A still from my first attempt at creating a medical animation. I used Maya with Arnold renderer.
Generally when people think about animation they think of cartoons, but animation has many more applications than storytelling such as medical animation, scientific visualisation, VR, special effects, educational videos, architectural renderings and visualisations. It’s an incredibly powerful tool, which has the potential and capability to help educate people from all around the world, no matter their background, culture or location.
Education through animation is something I am so interested in and am avidly trying to seek out more information about. Over these next few posts I want to share my findings about education and animation, and have a go at making my own medical and educational videos…(of course the content of the animations will come from experts in the field, as my scientific knowledge is rather minimal. Content is King. If the information is wrong then no matter how good the animation, it is redundant).
Whilst I still love animation for its ability to communicate a compelling story well, I have become increasingly interested by the way animation can communicate challenging and difficult information incredibly concisely and effectively.
In particular I am fascinated by medical animation. Medical animation essentially consists of visualising things that happen within the body using 3D animation software. A medical animation could show the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Or it could demonstrate how DNA replicates.
An article in Healthcare Business Today said ‘ 3D animation, aided by computer modelling and other techniques, is an increasingly indispensable tool for teaching, patient education, planning of complex surgeries, and the marketing of drugs and devices.’ I completely agree with this as I believe 3D animation has the ability to show complicated information very clearly and effectively, and improves greatly upon vastly oversimplified images and diagrams that have been used in the past.
‘Increasingly, instructors have turned to technology-assisted materials such as animations to provide students with the most accurate representations of these processes and techniques.’ Instructors and educational institutions are not alone in adopting animation as an effective communication tool. Surgeries and clinics have also begun to use animation to help explain surgical procedures to patients. Oftentimes the information about a certain surgery or condition can be difficult to understand, especially as some of the terminology and names are foreign to most people.
As an article in Flatworld Solutions said ‘Visual learning is always considered the best form of learning new things and understanding complex concepts.’ 3D animations can aid doctors explanations of a particular health condition or surgery and help to put the patient at ease. As medical animations contain lots of information and are easily accessible to people it creates a chance for patients to process information and to think of questions before they see their doctor, increasing the efficiency of consultations and doctors time.
Janet Iwasa, a molecular biologist, is someone who sparked my fascination and curiosity of medical animation. I found her Ted talk about molecular biology and animation very fascinating. I never really knew animations could be so beneficial for biology. If you haven’t seen her talk I definitely recommend doing so, it’s a fab way to spend five minutes of your time!
Towards the end of her speech she said ‘I believe that animation can change biology. It can change the way that we communicate with one another, how we explore our data and how we teach our students.’ I really believe in this, and it makes me so happy to think that something connected to the arts can be so helpful for the sciences!
Thanks for reading!