Final Scene

This was a huge scene in the animation, very large in data size because of the amount of geometry in the scene making it rather temperamental. However I like the opening of the shot with its lighting and when the camera shows the many flu virus within the lung the glow effect that they all possess works really well.

The top image is from the render I took however after some thought I realised that this wasn¶t epic enough and led me to re render the scene out and adding extra flu virus copies and Icicles into the scene.