Most of us live in a world where the most important aspect of our work is that it looks good, tells the story and provides entertainment,… most but not all. There is a small but highly competitive group of artists who’s work needs to be engaging, tell a story but most importantly be completely accurate. Welcome to the work of complex medical imaging, – to the world of Casey Steffen and the science of story telling. Steffen’s work is beautiful and highly technical. For Steffen and people like him, they need to not only worry about understanding volumetric rendering technology but also primordial DNA or the actions of HIV receptors extracted from Xray Crystalographies datasets. In this week’s fxpodcast we explore this complex and demanding world.

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For examples of some of the imagery we discuss in the podcact click the read more link below of visit
Steffen VFX

SteffenVFX’s work includes the Finding the Origins of Life for The National Geographic Channel. In which the documentary crew followed a handful of scientists around the world as they discus the chemical and environmental conditions necessary for life on our planet to organize.

Below are examples from across Steffen’s work.

Primordial DNA

Deoxyribonucleic Acid exhibits a unique double helix structure. This macromolecule contains the formula to code each and every protein known to exist in both plant and animal. The steps of this spiraling staircase are composed of two nucleotides, paired by their nucleobase centers. Only four nucleotides are required to code for almost 100 billion different proteins known to exist today. Each and every nucleotide adheres to one simple formula: Adenine (Blue) pairs with Thymine (Yellow). Guanine(Orange) pairs with Cytosine (Green)


Primordial Cell

This animation depicts what scientists theorize are the cellular requirements for primordial life. At its most basic, a living cell consists of a phospholipid bi-layer membrane separating internal organelle from an external environment, metabolic organelles which do work, transforming nutrients into energy while expelling waste. Finally life requires some sort of genetic material capable of self replication.

Primordial Protein

Under the right catalytic conditions, the fundamental building blocks of life formed when inorganic material transformed into something different. This simulation depicts the theoretical atomic dynamics under heated conditions.

Molecular Modeling: UCSF’s Chimera
Animation: Softimage
Rendering: Menal Ray
Composite: After Effects

Casey Steffen

Casey Steffen himself began his career as an artist working in the video game industry back in 1996.  Since then, Steffen’s work can be seen in almost every format of media: web, television, book publishing, film and finally medical education directing MOA, 3D animations.

In 2004, Casey graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, with a Master of Science in Biomedical Visualization.  As a Medical Illustrator, Casey’s work needs to offer a strong visual perspective on the combined application of Art, Science, Medicine, Technology and Storytelling. He is principal artist for Steffen Vfx, and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

1 thought on “New fxpodcast: Science of Storytelling”

  1. I’m pretty new to commenting and found that a number of your other readers have various avatars. How I can change mine? Is it possible to put in my own one?

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