Mode of Action animations (MOA’s) explain how a drug or medical device works within the body, to treat a condition, or improve health outcomes.
You can use Mode of Action videos (MOA videos) to communicate with a huge variety of audiences, with the content adapted to the viewers’ level of understanding.
In the Healthcare world, the level of complexity and assumed medical knowledge required will therefore vary. For instance the general public will require different messaging compared to industry media, or HCPs (Health Care Practitioners).
What do they do?
Typically healthcare, medical, pharmaceutical companies, and health charities will commission MOA videos. Though, during the COVID-19 crisis news broadcasters widely used MOA animations to explain how coronavirus operates and how vaccines might work.
For pharmaceuticals and manufacturers an MOA video needs to educate an audience, but it also needs to tell a story. An MOA should communicate the challenge and opportunity, the significance of the treatment and how it works. To put it another way: this is the BIG moment when years of medical research and financial investment are put on stage. These years of hard work will be summarised in just a minute or two of content! It should leave viewers understanding the relevance of the technology and feeling excited about the possibilities that any research or treatment now bring.
Knowing your audience is key
As MOA video audiences can vary so much, the complexity of the content, and the type of language used, should also vary accordingly.
At LIQUONA, we believe that no matter how complex the content, no MOA video should be dull.
Unfortunately, far too many MOA videos are lack-lustre. The opportunity is often missed to explain to the world with fanfare and conviction the significance of the treatment or medical breakthrough that has been achieved. Intelligent content does not have to be dry, boring or poorly presented – so why is it so often?
A fear of dumbing down the science is one possible reason for poorly produced MOA videos. However, in reality there is no reason why MOA videos cannot be a compelling and engaging visual feast as well as being fully informative. There are many styles of MOA video which can bring the content alive and many ways to innovate the traditional MOA format.
1. Whiteboard MOA Video
Back in ye olde days hand drawn whiteboard animations were the norm. It required careful lighting to avoid shadows and somewhat gymnastic placement of a camera over the artist and their whiteboard, tricky because the camera and the artist’s head both wanted to occupy the same position facing the artwork!
Now, a more common approach is to generate the entire animation digitally. It is still possible to use hand-drawn assets sketched on a tablet, but now these are composited together in animation software. This fully digital approach allows a greater freedom for the viewer’s perspective (still referred to as the ‘camera’) to move around the picture as the montage grows. Artistic mistakes and smudges are much more easily avoided too. Often animators will still add a hand holding a pen. This is then sped up, giving the impression that an artist is still drawing the illustrations by hand on paper.
- Whiteboard animations take viewers back to the classroom, and so give a sense of simplifying the science. They can also be most cost effective to produce, if the level of design is kept simple.
- A victim of their own success – whiteboard animations have been around for a long time and have been used extensively. The opening seconds of a ‘yet another’ standard whiteboard animation can signal to the viewer that the research, treatment or medical device that is being explained is ‘yet another’ update and not much different to everything else. It suggests that nothing special about the MOA message was deserving of its own creative treatment.
- The illustrative style can limit the way more complex processes can be visualised, especially if motion and a 3D view is needed to convey the information.
- Don’t do average!
- Take what is good about the whiteboard MOA animation and improve on it to make it distinctive.
- Add some colour and apply a more designed look to the illustrations to combat it looking generic.
- Illustrations by themselves can look truly beautiful, so why limit them to simulating what a whiteboard pen can do. Style it like pencil, fine line, charcoal or digital art.
- Avoid the tiresome ‘magic’ hand and high speed pen being in shot the whole time, if at all. Pen in hand = A cliché!
- If you love that hand.. Why not let the illustrations animate in to life or engage more meaningfully with the hand which has some character of its own?
2. 2D MOA Animations
2D animation is more cost effective than 3D animation because it’s quicker to produce. These animations may lack the ability to fully visualise the form of the cells and other organic structures. However, it gains in the simplicity it employs when visualising structures in just two dimensions.
Typically 2D animations are fully digital creations, but there is no reason why they cannot incorporate and montage multimedia. Photo assets and live action footage can be ways to innovate the MOA format – go multimedia! Again, a strong design style and concept is vital to avoid a 2D animation that looks like a moving powerpoint presentation.
- Cost effective.
- Boundless creative opportunities to make highly engaging and contemporary content.
- Can apply literally any artistic and design style to the MOA format.
- Working in two dimensions presents some limitations when explaining three dimensional biological activity.
- Depending on the MOA that you need to communicate, consider if some / all content would be better visualised as 3D animation.
- Consider attractive styles of animation and design from outside of medical science. Now, explore how these could be interpreted for MOA content: It is possible!
- Let design do its thing! This means avoiding clip art and basic icons, and instead throwing wide open the creative possibilities. For example, what would it look like to explain the science in a 16 BIT retro arcade gaming design? or the style of a manga cartoon? Or in 1950’s Americana style? Or in a bright and contemporary isometric design?
- There are creative endless possibilities for your MOA and they all kick a powerpoint or magic hand animation in the Wee Jimmy Crankies.
3. 3D MOA animations
3D motion graphics are a hugely popular choice for MOA videos because it allows our microscopic world to be replicated and explained visually.
Realistic replicas of the most complex, fluid and organic processes can be convincingly recreated with stunning precision and beauty. Just like 2D animation, 3D animation ranges in the cost to produce it, depending on its complexity and production values. However, the upper end of 3D will become more costly than other formats.
- Anything and everything can be visualised in a 3D MOA video. There is nothing it can’t do.
- There are not many cons to 3D MOA videos other than the potential time impact. The more complex and lifelike the design, the more production time is needed at each stage of production.
- Render time may also become a consideration. Rendering means the processing time needed for a computer to digitally generate the animated video file from the designer’s designs and instructions for movement. Lifelike 3D animations can require thousands of machine hours to render a single second, meaning render farms may be needed to speed up the process.
- A competent production agency will advise and take care of the render requirements for 3D motion graphics, if they are required, but it is helpful to understand that High realism = Long render!
- Again, a world of great design outside of healthcare can inspire the creative treatment.
- The majority of 3D MOA animation videos are not truly realistic. They are abstract representations and they have an interpreted style, meaning design choices need to be made, offering the opportunity to bring great design to your MOA content.
- Choose and use complimentary colours, paying attention to the colour palettes used across the animation.
- Explore different styles of form and textures. If you want to make your MOA video something that is truly distinctive, innovative, attention grabbing and award winning (without compromising the science of course) we would suggest throwing the creative wide open to consider styles that could effectively represent and visualise the science such as:
- Origami paper models.
- Stitched ‘fabric’ style shapes and textures.
- Bright and colourful low polygon style.
- Animated Lego block animation.
- Or a microscopic ‘realistic’, cinematic style.
The MOA style that you choose will be determined by the content you want to convey, your budget and your deadline.
But none of these factors should mean that your MOA video should be dull and boring.
Need some ideas for your MOA video? Contact LIQUONA here: