School of Medicine, University of Dundee. This project was part of my Master Thesis for MSc Medical Art
The cell cycle is a very complex process that involves many components, and the images used to depict it can sometimes be overwhelming. Dr. Oparka from the University of Dundee School of Medicine needed a way to present the most relevant features of the cycle in a clear and simple way to first-year medical students.
IN A TINY WORLD...
In its simplest form, the cell cycle is usually represented as a circle. We wanted to find a different way to show the key aspects of the cycle and at the same time make the resource appealing to students. We decided that a short animation would be suitable for such a dynamic process. To make the animation appealing and easy to remember, we decided to format it like video game. Part of the project was to evaluate whether this kind of resource was enjoyable and helped the students to learn the topic.
...A JOURNEY BEGINS
The journal article that I wrote about this animation project was published in the
Journal of Visual communication in Medicine and it was the winner of the
New Author Award on October 2017
BEHIND THE SCENES
Creating a 2D animation is a long and complex process. It's important that the workflow is very clear and that everyone is on board with every step.
First, the key messages and learning outcomes were clearly defined in order to keep our efforts focused and avoid including too much information. The cell cycle is a very complex process, so it was important to limit the content to these points.
After extensive research, I produced sketches including all of the details that we wanted to show. Based on this content, a text was written and refined for the voiceover of the animation. The aim was to keep it under 5 minutes; long enough that a lot of information can be presented but short enough that the viewer's attention is not lost in the process.
The next step was to come up with a way to represent the cell, the phases of the cell cycle and the proteins in a video game world. We decided that the cell would be a character advancing through the different levels (representing the phases) of the cell cycle.
Once the visual metaphors were clear, I designed the characters, objects and worlds and created a storyboard to show each scene step by step. That way, we were able to review it before I started working on the animations.
With the storyboard approved, I began creating the vectors for the animation. I used vector files because they are relatively easy to animate and they have nice, clean outlines.
Below you can see examples of the initial rough sketches compared to the final vector version.
Would you like to create similar visuals for online education?
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