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Scientific Animation
Beautiful and accurate 3D scientific animation and visual effects for science documentaries, films, science education and museum exhibits.

Scientific Animation

We’re artists who love science. We bring a rare blend of artistry, technical skill and scientific knowledge to animations that are as accurate as they are beautiful to watch.

We have extensive experience visualizing medical and biological subjects, including genetics, neuroscience, disease processes, microbiology and nanobiology. Our clients appreciate the value our science expertise contributes to their productions.

Who we've worked with

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The AXS Studio difference

We’re artists who love to visualize science! It shows in every scientific animation we make. And we only work on scientific and medical content, which has made us experts in high-end science animation.

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We accelerate understanding

We believe in the importance of science literacy and we know that animation makes complex scientific concepts easier to understand. When people understand these concepts, they can make informed decisions, and that’s a key reason we do what we do.

We’re serious about accuracy

Inaccurate depictions of science — especially biology and medicine — are common in film and TV, even from the most reputable studios. That’s because most CG artists lack science training. At AXS, our storyboard and concept artists and animators are all trained in science visualization. If scientific accuracy matters in your production, AXS is the animation studio to work with.

Science visualization experts

Unlike most animation studios, we employ only scientifically-trained artists and animators. Our in-house expertise saves our clients time, effort and money. Working with us, they know we’ll get the science right — the first time. And they appreciate the knowledge we contribute to their storytelling.

Biology specialists

AXS does most of our work for life sciences companies, visualizing biological and medical processes for healthcare professionals. We’re immersed in cellular and molecular realms on a daily basis and have become a go-to for producers looking to depict accurate biology.

Animation down to a science

All creative and production work is done in-house, from previsualization through modeling, animation, rendering and post-production. This affords us careful control over the design and production process, enabling us to eliminate errors and meet deadlines.

Beautiful, accurate animation

The result: Beautifully-designed scientific animation that engages and educates viewers and meets the standards of subject matter experts.
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Why invest in accurate scientific animation?

  • Seeing is believing. An accurate, well-designed scientific animation is very persuasive.
  • Accurate scientific animation adds credibility to your production, whereas inaccurate depictions of science undermine it.
  • Scientific animation makes complex concepts easier to understand for a wide ranging audience.
  • Beautiful and accurate scientific animation increases the production value of your work.
  • Visual assets from a scientific animation can be repurposed in other channels.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who uses scientific animation and why?

Scientific animations are commissioned by directors and producers of both factual and fictional programming to explain concepts to lay audiences. Because “seeing is believing”, scientific animation helps convince an audience of the director’s viewpoint and important facts being presented.

Scientific animation is also used in secondary and post-secondary education and in museum exhibits to convey a wide range of scientific subjects from human genetics to the physics of music.

Biotechnology (biotech) and medical technology (medtech) companies also commission scientific animation in order to explain their technologies to stakeholders and customers. A well-crafted animation can bridge the knowledge gap between experts and those they depend on for funding, partnerships and sales.

How long does it take to make a scientific animation?

The project timeline depends on the volume of animation required.

Broadcast projects often require multiple short (~10 second) clips that are interspersed with live- action footage. The number and length of the clips determine the total project time, which can vary widely from a TV series to a one hour documentary. Most documentary projects we’ve worked on have spanned 3–6 months for the animation production.

On average, a two minute 3D scientific animation takes four months to complete. The exact timeline depends on the review and approval process. For film and television projects, the timeline varies depending on the number and length of required shots. We recommend contacting us at least 5 months ahead of your due date.

Regardless of the nature of the production — short clips or complete animated story — we provide a detailed timeline when we quote on a project, so you’ll have a good idea of how long your animation will take to produce.

Do you create animations and stills for on-set use?
Yes, we’ve done this a number of times, particularly for use on displays during filming. For example, the creature MRIs and rapid cell growth videos for Vincenzo Natali’s Splice.
Do you create scientific animation for museum exhibits?

Yes we do. A great example is the Science of Rock N’ Roll exhibit. We created a series of animations for interactive kiosks explaining the science of sound and how musical instruments work.

Do I need someone who specializes in science vs. a regular animator?

If scientific accuracy and credibility matter, then you are best served by a specially trained animator. We create visualizations that stand up to scrutiny by experts, which helps when you have expert stakeholders involved. We get the visuals right the first time, which saves our clients time, effort and money — especially important when working with fixed deadlines and budgets.

What do clients say about AXS Studio?

