MadMicrobe Welcomes Melissa Hough to our Team!

Melissa_picMelissa is an artist who was raised in the Philadelphia area. With a longtime passion for the arts, science, writing, and reading, Melissa has always sought ways to bring together her various interests. She attended Boston University, where she received a BFA in painting in 2016. She has since returned to the Philadelphia area, where she held a position at Art Dept. Studios before joining the team at MadMicrobe Studios. She is excited to begin this new phase in her career and looks forward to learning and growing with MadMicrobe Studios. Outside of her career, Melissa enjoys traveling, experimenting with various visual art forms, playing tug-of-war with her pit bull, and spending time with family and friends.

MadMicrobe welcomes Andy Lefton!

MadMicrobe proudly welcomes our new lead 3D Generalist, Andy Lefton to our growing team!

Andy is an award winning 3D/VFX artist, illustrator and director with over 12 years of experience working within all realms of the animation industry, from medical animation to high-end cinematic effects and filmmaking.

With his extensive knowledge in the field, Andy is accustomed to wearing many hats and strives to push the envelope and stay ahead of this exciting and ever-changing industry.

In his spare time, Andy not only works on his own clever and creative animation shorts, but is also guitarist in a metal band. Andy is a rockstar in every sense of the word and we look forward to the talent, skills and enthusiasm he brings with him to our studio.


Building Brain Cells with NeuronBuild Scripts

Purkinge (00000)
Purkinje cell generated via the NeuronBuild scripts and rendered in Cinema 4D

Nick Woolridge, Professor and Director of Biomedical Communications at the Institute of Medical Science at the University of Toronto has recently updated his NeuronBuild python script for Cinema 4D, and has also just released a new script for ZBrush. The scripts allow the user to pull actual neuron morphology data  from the online repository and generate 3d models for use in either program.

Nick has generously provided these scripts for free on GitHub and they are not only useful for visualizing neuronatomy in medical illustration and animation, but are also extremely addictive and fun to work with. Thanks Nick!

The image above depicts a Purkinje cell, which is a type of neuron found in the cerebellar cortex of the brain. The morphology data was pulled from the NeuroMorpho site (see below).

Screenshot 2017-03-11 10.48.47

The data was imported as zSpheres into ZBrush via Nick’s zScript. At this stage the spheres can be edited, deleted (etc) based on your needs, and then can be baked into geometry via the Adaptive Skinning function in ZBrush. The model was then sent to Cinema 4D via the GoZ script for texturing, and rendering.

Screenshot 2017-03-11 10.47.45

You can check out Nick’s video walkthroughs for the C4d and ZBrush python scripts below.


MadMicrobe adds an ADDY to our awards shelf

Another exciting week! MadMicrobe won another award for their Life Science reel “WONDERS WITHIN” at the 2017 Digital ADDY Awards hosted by the Philly Ad Club.

We are proud and humbled, not to mention inspired to continue pushing our creative ideas further in the coming year and getting more of our work out there.


We were also delighted to learn that our friends at Pretty Damn Sweet also cleaned up with a handful of awards, including two Silver ADDYs for their Adobe Summit and Adobe MAX show openers, each of which we had the pleasure of contributing to. Great job guys!




MadMicrobe welcomes Alan Smith to the team!


3daf3f0MadMicrobe Studios has officially begun proliferation! 😉 

We are very excited to announce the addition of our new Associate Animation Director, Alan Smith! Alan is not only a seasoned medical animation generalist but will be overseeing our client expansion into the UK.

With over ten years experience as director of animation in both the life science and broadcast industries, as well as receiving Master’s Degrees in both the sciences and the arts, Alan brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and outstanding artistic talent with him.

Alan has a relentless passion for creating animations that tell a great story and enlighten an audience. An artist at heart as well as a technical problem solver well versed in current CG techniques, Alan is the perfect addition to our growing team and we are looking forward to making beautiful animated blobs together.

