The Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (or AllerGen) is a national research network funded by Industry Canada through the Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program. The network of researchers continue to develop many studies to improve the state of allergies and asthma in our country and worldwide. I was excited when they approached me to help explain one of these studies and engage a broad audience of investors, doctors, researchers, patients and the general public.

Our goal was to create a 3-4 minute whiteboard video that would focus on one study in particular, called the CHILD study. The description is as follows:

Over 3,500 children involved in the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Study could change Canada’s approach to fighting allergies, asthma and chronic diseases. This is one of the largest birth cohort studies in the world to look in depth at how genes and the environment interact to cause allergies and other diseases. Scientists believe findings from the CHILD Study will influence everything from health policy and building codes to parenting decisions for decades to come.  

Once the project was kicked off, we met to discuss the script and develop the story of the video. Our goal was to explain the Child study accurately and in a voice that the average Canadian could follow. We had to dig deep to determine the best language to communicate the story and decide which statistics would be the most important to the intended audience.

Allergen Project Research and Sketches

Our storyboards were roughed out and shared amongst many scientists and researchers to ensure the information was accurate. I was careful to design characters and images to include all our desired audiences and with the open collaboration with Allergen, together we discovered a wealth of great ideas for each shot.

We worked closely with Allergen to develop the perfect story.

From our early meetings with Allergen, I learned they were not keen on having a human hand draw out the images as is traditional with whiteboard video. Instead, they requested that the images be revealed through line only. I was happy to accommodate a new style of whiteboard video and learned this style required great care in how the images were masked out in the Animation software. Technically, the animation process for this video was intense. With a focus on line paths and camera animation, I had my work cut out for me. I learned a lot about camera animation principles, render techniques and was faced with a great deal of troubleshooting.

A Screenshot of my work in After Effects. The tool of animation champions!

In the end, the video was a huge success. Allergen has received excellent feedback, thus far and I am thrilled to hear the video is being used in many facets of the organization. The best part is that more people can learn about all the awesome work that is being done for allergies and asthma. I was honoured to be a part of this process and truly enjoyed working with Allergen.

Here's a client testimonial:

Sandra created a compelling whiteboard video to highlight our Network’s research on the early-life origins of asthma and allergies. Through her engaging illustrations and animation, Sandra transformed complex scientific concepts into a wonderful story about what the researchers have found and why the work is important. Sandra listens to her client’s needs and was very flexible to provide us with revisions and edits to accommodate our researchers’ feedback. I highly recommend Sandra to prospective clients. I would love to work with her again.

-Kim Wright - Communications and Knowledge Mobilization at AllerGen NCE

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