How to Plan for a Surgical Technique Video

Let’s say you’re a product manager for a medical device and you need to create a video to demonstrate your product in an actual case. You contact the key-opinion-leader (KOL) surgeon, who agrees to participate, and sets off to find a suitable patient for the procedure, along with some potential dates for the shooting.

Now what?

Before determining how to approach a shoot, it’s important to ask a few key questions: Who is the target audience, and how will the video be used? Is it exclusively for training, or will it be shown to possible future investors? Will sales reps share it with surgeons? Or will it be shown to potential patients through a website?

You also must consider the complexity of the procedure and determine the critical steps to be captured by the camera crew, for instance:

What does the product look like and what supporting instrumentation will need to be shown and used in the case?

  1. Will fluoroscopy be used?
  2. Will there be other digital imaging used that will need to be captured, such as IVUS, OCT or ultrasound?
  3. Will a heart mapping system be used?
  4. Does the case require the patient to go on bypass, or will the patient be lightly sedated and awake during the case?
  5. How will the patient be positioned?
  6. How many anatomical sites need to be recorded?
  7. Will the back table, where the medical instrumentation and product are prepared, need to be recorded?
  8. How long is a typical case?
  9. Does it make sense to interview the surgeon before and/or after the case?  If so, should there be a set of questions to elicit the desired responses?
  10. Do you also want to capture patient testimonials?

With so much to consider in a procedural shoot, it’s important to find a video production company with operating room experience. Remember, the company you hire needs to know exactly what they are doing once they enter the cath lab or the operating room, because a lot is at stake. When vetting your options, here are some important questions to ask:

  1. Have you recorded in a cath lab or operating room before?
  2. Do you understand sterile technique?
  3. Have you worked in lead before?
  4. Are you certified through Rep Tracks or VendorMate?
  5. Are your immunizations up to date?
  6. Do you have samples of your work beyond what is featured on your website?
  7. Does your company have full time employees that will handle the filming or do you sub-contract that out?
  8. Are you able to provide multiple cameras?
  9. Do you have high definition cameras and recorders to capture any digital outputs such as flouro, echo, OCT, IVUS or ultrasound images?
  10. Are able to sync your cameras and recorders with redundant time code?
  11. Can you provide references from previous jobs?
  12. Does your company have liability insurance? At what limits?

At Meditech we’re asked these questions all the time and understand the importance of experience.

The day before the shoot, be sure to schedule a walk-through with the crew and hospital staff. During this meeting you will be able to see the room where the case will take place, understand where the patient will be positioned, look at camera positions and test any imaging equipment feeds which will need to be captured during the case.

Now that you understand all the aspects of the case and have found a qualified video crew you are ready to roll!!

Meditech Communications is a digital agency specializing in surgical technique video production and method-of-action 3D animation for the medical device world.

Our Animation Process

With over 10 years of medical 3D animation experience, Meditech Communications has a proven process that allows for smooth communication and leads to project success. Often our clients are new to animation production, so we wanted to provide an overview of how a typical project moves from pre-production to the final product.

Initial Meeting
We begin by meeting to explore your project needs, and discussing the target audience and primary use (i.e. tradeshow, product launch, patient education etc.). We then ask about the devices, processes and mechanisms of action that you want to highlight in the animation.

Detail Gathering & Proposal
After the initial meeting, we gather additional information that will help us move forward with the project. We ask our clients to provide device engineering files, a detailed list of animation steps, and references that may help with our understanding of these steps. We use this information to draft a rough outline, which allows us to create an accurate proposal.

Final Outline
Upon proposal approval, we work with the client to refine the outline. The final, approved outline will consist of a detailed description of every scene, a voiceover script (if requested), and on-screen text.

Next, we create a storyboard, which shows a sketched representation of each scene in the outline. Storyboards allow our clients to provide feedback on framing, device and object placement and camera angles.

3D Stills
When the storyboard is approved, we bring key storyboard panels to life through fully-rendered 3D stills. Since these 3D stills depict the look of the final animation, we ask our clients to provide consolidated team feedback on the colors, textures and appearance of the devices, anatomy and animation scene. We complete up-to two rounds of revision in order to get the stills just right, and then we move onto animating the video.

After 3D stills are finalized, we create the first version of your animation, which we refer to as an “animatic.” The animatic is an unrendered, gray scale version of the animation, which allows you to provide feedback on timing, transitions, and movement.

Final Animation
After two rounds of animatic review, we render out the animation so that it’s as impactful and beautiful as the approved 3D stills. We can provide the final animation in a variety of formats for use across multiple platforms.

This process generally takes between 8-10 weeks, depending on the scope of the animation. If you have any questions about this process, or want to talk to us about an upcoming animation need, please reach out to

Video – Timing is everything

As our YouTube approach to watching video continues to evolve and our attention spans shrink, it’s become a challenge to tell complex medical stories in under 2-minutes. At Meditech we produce a lot of “Patient Stories” to highlight the impact a successful therapy or procedure can have on a person’s life. Although these stories tend to be documentary style, we plan the story like any other fully scripted program. By doing our home work we learn about the people involved, and their experiences.  We create a script for the story, the questions and anticipated responses. When it comes time to interview a patient, we know what to ask, so we can get the most meaningful commentary in the least amount of words. We can then focus on capturing the video that best supports the story and illustrates the medical successes. Check out some of our latest patient stories: