Frequently Asked Questions

Experience & Expertise

What types of animation does Nucleus create?

Nucleus specializes in creating original 3D medical/scientific animations – depicting scenes at gross anatomical, cellular, and molecular levels. Nucleus has the ability to create 3D elements that can be used to create Virtual Reality (VR) or Augmented Reality (AR) videos, but does not offer services to create VR, AR, or interactive videos. Nucleus does not create 2D animations. Nucleus has the ability to incorporate stock photography and video clips, motion graphics, and live-action video into the animations they create, but Nucleus does not provide videography, photography, or graphic design services – those assets need to be owned and provided by the client.

Where may I have seen Nucleus animations?

Nucleus’s medical illustrations and animations can be found on over 1,000 hospital and private practice websites in the U.S. You may also have seen them on Nucleus’ YouTube channel.

How many years has Nucleus been creating 3D animations and for whom?

Nucleus has been creating medically accurate, custom illustrations and 3D animations for over twenty years, serving the legal, pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and education markets.

What is the makeup and level of training of the custom services production team?

The Nucleus production team consists of full-time medical writers, illustrators, and animators who have earned graduate degrees in their craft, from prestigious institutions, including the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, the Medical College of Georgia, and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Specialists in project management and video post-production round out the talent.

How does Nucleus ensure scientific and medical accuracy?

Creating an accurate Nucleus medical animation starts with detailed research, sourcing, and script writing by the Editorial Team of writers and editors, all of whom have Master of Science Degrees from CAAHEP-accredited programs in the U.S. They use tools such as UpToDate, an evidence-based clinical resource used by physicians, to gain access to the latest published information.

More uniquely, this team has decades of experience creating medical animations, having developed over 1,200 in the past 30 years in the profession. This ensures not only accuracy, but also that the medium suits the message.

After the script and storyboard are approved by your medical experts, the Medical Animation Team begins creating models and scenes based on the written information and visual references from sources such as anatomy and physiology texts, SEM photography, microphotography, computer modeling software, etc. The animators also have Master of Science or Art degrees from CAAHEP-accredited U.S. universities, along with collective decades of experience, and so are capable of creating highly accurate content.

If desired, you may request an independent review of the content by Nucleus’ Medical Review Board, a group of 80+ medical experts, including MDs, PhDs, and professional educators.


Why is it necessary to have one primary purpose for an animation?

The purpose of an animation can vary, affecting the content of the narration and visual portrayal of the topic. For example, two common (but very different) purposes for animation are 1) education or 2) marketing. If your primary goal is to educate your audience, the narration would include non-promotional facts about the topic, along with visuals that clearly display your topic. If your primary goal is to market to your audience, the narration would primarily include promotional features and benefits of your topic, along with visuals featuring your subject in its best possible light (i.e. “beauty shots”). Choosing a primary purpose enables us to tailor both the narration and visuals to best match your intended goal for the animation, and thus have the intended effect on your audience.

Why is it necessary to have one primary audience for an animation?

Audiences can vary widely in their knowledge level, motivations, desires, and needs, all of which affect the information shown in the animation. If an animation has multiple target audiences (ex. general public who want to know what medicine to take and scientists who want to know why a medicine is effective), the resulting narration is either too basic for people with deep knowledge of the subject or too difficult to understand for people with little or no knowledge of the subject. Choosing one primary audience enables us to tailor the level of terminology in the narration, as well as the complexity of the visuals, to more closely match the knowledge level of your audience, improving their engagement with the animation.

What is a medical animation script and why is it necessary?

There is an old adage: “If it’s not on the page, it’s not on the stage.” A medical animation script is a guiding document that includes the narration (if desired) for the animation along with detailed written descriptions of animated sequences that will be shown with each sentence of narration. References from reliable sources are cited throughout the script to support the accuracy of the visuals and narration.

The script allows clients to perfect their messaging and determine what will be shown before animation begins, with the goals of a faster, more efficient animation process and less revisions throughout production. The script is also the guide for the Medical Animation Team, who use it to envision the action that will make your project come to life.

Can I write my own animation script?

Yes, BUT unless you have experience writing medical animation scripts, it is strongly discouraged. After writing successful, award-winning animations for 25 years, the Nucleus Team will save you time and frustration by focusing on your message and avoiding common mistakes such as having an ill-defined target audience, an overly broad purpose, or simply writing too much when showing an animated segment will do. The end result is a production that flows well and tells a clear, coherent, and engaging story.

Will I get a chance to provide feedback on the script?

