It was interesting to see a well-written article about the field of medical animation and how medical animators differ from other animators. Medical animation occupies such a niche and the social circle is quite tight, which made me quite unconscious to how unknown this occupation is.
When people hear “medical” and “animation” in the same job title, most have difficulty connecting these distinctly different areas together. It’s somewhat like the job title “artist manager”. When I saw the title on the hotel elevator the other day, I was wondering whether they are those who manage a group of production artists or those who use artistic skills in their management methods. Or,, maybe it is something beyond my imagination.
It’s hard to relate (serious & authoritative) medical practice to (light hearted & entertaining) animation considering the general perception on two distinct fields. The point is, unlike commercial animators, medical animators use animation as a tool to convey complex information. Of course most animations have common ground such as focusing on linear storytelling to convey a message and utilizing the power of moving visuals to capture the audience’s attention. However, the main purpose of an medical animation is training or promotion instead of self-expression or entertainment, which make medical animators focus on scientific accuracy.
In order to create a scientific animation, medical animators go through in-depth literature reviews to extract key points, which later become part of the story. Then, they conduct research on the background science to accurately translate the written concepts to visual forms. Anatomical knowledge as well as understanding in life sciences are the usual prerequisites.
Sometimes, specific software is used to maximize scientific accuracy in medical visualizations of the animations. For example, molecular structures are often an essential part of the story, especially the molecular affinity for drug interactions. Instead of using random shapes, medical animators developed the ways to convert scientific models from Protein Data Bank to 3D graphic applications such as Maya. This way animations can present accurate models while increasing the artistic quality.
The article “How to Choose a Medical Animator” also briefly covers other concepts such as other formats related to medical visualization (interactive 3D interface, gameing, or augmented reality etc) as well as outputting medical animations to other formats to keep the brand identity consistent.