Ruth Chang 

Although visually stunning and rich in information, many of the currently available medical animations use a communication strategy that is explicit and direct, broken down into steps to highlight a process or pathology. While didactically effective, the result is an emotional disconnection between the viewer and the content; there is nothing to emotionally invest the viewer in what is being shown. This is to be expected; after all, we are scientists, and we have been trained to present ideas logically and clinically. In this talk, I appeal to the artist inside of us by presenting the age-old storytelling adage of “Show, don’t tell”. Instead of explicitly stating a fact, including implicit elements within a scene enables the viewer to autonomously interpret details, giving them a level of agency and emotional involvement that is usually absent from instructional animation. To this end, I will talk about my experience creating a patient education animation on obesity and depression, and the storytelling strategies that I utilized in order to build empathy in the viewer towards the patient, including cinematic atmosphere, visual narrative, and visual metaphor. These strategies allowed me to convey complex and sensitive topics in a way that is impactful and salient without being heavy-handed. By showing the patient’s struggles instead of stating them outright, I invite the viewers to draw their own conclusions, giving more depth and tangibility to the patient’s lived experience as a result.

Speaker Bio

Ruth Chang is a graduate of the University of Toronto Biomedical Communications program. She holds a B.Sc in neuroscience from McGill University, where she was involved in mental health outreach and research. She spent a summer interning at the National Institutes of Health with the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, and she has collaborated with the Online Psychiatric Education Network at Women’s College Hospital to produce continuing development content for physicians, as well as patient education animations. She is now working as a medical animator at AXS Studio in Toronto.