Yes! The script production process includes multiple rounds of review and revision. It is strongly recommended that all stakeholders review and mark up the script until everyone on your team is satisfied, and the script is approved. This helps to ensure a smoother production process and minimize major revisions after the script moves into the storyboard and animation phases of production.

How is the length of the animation determined?

The Nucleus team will talk with you about the intended length of the animation. As a general rule, one minute of animation is about 120 words of narration spoken at a conversational pace. For example, if you want a two-minute animation, you would have a narration word count limit of about 240 words. We recommend including narration in the animation to help with the pacing of the animation, as well as provide another way to engage the viewer with your content.

What is the average length of an animation?

Because viewer attention spans can wane quickly, Nucleus recommends keeping animations to under three minutes. Procedural videos that need to take a viewer through multiple steps tend to run longer (but are intended to be viewed more often), while animations focused on marketing tend to be shorter.

How long does it take to make an animation?

The time it takes to make an animation depends on the intended runtime (length) of the animation and the complexity of the storytelling. In general, if an animation is to be narrated and Nucleus is writing the script, it will take two weeks to complete the final script, and for each minute of animation runtime, an additional thirty days of production to complete the animation. These durations factor in multiple client reviews for each phase of development, with each client review taking three to five days to complete. An average animation runs about two minutes in length, and takes two-and-a-half to three months to complete.

What is the production process for creating an animation?

Nucleus takes a collaborative approach to developing animations, providing clients the opportunity to review drafts of the animation’s script (narration and visual descriptions), then the storyboard (scene-by-scene, visual depiction of what is seen on-screen in sync with the narration), then animatics (rough cuts of the animation). For each of these three phases of development, Nucleus typically creates two to three drafts, building on the client’s feedback on initial drafts, to compete subsequent drafts. Nucleus does not begin work on animatics until the client has approved the storyboard, and does not begin work on the storyboard until the client has approved the script.

What will you need from me to get started on the animation?

If Nucleus is writing the script, we will need to know your intended audience, the intended purpose of the animation, a prioritized outline of key points you’d like to make in the animation, along with approved references to cite in the script before we start writing. During your reviews of the script, storyboard, and animatic phases of production, we will need timely collated feedback from all stakeholders on your team, and approvals of each stage of production, so we can stay on schedule and meet your deadline.

Does Nucleus outsource or subcontract any of its production?

Nucleus uses only its employees to create custom animations and illustrations for our clients, and does not outsource or subcontract the production work to other production studios or individuals. Nucleus does subcontract some aspects of content production out to individuals from time to time, to support the development of its own proprietary products.

What is the difference between HD and 4K? When does it matter?

The display of an HD video (1080p) is 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels, and delivers higher contrast (the color range between the lightest and darkest tones in an image) than SD (360p). 4K refers to the resolution of the image and has four times as many pixels as 1080p. 4K does not improve the contrast of an image, but delivers a sharper, more defined image due to the increased number of pixels available to render the image. If you intend to view your video on a webpage or presentation slide, HD is more than sufficient, and it’s not worth the extra costs and time to produce your animation’s video file in 4K. 4K is generally reserved for videos that are intended to be viewed on large format screens that can support 4K resolution.

Pricing & Usage Rights

What costs are associated with a 3D animation?

Nucleus charges a fixed price for providing voice talent and recording the voice-over (narration) for an animation, and a fixed price to purchase and apply a stock music track to an animation. Nucleus also has per finished minute pricing to write the script, and per finished second pricing to develop the storyboard and completed animation. A narrated animation with music can run between $12,000 to $28,000 per minute of finished animation, based on the market and complexity of the animation. Complexity is based on the number of environments (eg. gross level, cellular level, molecular level) in a mechanism of action (MOA) animation or complexity of steps in a medical device procedural animation.

What constitutes a rush job and what are the associated costs?

A job can incur rush fees if its production timeline is accelerated by using additional resources. This can only be done if Nucleus has resources available and deems the faster timeline to be reasonable. Rush fees are set at Nucleus’s discretion, generally 20% of the total production costs.

What rights do I have to the custom animation you create for us?

Nucleus assigns to you (the client) all rights, title and interest in and to the completed animation’s video file delivered to you. Any references, images, or support files provided to Nucleus for the purpose of developing the animation remain the property of their respective owners and copyright holders. As such, you may use the animation’s video file on any of your web properties, at trade shows, and on your social media platforms. Only the finished animation’s video file will be delivered to you. Under no circumstances will the source files created by Nucleus in the development of the animation be delivered along with the finished video file.


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