Abstract:Animated movies are a popular way to communicate complex phe- nomena in cell biology to the broad audience. Animation artists apply sophisticated illustration techniques to communicate a story, while trying to maintain a realistic representation of a complex dy- namic environment. Since such hand-crafted animations are time- consuming and cost-intensive to create, our goal is to formalize illustration techniques used by artists to facilitate the automatic creation of visualizations generated from mesoscale particle-based molecular simulations. Our technique Illustrative Timelapse sup- ports visual exploration of complex biochemical processes in dy- namic environments by (1) seamless temporal zooming to observe phenomena in different temporal resolutions, (2) visual abstraction of molecular trajectories to ensure that observers are able to visually follow the main actors, (3) increased visual focus on events of inter- est, and (4) lens effects to preserve a realistic representation of the environment in the context. Results from a first user study indicate that visual abstraction of trajectories improves the ability to follow a story and is also appreciated by users. Lens effects increased the perceived amount of molecular motion in the environment while trading off traceability of individual molecules.