An MOA from Script to Screen: 17 Tips to Get a Killer Animation Produced For Your Event


This article originally appeared on LinkedIn

You’re a Brand Manager for a Pharmaceutical Corporation, a Product Director at a Biotech Company, or perhaps a Creative Director at a Healthcare Marketing Agency. You’re responsible for the launch of an exciting new therapeutic product scheduled to make its debut at an upcoming trade show, but you still need a stunning MOA animation for the show.

There’s still plenty of time for that, right?

There are several trade show and conference events within the healthcare industry taking place throughout the year. Lets pretend its the  beginning of February and we will focus on the process of producing animation for the upcoming ASCO conference on June 2nd of this year

ASCO is still 4 months away so why should you begin developing your animation now?

From script to screen, a comprehensive 3-minute Mechanism of Action video can take anywhere from 3-4 months to complete. If you’ve got a target deadline that coincides with a show coming up in that time frame, there is still time to take action and find the perfect animation team to produce your MOA.

Here are a few tips to help maximize your ability to receive the most effective and beautiful digital assets for ASCO or any other target event.


Lets take a look at the typical production process for a 3-minute animation.


Your script is the foundation for a successful animation. It will communicate the intricate mechanisms of a disease state, and the function of the therapeutic process, but the story also needs to be engaging. A script can take an average of 4 weeks to research, write, refine, and enter the legal review process. 

  • TIP 1: Take this opportunity to strike the perfect balance between storytelling and science messaging in a way that will keep your audience engaged.
  • TIP 2: The animation team can always begin development with a general story outline so don’t rush the process. Spend this time creating a clear and appealing narrative.

THREE MONTHS TO GO: Visualizing Look & Feel with Styleframes

While the script is in development, your animation team will begin designing the players and environments in your story. Molecules, cellular environments, devices and anatomical representations will be brought to life in 3D renderings, aka: Styleframes. This process can take 2-3 weeks depending on the level of complexity or number of elements needed to tell the story.

  • Tip 3: Take this time to not only weigh in with the animation team on scientific accuracy but ask yourself if the artwork reflects the appropriate level of complexity OR simplicity for the target audience.
  • Tip 4: Determine if the imagery needs to reflect the branding guidelines, or does it need to stand apart stylistically from the current branding. 
  • Tip 5: Identify the preferred color palette and mood that the artwork needs to convey. For instance, do you want your drug/product to appear bright and shiny to visually communicate its role as the hero? Maybe you want the disease-initiating molecule to be of a darker, hotter color so it can be easily identified as the antagonist of the story.
  • Tip 6: If 3D models will need to be revised, it will have much less of an impact on production at this stage than when animation production has already been completed. Try to make sure everyone on your team weighs in on the styleframes, including the end client.

TWO AND A HALF MONTHS TO GO: Finding the Visual Flow with Storyboards

Your Animation team will usually need 2-3 weeks to produce storyboards depending on the complexity of the science.

  • Tip 7: Are you easily able to follow the story along visually from frame to frame without confusion? Try to make sure the boards not only capture the intricacies of the science story, but also follows a clear, linear narrative. 
  • Tip 8: Are there any areas where the narration covers too many details within a sentence? What works on paper may be tricky to capture visually in animation. The audience will need enough time to absorb the action onscreen. It’s OK to expand on the verbiage of the script where needed if it will help the pacing and flow of the animation. Animation studios want to produce the best results for you and an increase in word count that is beneficial to the clarity of the animation shouldn’t usually affect your budget.
  • Tip 9: This is also a great time to receive feedback from your animation team. Lean on their experience and creative advice to achieve a more fluid, visual story flow, which may require some minor structural changes to the script.

TWO MONTHS TO GO: Lets Start Animating!

Once storyboards are refined and approved, your team will begin the animation process. A rough, unpolished animatic may be provided first for initial feedback and then further refined into a second, and eventually a final pass. Towards the end of this stage, professional narration will be recorded and music and sound effects will be composed and mixed into the final video. This process of animation from rough animatic to approved final pass can take an average of 6-8 weeks.

