Once again the esteemed Biomedical Communications Alumni Association hosted its annual one-day “un-conference” this past November at the University of Toronto St. George campus. This event helps practitioners at all levels in the field gain insights into the activities and projects of students, professors, and alumni of the BMC program, as well as kindred spirits in closely related industries. It’s a day of inspiring talks, networking , and an all around celebration of our common love of all things art and science. Recordings of the talks will be made available soon on the BMCAA youtube channel–subscribe to get notified when they’re posted! Here’s a sneak peek at alumni Stuart Jantzen’s presentation on his voyage into becoming a full-time YouTuber and Patreon content producer.

This year’s UnCon included well-anticipated presentations by some of Toronto’s medical illustrator all-stars. Joyce Hui of AXS Studio graciously shared an in-depth look into her storyboarding process for medical animation development. Known for her elegant watercolour illustrations through her Instagram handle, rurupoi, Joyce is well-known for her powerful visual storytelling coupled with dynamic and impactful illustrative prowess. Attendees at this year’s UnCon were also blessed with presentations by industry behemoths Chris Bahry of Tendril Studio, and Jocelyne Meinert of Little Blackstone Inc, who both dazzled an entranced audience with their impressive demo reels and industry insights.

Storyboarding for Medical Animation by Joyce Hui.

Keeping your fingers clean for Inktober by Nick Woolridge.

Quench: A Brief Art Postmortem by Axon Interactive.

This year’s speaker line-up was packed with so many 3D gurus, the audience wouldn’t have been the least bit shocked to see Dr. Strange waltz right through the room for a moment only to vanish back into the mirror realm. In the medical illustration community,

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is the beating heart of absolute mastery in 3D medical animation. Leading the foray into 3D production, BMC professor and Cinema4D aficionado Nick Woolridge took us through his early explorations that led to a volley of beautiful renders posted on social media for a digital twist on the annual Inktober challenge. Armed with experience in academia and industry, Stuart Jantzen, the brain and brawn of Biocinematics, reflected on his recent animation production efforts, which included his ongoing apprenticeship of the enigmatic Houdini visual effects software. Stuart also helped bring business insights to his discussion through his recent promotional work using Patreon.

The segue between business and medical applications is the power biomedical communicators bring to any team with their visualization abilities. Dani Sayeau from Pixel Tours demonstrated this perfectly in her presentation of the rigorous development of integrating a digital course administration tool for point of care ultrasound (POCUS) training. Sarah Shin, senior associate at Coactuate, shared her recent experiences in the world of strategy and consulting for big pharma. The audience was also given an inspiring update on a successful implementation and continuation of a Master’s Research Project (MRP) by Mark Belan: “transPLANTS”. Since the project’s initial release in 2017, Mark has seized the opportunity to develop his patient education animation for renal transplantation further, working with clinicians to illuminate the immunological and immunosuppressant aspects of the kidney transplant process.

Albert Fung of Axon Interactive and TVASurg

Naturally, a TVASurg production member was also on the podium this year, but curiously enough, it wasn’t for anything surgical. Team lead Albert Fung was instead presenting with his second digital arts family, Axon Interactive, who were joyously unveiling their long-awaited and well-earned post-mortum on the successful completion of the indie game Quench! With teammates Kristina Neuman and Tabby Rose, Albert dove into the production process and shared successes and struggles alike.  Albert’s overview of working through the challenges of rigging various animals, matching his modelling methodology to sync with the game aesthetic, and texture optimization showed remarkably how his 3D abilities bridge multiple platforms and applications.

We'll be looking forward to next year's UnCon, but in the meantime, you can get regular updates on the activities of BMC alumni on the BMCAA website!

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