Science Alberta: Nano Animations


It is a daunting task to make something that educates and informs while still being enjoyable to watch. It is an age old problem that had now been passed on to us. Science Alberta Foundation put us to the test with the challenge to design two short animations that would clearly illustrate the concept of the nano scale and outline the careers that utilize nano materials or develop nano technology. The shorts had to be accessible to a wide audience, be informative, enjoyable to watch and well crafted.

The first episode outlines the concept of "Nano Scale" by using objects and relationships to things that most children who are 8 and up are typically aware of. It follows a young girl character on a journey through her own body and onto the surface of a single red blood cell where she learns about the Nano Materials that make up the structures of a cell. It is energetically narrated by the quirky and fun Ratana T and animated in an artistic, hand crafted style.

The Second episode illustrates a number of exciting careers that currently utilize nano materials and nano technology. These professions range from the creators of nano technology all the way to the Race Car Drivers and Doctors that implement nano tools and materials into their practices. Each professional field is illustrated by an animated, artistically rendered, virtual set.


The concept of Nano Technology and Nano Materials seems simple on the surface, but it is vastly complex and difficult to demonstrate. We spent a significant amount of time during pre-production doing scripts, storyboards and animatics trying to get the balance right. We only had three minutes to illustrate the concept and we couldn't spend the whole 3 minutes showing charts, graphs and diagrams. Once we had finally settled on something the animation process began.

The deadline was fast approaching and not a single final piece of artwork had been done. We now had a very short time to pull off 6 minutes of animation with sound, music and narration! We quickly came to a style of animation that would serve our story while keeping the process as smooth and efficient as possible. We built a simple puppet in After Effects that was specially rigged and coded to be animated quickly while remaining empathetic. It was tricky to build and design but became very easy to animate. This saved us countless hours and improved the overall quality of the animation in the end.