Life Animated: Animator Eric Keller Nerds Out on Insects – Half-Earth

Labeled ant parts.

Featured Video:

This week, we bring you a serious message – there are all kinds of nerds out there! Eric Keller, 3D-animator and CG effects artist extraordinaire shows us that you don’t have to be a research scientist to nerd out on science. He puts his animation skills to work in a playful way to make the science behind insects more visible and understandable.

For more of Eric’s animations check out his personal website and his science project, Entomology Animated.

Phenomenal Video:

In this activity, students watch Eric’s animation, Fire Ant Venom, which brings to life the biomechanics and chemistry of the fire ant sting. The main goal is to show students the many ways to engage in scientific thinking and join the science community by demonstrating how powerful animation can be in revealing the complex processes of biology, evolution, and ecology.

Animation helps bring the imaginable to life, the invisible to our eyes, and the microscopic into our scope. Here, Eric Keller shares his insights about teaching animation and animating insects. In addition to this interview, watch Eric build hyper-realistic insect models and model how to build a realistic jumping-spider. Do you have students interested in graphic design and animation? The Gnomon School, where Eric is an instructor, is one of the top schools for 3D-animation, visual effects and CG instruction. Check out a portfolio of Eric’s animation and visual effects work to get your students inspired about how to contribute to science in unique ways.

Additional Resources:

The following resources are meant to inspire and expose your students to the wonderful world of using art in science.

— Griffith Planetarium Show: Signs of Life – Watch Eric discuss and demonstrate from minutes 29-46.

— Life on Earth, by E.O. Wilson – this digital textbook is a complete learning experience enhanced by the work of science and visualization experts from Digizyme to create an interactive experience.

— Bugshot is a community of bug photographers and entomologists dedicated to the art of understanding insects.

— These three 3D-modeling softwares are free and available to anyone interesting in developing digital skills for bringing the imaginable to life.

— Blender

— Scultpris

— Unreal Engine

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