For my master's research project (MRP), I am working with nurses and researchers at The Hospital for Sick Children to create an educational 3D animation that educates health care professionals of neonatal pain. My committee members ensure the accuracy of the content, and that the narration is at a level that is appropriate for the target audience.



Unrevised animation: This is the unrevised version of the final animation. Minor revisions still need to be made.

2D Animatic: The purpose of the 2D animatic is to plan the correct timing using assets from the storyboard and a rough narration. Elements of the 2D animatic were separated into individual layers and animated within Adobe After Effects CS5.5

Storyboard: The storyboard was developed to illustrate important segments of the story. Every panel is representative of a story point within the treatment. The panels were created in Adobe Photoshop CS5.5.

Download treatment

Treatment: The treatment serves as an outline and guide for the storyboard. It describes what the viewer would see for every scene in the animation.


Project title:
Animation title:
Target audience:

Using visual cues, earcons, and audio panning to communicate physiological effects of painful stimuli in neonates
Behind the Heel Lance
Nurses and other front line health care practitioners
Autodesk Maya 2012
Adobe After Effects CS5.5
Adobe Photoshop CS5.5
Adobe Illustrator CS5.5
Adobe Audition CS5.5
Image-Line FL Studio 10.0

Currently, little attention is paid to managing pain for preterm neonates that require multiple painful procedures. Poor pain management of neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) patients is partly due to lack of understanding by nurses and other front line health care practitioners of mechanisms of pain in the neonatal somatosensory systems.

Current tools in educating healthcare professionals about neonatal pain are textbooks and images that only focus on recognition of neonatal pain through behavioral responses. There has not been a visualization of neonatal pain from a basic science point of view. It is crucial for healthcare professionals to understand the mechanisms of neonatal pain for proper pain management to be provided for NICU patients.

My project aims to educate my target audience, Nurses and other front line health care practitioners, about the physiological effects of painful stimuli in neonatal somatosensory systems and to inspire development of better pain management methods for NICU patients.

My film will visualize mechanism of pain signal transduction, the key players in pain signal modulation, cellular changes that occur in the neonatal somatosensory system during a critical period of development, and how pain sensory is altered as a result of these cellular changes. I will link neonates' behavioral responses to pain with corresponding physiological mechanisms thereby allowing my viewers to relate information from the film to their everyday observations.

I will explore the usage of sound in my animation to enhance the learning experience. An important concept my film aims to teach is that the neonatal somatosensory system undergoes fine tuning after birth. Exploring the usage of audio fine tuning to depict neural fine tuning can be helpful in teaching this concept. In addition to visual cues, I will use well designed earcons with effective panning to help viewers distinguish between different types and sources of signals involved in pain signal modulation.


Content experts:

Other members:

Dr. Linda Wilson-Pauwels, Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto Mississauga
Dr. Simon Beggs, Research Associate, Program in Neurosciences & Mental Health, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
Dr. Bonnie Stevens, Professor, Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing and Faculty of Medicine Director, University of Toronto Centre for the Study of Pain University of Toronto, Signy Hildur Eaton Chair in Paediatric Nursing Research Associate Chief of Nursing Research Senior Scientist Research Institute, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto
Prof. Marc Dryer, Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto Mississauga
Prof. Michael Corrin, Biomedical Communications, University of Toronto Mississauga

© 2012 Minyan Wang. All rights reserved.