Animator Creates Video Remedy for Children’s Common Medical Fears
A University of Texas at Dallas assistant professor is using his skills as an animator to ease the fears of children who may be facing a “scary” medical procedure.
Working with a physician, Sean McComber MFA’14 is developing 10 videos in a series called “Monster Docs” that will provide medical information to children in an easy-to-understand way.
“I wanted to develop an animated video that would explain common pediatric medical procedures in terms that a child would understand,” he said. “The thought was that it would make it a less-threatening experience.”
Before joining the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication, McComber worked as a character animator in Los Angeles, bringing characters such as Alvin and the Chipmunks and Yogi Bear to life in films and videos.
“”I wanted to show the information that a nurse or a doctor would give to a child or their family before they go into a procedure. It was a balancing act, because I wanted to make it entertaining and fun but, with a two-minute limit, I had to make certain that the important information was included.””
Sean McComber MFA’14, assistant professor in the School of Arts, Technology, and Emerging Communication
At UT Dallas he teaches classes in character animation, preproduction and cinematography. McComber said character animation is just one aspect of creating animated characters. On this project, he is also managing other animation tasks, such as modeling and rigging.
“I’m also responsible for the script and bringing it all together,” he said.
McComber said he chose a 2D-type of animation so that it would be less complicated and something he could complete on his own.
“Compare that to 3D, which you would use if you’re making a Pixar movie or ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks,’” he said. “3D is incredibly time- and labor-intensive.”
McComber is targeting five medical issues that are common for children: tympanostomy tubes, tonsillectomy, adenoidectomy, appendicitis and treatment of a fracture. For each one, he will develop two videos — one that discusses the symptoms and one that explains the procedure.
“I wanted to show the information that a nurse or a doctor would give to a child or their family before they go into a procedure,” McComber said. “It was a balancing act, because I wanted to make it entertaining and fun but, with a two-minute limit, I had to make certain that the important information was included.”
He is working with an emergency medicine doctor to make sure the videos are accurate and utilizing voice talent from a friend in Los Angeles. The two also hope to collaborate with a teaching hospital so the videos can be tested for effectiveness.
McComber said he wants to teach his UT Dallas students that there are many uses for animation — that they’re not just for movies.
“I’m showing them that your career doesn’t just have to be at Disney, Pixar or DreamWorks,” he said. “There are plenty of good animation jobs.”