Two busy surgeons at one of the world's leading eye centers have been working late into the night learning how to use CINEMA 4D, the state-of-the-art 3D animation software used in films such as Spider-Man 3 and Beowulf - in a bid to help teach other surgeons how to perform complex eye operations.
To date, eye surgeons Bill Aylward and PaulSullivan have produced over 1,000 animations that are helping to train other surgeons at their workplace - Moorfields Eye Hospital, London - and beyond.
Using CINEMA 4D's advanced animation tools, Bill and Paul find they can demonstrate many surgical procedures more clearly than is possible with real film.
"The problems with using real footage of operations are that sometimes organs, blood or tissue can get in the way of what we're trying to show; you can't always put the camera in the best position to see what's going on, and you can't show cutaways that would explain the procedure better. With 3D animation software, you can hide anything that gets in the way or make it see-through; the camera can go where you want and you can produce cutaways of the eye very easily. Anything is possible in 3D!" explains Bill.
Paul recalls that the biggest hurdle was finding the right 3D tool: "We've never animated before. We're surgeons, not full-time animators. We needed a 3D tool that gives the best results and is the easiest to use. We tested all the available 3D packages and we found CINEMA 4D the easiest to [learn]."
Although one-on-one training is available for CINEMA 4D, Bill and Paul would often be learning late into the night outside normal working hours. Here help was at hand in the shape of MAXON's www.cineversity.com website, offering over 1,000 video tutorials online that can be accessed around-the-clock.
Months later, Bill and Paul are now literally flying with CINEMA 4D: "Last week, I created two new animations on a flight to a training conference in North Carolina. We're creating content a lot faster these days. That's partly because we've built up a library of 3D models and materials that we can reuse," says Bill.
And critical acclaim has followed: Bill and Paul's CINEMA 4D animations were highly commended by the British Medical Association Textbook Awards.
About Moorfields Eye Hospital
Opened in 1805, Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust is one of the world's leading centers for ophthalmic treatment and teaching. It is the oldest and largest specialist eye hospital in the world, and became one of the UK's first NHS Foundation Trusts in 2004.
With its research partner, the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology, Moorfields carries out an exciting programme of research in order to find cures for diseases currently untreatable.
The entire range of eye diseases is treated at Moorfields from cataract, corneal and retinal conditions to complex diseases, and last year over 260,000 patient visits were recorded.
Moorfields' eminent reputation means that patients are seen from all over the UK and from around the world.
More information about the hospital can be found at www.moorfields.nhs.uk
Bill Aylward - Medical Director, Moorfields Eye Hospital
Paul Sullivan - Director of Education, Moorfields Eye Hospital