I have been doing a lot of work in myrmecology the last two years under a man I greatly respect, Dr. Walter Tschinkel.
Myrmecology is the study of ants, a branch of entomology. We study ant nest architecture and ecology.
Among other things, I have digitized 15 colonies using transparency sheets generated from various ant colony field censuses. (explained in my video “POGO dig and census”)
To my knowledge, I am the first person the generate 3D models of this kind. To supplement the Youtube playlist I plan to upload my models here as objects files in a zip folder. As wavefront objects the models should be simple enough to view in mesh-lab or any other 3D software that supports .obj.
I generated all these colonies using Blender in Ubuntu Studio linux. I traced the transparencies and then extruded the chambers and aligned them in 3D space. I then animated them in 4D space (XYZ,TIME) using the Blender time-line and key frames.
The biggest hurdle I faced was rotating the models using the proper axis after I had titled them. Try to understand, the objects would only rotate around the global axis and not the object axis, such that if they become tilted in the program, they no longer rotate properly. This means that a titled object, keyframed to rotate on it’s Z axis, would rotate along the X and Y as well. This looks absurd in the animation and it wouldn’t do to try to keyframe the “wobble” away (you can tell that I tried). Eventually I figured out that parenting the object to an empty and using constraints allowed me to rotate the object independent of the global axis. Everything else was straightforward.
All in all, rendering took ~1000 hours and had to be re-rendered if I messed up.
I mixed the animations into videos using Kdenlive, and I produced the music for Colony 84 using LMMS and MIDI. All other music was from the FreeMusicArchive.org