Many of us remember taking biology and anatomy courses in high school or college. We would peer into our textbooks and try to soak in the labels attached to an illustration of an animal cell. Some of us were lucky enough to crowd around a model of a skeleton at the front of the class and watch the instructor point out important anatomical landmarks.
Those of us who were able to observe a physical model of a biological structure may have noticed that it was much easier to retain information if we could see a 360-degree view of the object. If we could hold it in our hands, turn it around to look at the front and back, and maybe take different pieces of the model apart, we were able to interact with the structure enough to feel more familiar with how it looked and what the nomenclature was.
Unfortunately it is nearly impossible for a classroom to have physical models of every scientific topic that needs to be learned. However, the birth of 3D animation has made it possible for us to watch countless structures move, be taken apart, and rotate 360-degrees.
3D animations are composed of 3D models, which in the most basic terms are digital sculptures, that are manipulated and moved around throughout the course of the video. Surprisingly, the process used to make 3D models is just as mathematical as it is design-oriented. An artist is essentially creating instructions for a computer to follow in order to create the model, thus equations and geometry are taken into account to ensure that the computer is able to process the object without experiencing glitches.
Because these models are crafted to represent 3D objects or a 3D terrain, they open up the doors to a digital world that mimics the physical world we live in. 3D medical animation can exhibit clinically accurate surgeries, obscure biological processes, and isolated molecules or anatomical parts.
Instead of staring at a book and reading complicated descriptions about how our bodies work, viewers with access to computers can now watch different parts of the brain light up in glowing colors in order to learn the nomenclature, or observe the motion of glucose molecules as they interact with other structures to pass through a cell membrane.
Studies show that if viewers can be presented with learning material that connects with their creative side, the lesson will not only grab more of the audience’s attention, but will allow the audience to retain the information better because they are having fun watching the video as more active participants.
Businesses surrounding 3D animation have been responding in parallel to these communication benefits. The Market Research Gazette reports that the market has been projected to grow by 20.8% from 2016 to 2021.
As medical animation becomes more popular and receives more funding, animations will become more accessible to more learners worldwide, which will create a brighter future for our students and our healthcare.