I'm working on „Fighting an Infection“ for undergraduate biology students. This means that I'll go into quite a lot of detail and that the correct processes need to be depicted with precision.
What I find fascinating about the immune system is how its many roles are divided and carried out by different types of cells. These cells often have more than one role and sometimes those roles even overlap each other. I think that there is an important lesson about the human body in this complex system so I would like to make this shine through in the video.
More precisely I will focus mostly on the specific or adaptive immune system and its interesting processes of identifying and reacting to completely different types of pathogens. In the correct terminology I would cover B-cells, some type of phagocyte (for example a dendritic cell), and Helper T-Cells.
(B-Cells among other things produce antibodies. Helper T-Cells activate B-Cells and increase their activity and the activity of Phagocytes. Phagocytes work with the antibodies to engulf threats.)
To make the video memorable, it has to feel like a journey and have a punch line at the end - a complete story arc or a loop of information. Thus, I think it would be best to present a threat in the beginning then focus on the roles of B-Cells and use them as the story driver: The audience needs a reason to go on a journey so the B-Cells could be presented in a way that feels as if they are "waiting for activation" by the Helper T-Cells and their Cytokines. (Cytokines are proteins that “stimulate the other cells to be more active”) The film will move on to show what is keeping the Phagocytes busy and how they then interact with Helper T-Cells. The explanation of the exact roles of Helper T-Cells would lead back to the activation of the B-Cells and the 3/4 change of pace of the video. A final illustration of the battle between this whole system and the pathogen presents itself as a satisfying conclusion for our story arc.
In terms of visuals I want to make it all feel quite scientific and grown up so I'll reference to microscopic imagery and take liberties to enhance. (Cell designs that students can recognize from textbooks would be a good idea in this case.) I imagine the visuals to be very colorful and organic. Also, I think there is an opportunity to refrain from taking sides too soon, so I don't want to give the impression of the “good” immune system and the “evil” pathogen. Instead, if possible, I think it would be more interesting to depict a scene of microscopic life in all its facets in a more objective way. (I'm aware of the problems this could introduce for the feeling of satisfaction of the audience)
In terms of pace and movement on screen, at first I would like to keep a very slow and sober rhythm with slow movements and a bit of a feeling of “safe distance” to make the audience feel like a “quiet observer”. As the cells start to interact more, I want to increase the tempo and the pressure as well as the friction between objects and finally move to a quite violent tone. This will enhance the story arc and capture the audience. Also, I enjoy the idea of having this contrast of rhythm to depict a neutral attitude towards life at this scale. Imagine you were looking at some fish in an aquarium. Everything moves slowly and quietly until those fish start tearing up some prey and you realize they were actually piranha. This is almost how I want the immune system to feel, quiet and giant, then precise and deadly, but never evil and never good.
I think it would also be good to include the names of the cells and their processes on screen. The idea is to have a type of minimalistic HUD overlay, a bit like a pilot helmet that tracks and identifies items as they show up and interact. This of course, in relationship with the style of the rest of the video and I'll have to try this first.