Title of Paper

‘Animating Health Processes – Enabling effective disease management through visual story-telling.’



This paper looks at the development of an animated ‘Coronation Street’ - type series, in which each episode addresses a different aspect of dermatitis management, and the target audience gets to know and relate to the characters. As a result, factual information is absorbed in a manner that is enjoyable, humorous, and relatable, which in turn helps to decrease the sense of isolation and the negative health impacts that are experienced by those suffering from dermatitis.


In New Zealand/Aotearoa, dermatitis is a common chronic disease which has significant morbidity and costs for children and their families, and affects about 20% of children and 3% of adults. Dermatitis remains a significant problem, particularly for young indigenous New Zealanders and Pacific Island peoples, whose conditions can be ameliorated by a greater familiarity with dermatitis symptoms and access to effective, sustained dermatitis management.


Providing educational materials about dermatitis to parents or caregivers can help to increase their knowledge about their child’s condition, and therefore reinforce effective management (which can be complex) and help to promote adherence to topical treatments. However, when the appropriate literature on effective management is in printed form, those, for whom English is their second language, find understanding the management of the condition difficult and in many cases simply do not read it.


The production of this series is a collaboration between tertiary animation students and the Counties Manukau District Health Board, Auckland, New Zealand. Within this project the students are able to provide a completely different and relevant method of information dissemination through animation. The ability for information to be assimilated via animation methods should enable improved understanding of the various dermatitis management procedures to be gained by the target groups.

The project also endeavours to utilise ‘cutting edge’ animation processes within a 3D environment, with the animation embracing a more realistic movement aesthetic utilising motion capture to drive the characters. This level of expertise enables the students to be informing the industry while they learn how to collaborate within a ‘real world’ industry environment.



Dermatitis, eczema, health, story-telling, motion-capture



John originally spent over 10 years in the advertising industry before joining AUT University to run a number of Graphic Design programmes. Ten years ago he set up the Digital Design major of the Bachelor of Design Degree. This gave the School of Art & Design a 'moving image' component to its degree structure.
His research revolves around the ‘Triple Helix’ which encompasses academic, industry and government collaboration.




Contact Information:

John Piper

Head of Department,

Bachelor of Design – Digital Design,

School of Art & Design,

AUT University, Auckland, 

New Zealand

+64 21 575403 +64 9 921 9999 ext 8610