  • Tip 10: Consider the expertise, experience and creative sensibility of your animation studio. They can provide great ideas and solutions throughout the process to various creative challenges.
  • Tip 11: The animation stage, especially the final pass, is the most time intensive stage of the project. Communication is important. Try to chime in early with any major changes to the script, look or action as early as possible to avoid any challenging last minute crunches that could jeopardize deadlines. 
  • Tip 12: Stuff happens, but if possible, try to keep to the agreed upon schedule and avoid any sudden acceleration of the timeline or addition of content. 
  • Tip 13: Make sure you’ve identified when all deliverables need to be received, including additional ancillary assets that may need to be produced. 
  • Tip 14: Find out when the AV vendor at the booth will need to test and receive the animation and be sure to identify the digital formats they require. For instance, if the booth will have vertical LED screens, and your animation team has already produced the animation in landscape format, remedying this situation can sometimes be a challenge later in the schedule. Be sure to communicate your format needs early in the process.
  • Tip 15: Be sure to communicate the appropriate mood and style of the music/sound design.
  • Tip 16: Your animation team will push themselves to create the best results they can. They will want to express their creative expertise through dynamic animation techniques and cutting edge CG tools. Animators love to let their imagination run wild, but sometimes they can go overboard! Be sure to share your feedback if you feel the animation is looking more like Star Wars than an educational science video, and the story is getting lost in the process. But by all means, if you are looking to produce a fascinating visual journey with all the bells and whistles, a skilled and talented animation team can deliver that too.

TWO WEEKS TO GO: Client Feedback and Legal Reviews

  • Tip 17: These necessary review stages can easily add an extra 2-3 weeks to any production schedule. The larger the review team, the more voices will need to be heard. This can sometimes cause delays when attempting to gather everyone’s feedback. Try to be sure reviews are factored in from the start and that all science consultants understand the importance of sticking to the review schedule.


Your MOA should now be in your hands and ready to go! Enjoy the accolades for producing a beautiful and effective crowd-pleasing animation in time for your event.

But what if you don’t have 3 to 4 months in your schedule? Will your animation studio be able to deliver the MOA sooner?

Yes. Animation studios are often required to accelerate production in order to accommodate shortened timelines and can still deliver on time; however, there are a few consequences to this scenario that you may want to consider.

In order to get more animation produced within a short time frame, studios may either need to put additional animators on the job, or acquire more rendering power which can increase the budget. The complexity of the animation may also need to be simplified and the length of the script reduced as well.

These decisions can potentially impact the quality and character of your MOA. A “high-end” science animation, for example can take more time and effort to produce than an animation that is less visually complex. As a solution to meeting the shortened deadline, you may be offered the simpler “Style B” animation solution which could be the most effective path to success, but not as appealing as the high-end “Style A”. This doesn’t mean your product will be inferior or inaccurate in any way, but it can mean that you could have missed an opportunity to produce the MOA that elevates your brand in more dynamic and exciting ways.

When you choose to produce an MOA animation you are investing lots of time and budget into an effective, accurate, and esthetically pleasing product that will help your brand make a significant impact. To get optimal results, consider giving your animation team as well as your own marketing, creative and science teams the time to fully work through this creative process from the start.

To conclude, if you are planning to hire an animation partner to develop your MOA assets for the upcoming ASCO show on June 2nd, consider that you probably should be looking to secure an animation studio very soon, optimally within the next 2 weeks. No pressure!

Our 2016 AMI Salon Award of Excellence!


I had the pleasure of attending my first Association of Medical Illustrators (AMI) meeting this past July in Atlanta. There is so much talent, knowledge and inspiration to be experienced at these meetings and we are looking forward to attending more in the future.

While I was there, I got to meet many artists who I’ve admired for years, as well as get the chance meet up with friends and colleagues I haven’t seen in quite a while, including some of the folks at Maxon USA. I also got the chance to meet many artists and science professionals who I wouldnt have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. It was a great experience.

We also entered our reel “Wonders Within” into the Salon Award Competition and came out with an Award of Excellence in the category of “Animation Advertising and Marketing /Promotion”. Our award finally showed up in the mail today!

We are of course very honored for the recognition of the AMI and motivated to continue our journey towards greater artistic excellence in the field of Science and Medical Animation / BioVisalization. Looking forward to sharing some more exciting MadMicrobe news in the near future. Now, time to get back to animating blobs…