When I was learning about Molecular Genetics, I got stuck at a point where I was unable to understand the term Replication of DNA. I went on YouTube to see if any videos could help me. While searching I found an amazing animated video that helped me not only understand but also visualize the concept. Such animation videos made for a better understanding of Molecular Biology are called Molecular animations and the people that make them are called Molecular Animators.
Unlike molecular diagrams given in textbooks, molecular animations provide an intuitive look into the motions of molecules. Animation make us visualize the molecule which cannot be seen. The viewer can immerse themselves in the path and actions of the molecule in question. Such an experience includes:
- Display of molecule in an animated movie
- Manipulation of molecule in real-time, as during a simulation
- Visualization of the normal modes of vibration – “molecular breathing”
- Monitoring of geometries, including distances, volumes, bond angles, etc.
- Visualization of conformational space.
You might be surprised to know that before 2000, there were only simple drawings of processes like Transcription or Replication of DNA for students to visualize that topic. Even scientists or any biologists did not have any medium other than drawings to convey their research to people. The reason for this could be the lack of animation technology and the lack of professionals who had adequate knowledge of using animation. A professional animator can require one year or more to finish a video about the process of Spindle Fibers Formation.
But I think the advantages of animation videos are worth it. I have realized that watching animation allows us to understand the process very well. As a 12th standard student, I have come across many problems while learning concepts like White Blood Corpuscles. But watching such animated videos have always helped me. It has given me and many students a new way to think about the process and how to apply it in our day to day life. Research also tells us that using visualization and vivid pictures helps us to retrieve that concept easily because watching video is a multi-sensory experience.
After knowing about molecular animation, let us understand how molecular animators make these animation videos?
A Molecular Animator works with researchers to animate the microscopic molecule. The molecules are smaller than the wavelength of light so you cannot see them even with the best Electron microscope. Can you imagine how difficult it must be for them to animate such a thing?
A Molecular animator is a person who has pursued Biology and also has a great interest in computer animation. So they perform several experiments. Now they take that idea and start to animate molecules. Softwares mostly used by an animator are Molecular Flipbook, Adobe flash, bio blender, etc.
I think modern-day students want some innovative way to make their studies more easy and more fun to do. The animation could become one of them. Students like me who have an interest in biology, as well as art, can also have a great career ahead in this field. So, I think Molecular animation can change the way of learning and teaching Biology in Future.
What do you think about this?
You can also watch some molecular animation videos on topics like
The action of ATP Synthase: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXpzp4RDGJI