To start things off, can you explain what 3D Biomedical Imaging is for those in our community who may be unaware?
I think that 3D Biomedical Imaging is the natural evolution of medical and biological illustration. It's very exciting and emerging field where many worlds are merging together. It's an emerging field in Computer Graphics. Data analysis, Education, Edutainment, all of them based on strong solid scientific background.
What types of jobs could someone with this skill set expect to land?
I generally see two trends. Scientists that would like to be able to create their own illustrations for articles and for teaching, and people working in CG (advertising mainly) that would like to learn a common language while working together with scientists to conjoint projects that involves a whole range of skills.
Interesting! Can you explain your pathway into this part of the industry? Were you aware you wanted to work in this sector when you got into 3D or were you introduced to it after the fact? If you experienced working in another sector of 3D, how did that experience compare to your current work?
I'm researcher that loves 3D, and I would never have thought that a passion could become something more. I need to thank CGsociety for that and all the great people I've found there. I started in 3D taking part in the Hardcore and Lighting Challenge at CGsociety where I found great people that were glad to share their knowledge in order to create a community and nurture knowledge in the CG field. After a while, thanks to Jeremy Birn, I've become Forum leader for the lighting challenge in CGtalk where I try to teach the basic knowledge for this fascinating skill.
What Biomedical animation shares with "traditional 3D" is a strong attention to details (a small change in a model could potentially change the meaning of what you are representing), a good dose of imagination while depicting unknown processes that take part in our body and and a great knowledge of photography/cinema animation.
What are some 3D skill sets that are specific to biomedical imaging that you wouldn't find in a film or game studio?
The use of very specialized 3D scientific softwares that gather data using analytical chemical techniques. Also, the research for reference always involved using the same specific database/sources as in scientific world. But there is also a lot of merging between "traditional" and "scientific" CG.
What does a typical professional project look like for you? Who is typically delegating the tasks, and what type of direction do you receive?
In Biomedical animation, you can still work in small team and also you can work as a freelance illustrator (i.e. journal covers of illustration for scientific articles). Since generally I prepare the figure for my scientific works, the director and illustrator merge in one figure.
As in all CG, it really depends on the nature of the audience of your work. If you work in advertising, your client is always the boss whatever he/she wants :) I'm glad that knowing the scientific base of what I'm representing I have "leverage" in the decision that need to be taken.
Where you do collect reference from?
I use scientific databases (Scopus, sciendirect, all products of mendeley, google scholar to find the editor of some specific journals, and all the repository of scientific data as Protein Database Bank, 3d life body etc.) and traditional photography (macro photography or studio photography)
We understand that you have a book coming out very soon, tell us about it! What is it about?
It's a book on representing Biomedical nano machineries from atoms to Cells. I'm working in cooperation with CRC/Taylor and Francis in the effort to create a book that will be useful for scientist interested in digging in CG and 3D.
What inspired you to write it? Is this your first time writing a book of this nature?
Yes it is. I wanted to create a reference for all my students since there are not really a lot of books on the topic. Also, I wanted to make scientist fear less their approach to 3D and show that with passion and discipline you can really achieve good results. (I really like to show people the state"I'm not able to draw" is meaningless)
What audience are you gearing it towards? The hobbyist, the professional or everyone?
Mainly scientist enthusiast for illustration 3D, but also studios interested in finding a common language with scientist while working with them.
Can you give us a few ideas of things that people will learn from your book that they might not be able to find elsewhere?
3D people will see that sometime scientist skills in 3d are quite primitive and that we still suffer from the default syndrome :) .
The same will happen for scientist that will also learn how to create and hone skills that can help them in representing their ideas. I think that the software and info that I report in the book will look quite unique to people versed only in 3D. Also I think that scientist won't find easily a "compedium" dedicated to this task even if there is plent of books dealing with 3D
Awesome! And lastly, For someone who might want to try their hand in 3D biomedical imaging, what are some resources you can recommend for getting started?
It depends on the world you are coming from. I can tell you some skills that I feel are very important to "create" a complete artist. Passion, being humble, an infinite will to learn. knowing the classic artists (painter, scupltor, photographers) . One of the more common mistakes people made is to try to focus on learning a fancy software instead of focusing on learning the concepts of graphics (lighting, shader, animation)
I suggest reading all the old book of illustrations (starting from Haeckel but also including the Victorian Anatomy Masters) and the modern pioneer as David Goodsell and Johnson Graham and also to have a look at the classic biology and organic chemistry book (Lehninger and Voet just to cite two of them). Also all the things produced by MadMicrobe, Viscira, Invivo, and all the fantastic stuff from my friends at nymus3d.
We'd like to thank Giorgio for his thoughtful responses. Don't forget to check out his Biomedical Imaging in 3D course that is now open for enrollment!