We’ve surveyed our clients and the words they use most to describe our work are “beautiful” and “accurate”. We’ve also been told that our scientific content expertise is unusual and a real asset. Being able to speak the same language as the scientists associated with a film project, for example, has saved clients countless headaches and made for better, more accurate visualizations.

Why hire AXS Studio over another animation company?

Very few studios have expertise in scientific content. At AXS Studio, all we do is science. We employ only scientifically trained animators, each with a Master of Science (M.Sc.) degree in Biomedical Communications (BMC) from the University of Toronto, one of only four programs accredited by CAAHEP. This specialized training is the reason we explain complex scientific processes more clearly and depict them far more accurately than non-scientifically trained animators. For our clients, this translates into accurate visualizations that are on budget.

What determines the cost of scientific animation?

The runtime (how many seconds/minutes), resolution (e.g. HD vs. 4K) and visual complexity are the factors we use to price scientific animation. We do all previsualization and production in-house in our Toronto studio, so there are no mark-ups to pass along to clients.

What is included in the cost of a scientific animation?

This can vary among suppliers. At AXS, our pricing includes content research, storyboarding, 3D modeling, animation, lighting, shading, rendering and compositing. Audio services are priced separately, if needed. These include: professional voice-over talent, recording and editing; sound effects design; and custom or stock music. Script writing is also optional, as many clients come to us with finished scripts.

Can I provide my own storyboard?

Yes. A storyboard fulfills two purposes:

1. To pre-visualize the animation for our client, and
2. To act as a shot-by-shot roadmap for our animators.

We will happily take a look at your storyboard to see if our animators can use it in our workflow. If not, we’ll build on it to create a storyboard that works well both for you and our production team.

I’m aware that some animation companies outsource or “offshore” to low- cost producers. Does AXS do this?

We do not. All of our work is designed and produced in-house in our Toronto, Canada studio with specially trained scientific animators. This enables tight control of quality and timelines, which is important when working with fixed deadlines and budgets. Also, unlike many commoditized services that can be offshored to cut costs, accurate scientific animation requires highly specialized training.

Our storyboard artists and scientific animators hold Master of Science, Biomedical Communications (M.Sc.BMC) degrees. This specialized training and our many years visualizing scientific topics is the reason we can explain complex scientific concepts more clearly and accurately than animators without formal science training. There are animation companies that do use low-cost offshore animation production. If you’re considering hiring one of these studios, we advise first inquiring about the scientific training of their staff.

Do you sell stock scientific animation?
We don’t. All AXS Studio scientific animations are created custom for our clients’ specific projects.
Can I use images from my scientific animation in other applications, like a website and print?

Yes. You can use frames (still images) directly from the animation, at no extra charge. These are typically large enough for use in slide presentations, on websites and in smaller print materials. If you require larger images — for use on a poster, for example — we can render those at a larger size and charge only for the output. We can also render individual 3D models from an animation.

How do you ensure the right size video goes to the right device?

We make most scientific animations in the HD (high definition) or UHD (ultra high definition) standards, both 16:9 aspect ratio and 24 fps (frames per second). For broadcast projects, we typically deliver image sequences or Pro-Res, depending on the editor’s preference. For non-broadcast projects, we output video formats (MPEG-4, WebM, Windows Media, etc.) at the file sizes (bitrate and compression) and pixel dimensions best suited to the target devices.

For online video (including mobile) we optimize compression and bitrate settings and can provide multiple versions to work with responsive websites. For every project, we provide an uncompressed master animation file, from which a variety of file types and sizes can be produced.

Can I supply my own voiceover script?

Yes, we do work with voiceover scripts from our clients. After reviewing your script, we can provide recommendations to optimize the narrative for visual storytelling. A rule of thumb when writing your narration script is 100 words per minute of animation runtime.

Are special glasses needed to view 3D scientific animations?

The term 3D animation refers to using computer generated (or CG) three-dimensional models in the creation of an animated film. Movie theaters use “3D” to describe stereoscopic films, which are created using a pair of cameras to create the illusion of three dimensions on a 2D screen. AXS Studio makes both stereoscopic and standard 3D animations. Stereoscopic animations must be viewed using 3D glasses and a specialized monitor or projector. When we create a stereoscopic animation, we also deliver a “non-stereo” version that can be viewed on a regular screen without special 3D glasses. This provides our clients with flexibility: stereo for special screenings and non-stereo for standard viewing.