Master's Research Project

Project details and Background

The animation was produced as per the requirements of the visualization stream in the Biomedical Communications Master's program. I collaborated with Dr. Bebhinn Treanor (Department of Immunology, University of Toronto Scarborough), Dr. Jean-Philippe Julien (Sick Kids Research Institute and Department of Biochemistry, University of Toronto), and Robert Reinhard (Global and public health consultant) to create an animation designed to inform members of the public who are affiliated with and/or are part of the HIV community about a potentially new HIV vaccine currently in research.


Despite the presence and success of non-vaccine preventative methods, the World Health Organization calls for an HIV vaccine as a necessary and significant step towards eradicating HIV/AIDS. However, awareness and support for HIV vaccine research has diminished over the years due to a perceived lack of results from the scientific community as well as lingering reservations about vaccine safety and efficacy. Unfortunately, the complexity of HIV evolution and vaccine development are not well understood by the public. Although decades of research has passed with few successful results, scientists have been researching all aspects of HIV, vaccine design and how the immune system works. With this collective knowledge, this group of scientists believe they might have a successful design  to tackle HIV. 


General, particularly subset who hold stakes in HIV research

  • Those with HIV

  • Those close to/know of people with HIV

  • Advocates

  • Funders

  • Policy makers 

  • etc. 

Communication goals

  • Instill sense of hope for the state of HIV research

  • Rouse support for continuing HIV vaccine R&D

  • Communicate the collaborative nature of scientific research to have reached this point

  • Accurately and concisely explain primary immunological response to vaccination 

  • Convey idea of B-cell affinity maturation in a digestable manner

  • Highlight significance of why HIV has been a challenge to overcome 


April 2017

Preliminary Literature Review

Science (HIV pathogenesis and mechanism of action, HIV vaccine studies, nanoparticle use, significance) and visual communication strategies (animation and health communication for lay audience, attitudes about vaccines, misunderstandings about HIV, social need for vaccine). 


July 2017

Story direction, scientific content, audience, tone, and length are established based on the needs of the client and end goal/purpose of the project.


Aug 2017

Script writing

This forms the narration for the animation and serves as the fundamental framework for the storytelling. 


Feb 2018


Storyboards aim to tell the visual story that will be accompanied by the script. Key characters, environments, visual metaphors and transitions are established.  

Drafting samples from the 6th and 7th iteration

Sample with camera direction and narration from 8th iteration


Mar 2018


Animatics put the storyboard into motion, timing the visual story to the narration and creating the basis for the final animation. Pacing, key timing, transitions and general animations are fleshed out.  


May 2018

Look Development and Asset Building

Visual styles, rendering styles, shading, lighting, colours, font styles etc. are explored. Set and character 2D and 3D assets are created in Illustrator and Maya respectively. 

Moodboard for colour palette inspiration

Coloured storyboards

Style and colour iterations of the HIV model

PDB and model samples for antibodies and microbes to be used 

© 2018 by Lisa Qiu

All rights reserved.