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What are the SciVi Principles?

In science animation production it's crucial that the researcher and the visual artist are able to discuss their aims, goals, and messages with each other. Both fields have their own professional processes, value system, and language. By finding the common principles that they can use as discussion guidelines we are trying to create a smoother and more successful collaboration that will result in clear and understandable science dissemination.

The SciVi (science visualization) principles were inspired by the rules of classical animation, like the 12 animation principles of Disney. The 12 animation principles were first introduced in the book ‘Disney Animation: The Illusion of Life’ in 1981 by Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two of the key animators at Disney during the Golden Age of animation. Similarly, how an animator thinks about those principles when designing a style for animation is also how a scientist can plan the basic features of their science visualization project. Having these principles discussed will help the collaboration to create more transparent communication. The principles should function as guidelines in a conversation between the visual artist and the scientist to avoid misunderstanding and recognize different opinions in an early stage of the production. The discussion of the principles should help understand each other’s ideas and make it easier to evaluate the collaboration.

8 SciVi Principles were suggested by Peter Vistisen (2021). According to his concept, they are functioning as handlebars not limiting subjective choices.


  1. Audience Knowledge - When planning an animation, it’s important to know which level of literacy your audience will have to use the best matching complexity in visual and verbal language. 

  2. Different Roles - There are four archetypal communication types: Peer to peer, grant, teaching, and public.

  3. Thinking vs. Communication - Is the project just communicating certain information? Or would it like to generate questions that the audience should answer?

  4. Objectivity - How will this fact-based knowledge be disseminated? Will the video take sides? Even music or sound effects can create emotional responses.

  5. Fidelity - How finished and polished the graphic design and the animation is? Is it a sketch or a draft animation with less animated movement or a high-quality render?

  6. Art vs. Facts - Is the visualization using metaphors or tries to use a realistic interpretation?

  7. Aspects of Participation - The audience is more active in a virtual reality experience or while playing a game. Active participation can be writing comments or sharing videos as well.

  8. Viewpoint(s) - Does the animation represent one specific opinion or several viewpoints?

scivi principles.jpg

By participating you will be able to evaluate solely videos thus the 7th principle will be not included in the evaluation. Videos are regarded as 'passive' activity because there is no interaction between the animated content and the audience.

The slides working as you can see in the video above. You have to move the white circle to add your evaluation. Not touched position counts as unanswered. If you would like to leave the measure in the middle please move the slide a bit, then reposition in the middle. After using the 'Clear' button on the right side, the slide count as unused again.

On the next page, you will be able to watch the selected 6 videos. The evaluation is highly subjective, each person has their own subjective evaluation. With your participation, you will help us to see if there are any patterns in the participant's answers thus helping us measure the efficacy of the principles.

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