Interactive Animation of T7 Bacteriophage using Cryo EM Data & Sketchfab

Recent studies using Cryo-EM have revealed that bacteriophage T7  may actually “walk” across the cell during the infection process (ref. Hu B, Margolin W, Molineux IJ, Liu ).

As we are testing Sketchfab’s new animation feature, we wanted to see if we could animate the bacteriophage using character rigging techniques.  After export from Chimera into 3DS Max, EMD 5535 .obj was rigged using biped bones.

After rigging, we applied motion capture (.bvh) files to the model.  We tested a variety of human walk and dance motion files.

The animation sequence was exported from 3DS Max as an FBX file and imported into Sketchfab (see below).

You can rotate (using the mouse) and zoom (using the mouse wheel) as the animation plays.  Likewise, you can change the play speed via the menu items (bottom of the viewer)>



Figure 1.   EMD-5535 animation imported into Sketchfab.


EMD 5535 was exported from Chimera into .obj format.  After import into 3DS Max, the structure was “rigged” using standard methods.  Motion capture (.bvh) data was applied to the rig and exported into FBX format.   After the animated model was uploaded to Sketchfab, adjustments were made to lighting, camera angles and texture maps.



Importing Animation into  Sketchfab

With the rigging in place, we could now replace structures with higher resolution EMD files, as shown in the interactive animation below.

The  interactive animations allow you to view the motion from various angles and magnifications (use mouse wheel to zoom in).  

College of Natural Sciences Video  showing the T7 infection process:

Published on Jan 10, 2013

Animation showing the changes in the structure of a T7 virus as it infects an E. coli bacterium.This robot-like process has been observed and visualized for the first time by researchers from The University of Texas at Austin and The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health) Medical School. Their paper was published in Science Express:…