Q: Who uses scientific animation and why?
A: Scientific animations are commissioned by directors and producers of both factual and fictional programming to explain concepts to lay audiences. Photo-real 3D animations immerse audiences in cellular and molecular landscapes, going where physical cameras cannot. While clips created in a hand-crafted style can make complex concepts more approachable and preserve the “human” angle.
Scientific animation is also used in secondary and post-secondary education and in museum exhibits on a wide range of scientific subjects from human genetics to the physics of sound.
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 because, after all, seeing is believing.
Q: Do I need someone who specializes in science vs. a regular animator?
A: If scientific accuracy and credibility matter, then yes. We create visualizations that stand up to scrutiny by experts, which helps when you have expert stakeholders in your production. We get the visuals right the first time, which saves our clients time, effort and money — especially important on deadlines and fixed budgets.
Q: How do clients say AXS Studio is different?
A: 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.
Q: Why hire AXS Studio over another animation company?
A: 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.
Q: Do you create scientific animation for museum exhibits?
A: 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.
Q: Do you create animations and stills for on-set use (e.g. playback)?
A: Yes, we’ve done this a number of times, particularly for use on monitors during filming.
Q: What determines the cost of scientific animation?
A: The run-time (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.
Q: What is included in the cost of a scientific animation?
A: 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; custom or stock music. Script writing is also optional, as many clients come to us with finished scripts.
Q: How long does a scientific animation take to make?
A: 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 one hour documentary. Most documentary projects we’ve worked on have spanned 3–6 months for the animation production.
A typical 3 minute animation for a biotech or medtech business can take 3–4 months to complete. This time includes content development, design, production, and multiple stages of client review: script, storyboard, and roughcut and prefinal versions of the animation.
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.
Q: Can I provide my own storyboard?
A: 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.
Q: I’m aware that some animation companies outsource or “offshore” to low- cost producers. Does AXS do this?
A: 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. 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 scientific animation companies that do use low-cost foreign animation production. If you’re considering hiring one of these studios, we advise first inquiring about the scientific training of their staff.
Q: Do you sell stock scientific animation?
A: We don’t. All AXS Studio scientific animations are created custom for our clients’ specific projects.
Q: I’m a filmmaker, when should I contact you?
A: We are happy to (and love to!) see earlier treatments and scripts to provide rough costs and timelines for funding and pitches. The ideal time for us to begin work is after the rough cut is completed.