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About the Animation

This animation illustrating the Mandible Reconstruction Project was created by the Imaging Technology Group (ITG) staff in order to illustratethe methods and applications of the research involved. The work was created in two stages. First, soon after the completion of the initial experiment, a short version was created at the request of Medstar TV for use in a health spot for local television news programs across the country. Second, ITG extended this work into a full-fledged animation that completely tells the story of the project.

This full animation was then submitted to SIGGRAPH 2004's Computer Animation Festival, where it was selected as only one of two chosen from the scientific visualization category. SIGGRAPH is the premiere international computer graphics conference, and its computer animation festival features "...the world's most innovative, imaginative works in computer graphics and interactive techniques." These animations are submitted to the conference for juried selection from around the world. In 2004, there were 643 submissions from 40 countries--83 works were chosen for screening at the conference.


ITG periodically generates various media (still image, computer animation, video, etc.) to help illustrate scientific research topics at the Beckman Institute and University of Illinois. High-interest discoveries or research often generate significant media and public interest. These discoveries are usually first articulated through published journal papers in periodicals such as Science and Nature, and are appropriately aimed at the scientific research community and not at the general public. To best communicate these complex ideas and discoveries to all audiences, we endeavor to produce high-quality animations that share these concepts with those interested from all levels and backgrounds.

As part of this process, we also work diligently to make these animations and other illustrations as accurate as possible to the original scientific data. In the case of this piece, the CT (CAT scan) used for the slice and skull animation is the same data used for the project. The extracted jaw and constructed implant model are also taken directly from the project. The scaffold surface texture map used in the cell sequence is an SEM micrograph from the same type of scaffold structure. And the surgery photograph was taken during the actual surgery that concluded the first phase of the project.

While our facility users also produce similar media for their own projects, our staff will periodically take on topics of particular interest to the Beckman Institute. In the past, we have done work to illustrate the concept of self-healing materials by Scott White, nanotube transistor theory by Slava Rotkin, electric fish sensory theory by Malcolm MacIver and Mark Nelson, and others. Out last such video to be submitted and accepted to SIGGRAPH was in 1997, and titled Enhanced Processor Lifetime through Deuterium Processing.


The CT data animation was done using the same sotware that was used for the project--Analyze, a package for the 3D reconstruction and analysis of volumetric 3D data from the Mayo clinic. ITG staff and users use this software for a variety of research-related uses using MRI, CT, confocal microscope, microtomography, and other datasets.

The animation of the jaw model, the 'building' of the implant (animated wireframe visibility), the cell adhesion sequence, the rendering of the head model, and the lighting, shading and texturing of the entire sequence (after the CT data animation) was done using a package called Maya. Maya is a high-end 3D animation and modeling package typically used for hollywood effects. ITG has long been involved in extending Maya and other similar packages to the needs of scientific visualization.

The editing and compositing of this animation was done using, Final Cut Pro 4, a video editing package from Apple. New features used from FCP4 include its time remapping function, which allows time-stretching based on curves. Carl also did extensive compositing and editing to produce the final animation.

Production Credits

 Producer/Director:Benjamin Grosser
 Animation, Editing and Compositing:Carl Burton
 CT data animation, jaw and implant model:Janet Sinn-Hanlon


Research Credits

 Russ Jamison, PhD Materials Science and Engineering
 Michael Goldwasser, MD, DDS Carle Clinic
 Benjamin Grosser Imaging Technology Group
 Janet Sinn-Hanlon Imaging Technology Group
 Dr. Joseph Cesarano Sandia National Laboratories

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