An Interview with 3FX: Pioneers and Trendsetters in the Medical Illustration & Animation Field

An Interview with 3FX: Pioneers and Trendsetters in the Medical Illustration & Animation Field

Since 1995, 3FX has consistently taken complex technical ideas and turned them into dynamic visualizations that actively attract and engage the viewer in ways that strike a perfect balance between education, science and marketing.

The award-winning 3FX team established themselves as experts in creating scientific visualizations by combining years of experience with knowledgeable specialists, resulting in immaculate brand and customer retention.

We recently had an opportunity to catch up with Jody Bortner, Principal Partner of 3FX, and ask her a few questions. She tells us how 22 years of experience translates into practice and where 3FX sees itself in the future.

Browse work from 3FX through their website and Medical Illustration & Animation portfolio.

It's raining cells


  1. First of all, who are your typical clients, and what are the traditional capabilities that you offer?

Clients typically seek out our creative scientific communications expertise to assist them in their marketing communications and brand management roles with Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical companies, Biotech firms, and Medical Device companies. We also regularly collaborate with clients who come to us from Medical Advertising agencies, Medical Education companies, Medical Communication companies, Medical Litigation firms, University Hospitals, and Broadcast and Post Production companies.

3FX is best known across the globe as a leader in the field of medical animation, with our traditional capabilities encompassing 3D, Mechanism of Disease (MOD) & Mechanism of Action (MOA) animations. These tools are utilized by our clients to educate a targeted audience on a particular disease state, and how a drug, device, or therapy is designed to interact with that particular disease.

circulatory system of a human male


  1. 3FX has 21 years of experience and is considered a leader in the industry. Tell us about some of the highlights in your evolution.

3FX started in 1995 as a three person operation consisting of two artists and a business developer. In ‘97 we were producing animations for QVC and PrimeStar, which led to a period of growth where we hired additional staff and launched in 1998.

That same year, we were approached by The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania to be the focus of a class project, which concluded with the recommendation that 3FX look to expand in the area of medical animation. We had already completed our first MOA for a local production company, and were using that experience to promote our medical animation capabilities. A Brand Manager from a pharmaceutical company contacted us to produce our second MOA, which led to additional projects and ushered in another period of growth. Our work began to market itself, bringing in project requests from across the globe.

The years that followed saw us create our first stereoscopic animation and dome animation. We moved into a larger office space to support our growing staff and to house all of the hardware required to keep up with production. We also streamlined processes to better serve our clients and continue to curate the 3FX tradition of creating beautiful, artful animations that bring science to life.

Cells and Biology and stuff


  1. You have a large team of professionals on staff. Tell us about their unique skills and what they are able to offer your clients.

3FX has assembled a team of specialists who diligently create innovative, scientifically accurate, visual communication solutions that assist our clients in their brand conveyance and message retention efforts.

Our team of forward-thinking individuals is made up of experts in Molecular Biology, Medical Illustration, Animation, Video Production, Communications, Education, and Engineering. Together they bring a unique skillset which allows 3FX to act as a strategic partner to our clients.

Our multi-talented Science Director is able to decipher every complex story presented by our clients. He has an innate ability to quickly cull out the important details, and to then communicate them back in an educational, yet creative way that is easy for any targeted audience to understand.

Our nimble Director of Operations is a 19 year veteran of 3FX. An experienced animator and passionate educator, he spends the majority of his time in the editing suite, reviewing, tweaking and developing ways to make the impossible, possible, in order to exceed our clients’ expectations.

With over 26 years of combined experience as medical illustrators and animators, our staff is often able to visualize what a clients’ completed project will look like during our initial discovery meeting. They manage to stay two steps ahead throughout production, which allows them to identify potential roadblocks and to course correct before any issues arise.

I can say that there is an unbridled passion amongst our Directors and extended staff that is palpable in every team meeting, every client meeting, and certainly evident in every finished 3FX project. What I am most proud of is our propensity for listening to our clients, to understanding and acknowledging their goals, and our willingness to do whatever it takes to provide a final deliverable that meets those goals as well as the 3FX standard for quality.

When client feedback indicates that we are easy to do business with and that our team operates through a smooth and efficient production process, that is most satisfying. This is how I know that 3FX has the formula right, and that we’re doing our job well.

the mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell


  1. What sets you apart from other medical illustration/animation companies? What are some of the more innovative services that have emerged in recent years?

There are multiple factors which set 3FX apart, the most significant being that we are a strategic partner for creative scientific communications.

Our team is capable of conveying any complex scientific story, and our in-house, script-writing expertise are relied upon for the majority of animation projects that we are awarded.

We assist our clients by creating the overall look and feel for projects of any size, from product logos, to casts of molecular characters and environments, all the way to comprehensive designs for trade show booth experiences.

Our 22 year history has taught us a lot. Our internal and external processes have been refined to ensure efficient and clear communication. We take ownership of all projects, we meet deadlines, and our experience has removed the burden of hand holding from our clients. We are a trusted partner and our clients view us as an extension of their team.

In regards to innovation, we are always pushing the envelope; adopting new technologies to allow our clients to be the first in the market to innovatively showcase their stories, all the while remaining cognizant of project analytics and devising ways to capture the all-important data that our clients need to understand the ROI of a particular project.

We were early integrators of interactive displays, such as touch screens, which work well to satisfy many ROI requirements and we were the first to design a tradeshow booth that utilized the technology of Dome Animation. We also create AR (augmented reality) and holography experiences that are very successful in how well they engage audiences and increase trade show booth traffic for our clients.

RAAS SNS Contractillty Heart Rate Arterial Pressure Blood Volume


  1. Visual technology is constantly changing. Where do you see medical animation headed and what is your vision for the future?

To my last point, advances in technology over recent years have allowed for 3FX to collaborate on projects featuring interactive elements, such as objection handler apps for use on sales rep iPads, touchscreen enabled animations used for Health Care Provider and Patient education, and augmented reality projects, featuring Google Cardboard, used to intrigue audiences and increase engagement.

The fact that we can depend on the constantly changing nature of visual technology enables us the opportunity to foster a culture of out of the box thinking. It also allows us to execute on creative ideas that were previously unimaginable! Our team enjoys the challenge of creating with new technology in mind, and the changes certainly keep things exciting around the office and in our production studio.

Regarding the future, it seems every day we hear of a new VR (virtual reality) headset entering the marketplace, and more and more consumers are embracing VR technology for home use. I believe that this VR explosion is the genesis of the future of visual technology, including that of medical animation. I see life science trade show booths evolving from a series of backlit panels and LCD monitors, to fully immersive experiences where audiences are completely captivated, while all of their senses are being engaged.

The desire of today’s audience to interact and engage with content, and to quickly and easily share it with others, will need to be at the forefront when conceptualizing any new creative production.


Pelvic Organ Prolapse


Cells in the body


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