Pick a 3D Host


ePMV provides molecular graphics and other scientific functionality directly inside of several popular 3D animation software packages. Combing scientific and 3D software makes it easier to produce high quality images and animations, to combine models from multiple data sources and data types into one scene, to perform unique simulations, and to develop new visualization and modeling tools.  ePMV works readily with another software project developed by our labs called autoPACK to generate and easily customize massive molecular models of cellular environments (including whole cells).

To use ePMV, you'll perform 3 major steps:
  1. Own or install a 3D Animation software package.  We call these packages hosts.
  2. Install uPy Suite 1.0 which contains ePMV and autoPACK (and uPy which allows ePMV and autoPACK to run in the hosts.)
  3. Update ePMV and autoPACK with just a couple mouse clicks from within the GUIs
  4. Learn how to use the software- we have beginners tutorials that teach you how to use 3D software while teaching you ePMV and autoPACK and we have advanced tutorials to help you tackle tough projects and become an expert user.


To get started with ePMV (which now installs simultaneously with autoPACK), you must install (or already have), one of the 3D software packages listed below.
(Because autoPACK is a standalone python algorithm, it can be run separately or through the molecular viewers PMV and Chimera and soon online, but you can also run it right along side of ePMV, molecularMaya, bioBlender, etc in any of the following 3D hosts)
Blender, Cinema 4D, Maya, 3D Studio Max.

1. Pick a Host: Own or Install a Professional 3D Software Package
Once installed, ePMV will extend any of the following professional 3D applications with a multitude of powerful scientific algorithms, save you loads of time, and greatly simplify your workflow.
If you encounter any problem please contact us.

Host software Pros and Cons (alphabetical):

Blender 2.49b
Preferred by scientists because it is completely open-source and powerful.
Con– the interface is notoriously difficult.
Con– we no longer support uPy development of Blender 2.49. Use 2.62 as of January 2013.
Blender 2.58x and 2.62
Nicer interface than 2.49 and some powerful features.
Con– the more attractive interface is still very tricky to learn.

Cinema 4D r12–r14 from Maxon
Get a demo version of Cinema4D r14 from Maxon
Preferred by Medical Illustrators.
Enriched by a dedicated community of medical illustrators that strives for scientific accuracy.
Powerful commercial package that is famous for its intuitive interface and general ease of use.
It can't be over expressed how much easier C4D is to use compared to the other packages- makes it worth the cost for most users.
Cons– C4D is not cheap, even for academics pricing ~$900 US from maxon.net for an unlimited time and ~$300 from other academic software companies for a 3 year lease. Please write maxon to plead for better academic pricing (i.e., free)!
Maxon has started an educational program available this coming fall!
Although its not free, we use C4D in our tutorials and classrooms because it boasts the most intuitive interface that leads to a relatively pleasant experience for 1st time 3D exposure.
Cons– No longer available for Linux.

Maya 2011-2013 from Autodesk
Get a demo or educational version of Maya2013 from Autodesk
Unlimited power
The workhorse of Hollywood.
Strong support of Scientific Research from a new biological research division at Autodesk
Con– not cheap in the real world, but available free to academics for 3 years as of Spring 2011!
Con– this massive application has a steep learning curve that takes a career to master.

3D Studio Max 2013 from Autodesk
A long tradition and a massive group of dedicated users.
Another workhorse of Hollywood.
Con– not cheap in the real world, but available free to academics for 3 years as of Spring 2011!
Con– this massive application has a steep learning curve that takes a career to master.
Con– 3D Studio Max is not yet fully wrapped in Python, so uPy can not easily unite all of the features of ePMV and autoPACk with all of the features of Max, but keep checking back for updates to Max and uPy for Max as it gets better every month.

2. Install with the appropriate One-step installer
Follow the instructions on the installers page very carefully to get up and running with ePMV as a plugin for your favorite professional 3D animation application. The new installers simplify the installation process and generally take between 2 and 5 minutes depending on your system, host, and experience level.
You will install the full uPy Suite 1.0 which contains ePMV and autoPACK (and uPy which allows ePMV and autoPACK to run in the hosts.)

Please ignore the youtube link below... I will move it in mid January to a more appropriate location.