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Emanuel Henné

Founder of

It's my pleasure to introduce you to Emanuel, founder of PXLRY, computer animator and storyteller.

It would be great to show you also his latest animation but it's still rendering... So, I guess we'll have to get back to Emanuel in the future again.

Sciencemotionology: When and how did you decide to start making scientific animations?


Emanuel: I started doing scientific/medical artwork when I was studying at the university. Our professor approached me and a fellow student about a job for the local hospital. One of the doctors there created some learning applications for students of medicine and required real-time 3D models of organs.


Sciencemotionology: Most studios making scientific animations combine people with a scientific profile with others from an arts background. What’s your background? Did you take a course on design or animation?


Emanuel: I studied design and graduated at Academy of the Arts, with emphasis on computer animation, storytelling and interaction design.

Sciencemotionology: Do you have a work you’re most proud of and why?


Emanuel: I kind of like the Ebola membrane close up. When doing research for the virus, I learned a lot about how it works and what makes it so successful as an organism.

Sciencemotionology: How much time do you spend in research for each project?


Emanuel: Research is essential, and it takes several iterations to get it right. But the more you research, the more you learn about patterns and similarities. It usually takes several days to get into a new subject, and the research actually doesn't end until the project is done. Its not only researching the subject, but researching the best way to actually show what you want to show, keeping in mind what you need to show.


Sciencemotionology: Which tools and software are essential for you to make your animations?


Emanuel: Chimera and PyMol when it comes to microcellular animations. My main tools for modeling and animation are Lightwave 3D, Cinema 4D and zBrush, plus of course Photoshop for textures and After Effects for editing and compositing.

Sciencemotionology: We can't really see what's happening inside the cell with our bare eyes. Where do you find the inspiration to fill the gaps science cannot answer, when making an animation? 


EH: That inner cosmos is a very strange and exotic place, very exciting, so if you think in movie terms, cinematography, you pretty easily can come up with interesting, epic images and scenes. One of the big influences on my artistic ambitions came from watching "The fantastic voyage" and "Innerspace" which was and still is an awesome experience. I always try to find the sense of wonder inherent in the studies of life and living things, and our body is such a wonder of nature that it never gets boring, it rather gets more fascinating the more You learn.

Sciencemotionology: What’s your perception on how scientific animations are accepted in Germany, by lay people, pharmaceutical companies or researchers?


Emanuel: Since we rarely experience the final reaction to our work, I can only say that working with scientists and researchers often shows that they are fascinated about the pictures we can create digitally, and that the way we can make the invisible seen amazes them. I can't say anything special about Germany that would not also fit the rest of the world.

What I can say is that in terms of teaching, visualizing and information, movies are very much appreciated, but the future is also bright for interactive learning applications that not only show a movie but also allow for interaction with the subject.

Being right there, in the cell membrane, seeing what happens as it happens, through Head Mounted Displays, being able to stop, rewind, zoom, rotate, is something spectacular and will be part of the medical and pharmaceutical presentations and visualizations.

"...required real-time
3D models of organs."
© Emanuel Henné
"...researching the best way to actually show what you want to show."
© Emanuel Henné
"That inner cosmos is a very strange and exotic place"
© Emanuel Henné
"Being right there,
in the cell membrane,
seeing what happens as it happens..."
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