Utrecht University

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Principles of polarity

Cells come in all flavours – with different sizes, shapes and functions. But no matter the type, each individual cell has the ability to sense and determine direction. Just like our body, a cell needs to distinguish its front from its back, its top from its bottom. This ability that cells have – to orient themselves along a geometric axis – is known in biology as cell polarity.

This image shows a 3d reconstruction of pipetting to understand cell polarity

A new way of collaborating

For this project, we worked closely together with PolarNet's early stage researchers (ESRs). We involved them early on in the creative process, challenging them to think about how they would communicate their research. The process started with a workshop on storytelling in film, and how different cinematic elements can be put together to achieve specific effects. On the back of this workshop, the ESRs came up with their own concept – which we tweaked a little, here and there.

This image shows a 3D reconstruction of a human cell on a purple backdrop

The micro and the macro

The goal was to explain that cell polarity is essential for life. Many people don’t realise how many different processes it is involved in – and just how miserable life would be if the polarisation of cells were to go wrong. The challenge was to translate this information into a clear visualisation, which would engage the audiences as well as explaining the complex matter. We achieved this by incorporating 3D animation that showed both the micro – the polarity of one cell – and the macro – how our bodies are built up by millions of cells.

Award winner

The film won the GOLD S.A.V.V.Y. AWARD at the Sound And Vision International Film & Technology Festival in New York in 2018.

Find out what we can do for you!

Contact us at info@sensu.org or call +31 20 777 20 72.

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