autoPack Visualization Challenge

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autoPack Visualization Challenge
15 December 2012 - 18 March 2013

We know about molecules; we know about cells and organelles; but the stuff in between is messy and mysterious… yet that is the level of magnification at which much of the action takes place: the scale of perhaps a few to several hundred nanometres… it is precisely here that our understanding remains the most patchy.
– Philip Ball, from the scientific journal Nature, 2003

Scientific visualization is a multi-billion dollar industry, which aims to investigate and communicate the realms that exist beyond our normal senses. In the molecular world of alien-looking shapes and bizarre physics, Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks critical immune system defense cells in human blood, causing the disease AIDS. This pandemic has taken over 33,000,000 lives, with millions more added each year.

Autodesk unites with two leading research institutes to challenge you to explore this mysterious world. They will provide competitors with a cellPack model of HIV in blood serum and a powerful open source app, called autoPACK. It is up to you to convey humanity's complex relationships with this virus, be they emotional, political, or intellectual. We need your help to excite general audiences with visuals that will help us spread interest in the search for a cure.

This is your opportunity to be a pioneer on the frontier of science!

For more information, please visit:

AMD websiteAMD website

The cellPACK HIV model and autoPACK software are provided open-source by Art Olson's Molecular Graphics Lab at The Scripps Research Institute and by Graham Johnson's Mesoscope Lab at the University of California (qb3@UCSF). uPy interfaces for autoPACK by Ludovic Autin.


autoPACK is an object packing App with GUI access for: Maya 2011–13, 3ds Max 2013, CINEMA 4D r12–14, Blender, and for two 3D molecular graphics software packages PMV and Chimera. Coming soon for Softimage and Houdini, so check back often.

To enter the contest, you must install autoPACK and use it to automatically generate one of the provided models for HIV in Blood Serum using the Viewer Tab. Details below.

Install autoPACK to construct HIV into your preferred 3D software.

  1. Install autoPACK for your system.
  2. Follow the first tutorial (takes 20 seconds) to construct HIV in Blood Serum into your scene automatically.
  3. Follow the more advanced tutorials as needed to customize your scene, animations, or model simulations.

    1. After installing autoPACK and loading the HIV in Blood Serum model into your choice of 3D software or Molecular Viewer:

      1. You may use the model as-is, or modify it to any degree and use any medium, but we suggest that the final submission should retain some recognizable visual aspects of the raw model.
      2. You may use any version of the HIV in Blood Serum model generated through the GUI, but we suggest updating your autoPACK App frequently and further suggest using the most recent model until you start to lock down your final render. You will not be penalized for using older versions of the model.
      3. Tell your story with a JPG image or short film (120 seconds max).
      4. Log in to CGSociety or register if you are a first time user.
      5. Enter the challenge by clicking the big green [JOIN CHALLENGE] button, select the prize category you are competing for (image or video), Read and agree to the Terms and Conditions, and click [ENTER NOW].
      6. Upload your WIP and Final Entry by clicking [UPLOAD ENTRY]. Add a brief overview of the tools and techniques you used to the description of your entry in the Description box.
      7. Provide all of the deliverables for your category below before the contest deadline... get started early!
      8. Still Image Deliverables:
        - At least 2 WIP (Work in Progress) with a simple, but descriptive protocol that overviews the tools and techniques you used including use of the autoPACK app.
        - Final submission

        Final Still Image Technical Requirements:
        Minimum side: 1600 pixels
        Maximum side: 2560 pixels
        Any proportions
        File type/extension: High quality JPG / .jpg

        Video Deliverables:
        - At least 2 WIPs (Work in Progress (either animated or static)) with a simple, but descriptive protocol that overviews the tools and techniques you used including use of the autoPACK app.
        - Final HD video submission

        Final Video technical requirements:
        Suggested Resolution: HD 720p - 1280x720
        Accepted file-types: (avi mov mkv mp4 flv)
        Maximum file-size: 500MB per upload

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