In our previous blog, we discussed how Medical Animation evolved. This part discusses the software used in Medical Animation and the career opportunities in the field.
Era of 2D Animation
2D animation or two-dimensional animation is the creation of moving pictures, using consecutive frames of images. These successive images are placed at a rate of 24 frames per second.
2D animation is the preferred way to present medical illustrations. 2D medical animators use charts, posters, cartoons, and diagrammatic illustrations that show biological and medical processes, along with patient education booklets, newsletters and brochures that convey best practices for good health. The most popular 2D software include:
- Karbon: This is a scalable vector drawing application that allows artists to create complex drawings and turn them into high quality illustrations without losing image quality.
- Inkscape: This is an open source vector graphics editor with capabilities similar to Illustrator, and Xara X.
- SmoothDraw: This is a natural painting and digital free-hand drawing software that can produce high quality pictures.
- Xara: This software is notable for its usability and fast render. It is amongst the first software to provide a fully anti-aliased display, advanced gradient fill, and transparenct tools.
- GIMP: This is an image retouching and editing tool that allows conversion between different image formats and more specialized tasks. Animated images such as GIF and MPEG files can also be created using an animation plugin.
- PaintStar: This is a digital image processing software that allows retouching of photographs, composing and authoring images, image morphing, and screen capture.
- Synfig: This is a free and open source 2D vector graphics and timeline-based computer animation program. It is a front-end and back-end software that allows designing in the front-end and rendering it later with the backend on another computer without a connected graphical display.
- AutoCAD: This software is a 2D and 3D CAD design, drafting, modeling, architectural drawing, and engineering CAD software.
- Adobe Photoshop: This is a famous graphics editing program.
- Adobe Illustrator: This software is a vector graphics editor similar to Inkscape and Xara.
- Adobe Flash: This is a multimedia and software platform used for authoring vector graphics, animation, games, and rich internel applications.
Era of 3D Animation
3D animation is an illustration generated, using computers, giving the objects a space. As an alternative to the conventional 2D techniques, a third dimension is introduced to the images and graphics that make them appear as live objects. It provides the user an experience of virtual reality.
Advancement of 3D motion picture technology has broadened the edges of medical animations. In 1975, a group of chemists, biochemists and biophysicists from the Texas A&M University provided detailed potential applications of 3D animations for medical purpose, which was published in the journal, Science. In the late 1980s, medical animation turned out to be a separate field of study to provide scientific material to medical professionals in order to understand physiological, anatomical, molecular aspects and surgical instructions. Some of the most popular software are:
- Autodesk 3dsmax: This software gives us comprehensive rendering, animation, modeling and compositing features for motion graphics.
- Autodesk Maya: This 3D illustration/animation software provides us ample creative feature design options for 3D computer illustration, rendering, simulation, modeling and compositing..The software also includes next-gen display technology and new gear for handling complex data.
- Lightwave 3D: This software is used for a complete 3D production solution for movie and TV visual effects and 3D game design.
- Blender: This is a free to use, open-source graphics software used for developing animated movie, interactive 3D applications/models, video games and visual effects. Blender is a full feature, 3D application having all the industry standard tools like UV unwrapping, rigging and skinning, texturing, 3D modeling, smoke and fluid recreation, particle recreation, soft body recreation, camera tracking and video editing. It also features an in-built game engine.
- Anim8or: Anim8or is a free, open graphics library-based software that is used in character building, animation and 3D modeling program. The main feature of this application is a 3D modeler with primitives such as cylinders, cubes and spheres.
- Swift 3D: This is the only software that directly integrates with Adobe Flash during the Smart Layer Technology & File Imports and Exports to Microsoft XAML. Interface and toolset for Swift 3D allow to rapidly create 3D content, while giving a full set of advanced tools. It is the 3D alternative for flash users.
3D Medical Animation – Taking Medicine to the Big Screen
In the current scenario medical animation has provided effective ways to represent medical devices, mechanism of action (MOA) and drug delivery along with its complicated structures through visuals, using 3D animation. Now it is very easy to see and understand detailed surgical procedures, the interaction of prescribed drugs with cells, metabolism and other functions of the body. These animations are created for representing virtual reality. Incorporated in it is precise scientific and biological inputs, which are broadcasted and published with the use of computer graphics and animation.
The medical society is constantly searching for new ways to communicate the effect of cellular behaviour and drug actions with the general public. Medical animation is allowing the viewer to explore the finer details of their body. 3D animation is an incredibly effective tool for realizing scenes never before witnessed by the naked eye.
If today 3d animation is assisting in explaining medical therapies may be 4D could be used in guiding the live therapies, making it one of the most challenging and amazing career opportunities for students who are interested in both animation and science.
Read our other blog on steps involved in making medical animation videos.