Envision science animation: Ozone (O3) and its effect on the nitrogen dynamics of wheat

We worked with the environmental scientist Clare Brewster to communicate her research into Ozone (O3) and its effect on the nitrogen dynamics of wheat.

Clare wrote a script with the ozone as a character to help make the science more accessible and fun. We decided to design the animation as if ozone was reading a story from an armchair.

This research will add to a large body of evidence on the effects of ozone on wheat, revealing new insights into effects on grain formation, and on the capacity of the wheat plant to take up, store and transport nitrogen to the grain. It will also provide evidence that a reduced uptake of nitrogen fertiliser may lead to increased nitrogen pollution. In addition, the differences in response to ozone by tolerant and sensitive cultivars could prove valuable to plant breeders working to develop elite wheat cultivars with an improved ability to cope with abiotic stress in all its forms.

This video aims to increase awareness amongst farmers, agronomists, plant breeders and plant scientists of the serious abiotic stress that ozone presents to many of our staple crops across the world.

This is one of the six animations we created for Envision PhD researchers in 2021. In autumn 2020 Envision ran a competition where candidates submitted a brief for an animated film. The winners were selected by a judging panel and the prize was to have an animation produced about their research work.

Production Process


Clare wrote a 2 minute script for the animation based on the competition entry that explained her research and pitched the storyline concept. We helped with editing. 

Style design 

A style frame was designed to give an idea of how the final animation would look. Originally Ozone was designed with a dotted outline but we decided Ozone would be completely invisible except for the pipe.
The style design was created using Adobe Photoshop.

Sketched Storyboards and Animatic Video 

Sketches - Ozone (O3) Envision science animation
A storyboard was sketched out based on the script. The storyboard images were then put into a video sequence with a draft voiceover recording so we could test the timings and ensure the script and images made sense when played together.
At this point we made some script and image revisions before moving to the next stage. 

Illustration of Animation Assets

Illustrations - Ozone (O3) Envision science animation
Once the sketched storyboards were signed off, the storyboards were illustrated in the style design. 
The illustrations were created using Adobe Photoshop with textured brushes.
Some revisions were made before moving onto the next production phase. 


Animation in After Effects
The animation phase started by preparing all the illustrations for animation. This involved separating artwork out onto layers and naming them.
The Photoshop files were imported into Adobe After Effects then animated. 
A professional voice over artist recorded the script then the audio track was mixed and edited so it could be animated in time to.  


Clare is using her animated video to successfully explain and engage people in her research. It has been shared through social media and in public engagement seminars/webinars to introduce the topic and encourage the audience to learn more about the research.
The animation was released publicly on the Envision website and Twitter and received positive feedback and engagement from peers in the science community and members of the public.