I M Possible Series – The Career Journey of Eddy Xuan, co-founder of AXS Biomedical Animation Studio

Eddy Xuan earned his success. After graduating from Shanghai Jiao Tong University with a Bachelor of Engineering & Industrial Design, Eddy moved to Toronto to further his studies at the University of Toronto, eventually graduating with his Master’s in Biomedical Communications and receiving his post-graduate diploma in Computer Animation from Sheridan College. Not only thoroughly educated and dedicated to building a business with an impact on the medical community, AXS Biomedical Animation Studio – a science visualization company, Eddy is also a kind individual who took the time out of his very busy schedule to impart lessons learned from his post-secondary studies and entrepreneurial journey. (Thanks, Eddy!)

Q: Describe yourself in 3 words

A: Enjoy my adventure

Q: Your post-secondary education journey was unique. Can you tell us about your education, where you went to school, what you studied, and how that led you to where you are now?  

A: I got my Master’s degree in Biomedical Communications (BMC) at the University of Toronto. The program provided me the opportunity to meet my future business partners (my classmates) who I built AXS studio together with, almost right after graduation. People always say AXS Studio is like an extension of BMC, and this tells a lot about our culture. 

Q: As Co-founder of AXS Biomedical Animation Studio, you work with a team and with clients every day. What skills do you rely on the most when interacting with people? 

A: I rely on teamwork skills and my skills from my teaching experiences at U of T.

Q: Biomedical animation is a concept that not everyone is familiar with. Can you tell us what ‘biomedical animation’ is, as a field of work? How does it benefit those who use it and our society?   

A:Biomed’ animation is, generally speaking, the animation that tells biological and medical stories or facts. The goal is to educate in a more engaging way, especially in our ‘YouTube era’, as there is more opportunity to reach people than 15 years ago. Biomedical animation makes the medical story more accurate and easy to understand (thus it can eventually benefit the target audience). To create these stories, it requires a significant amount of research and preproduction, but the benefit is huge.

Q: These days, there is no shortage of talent available for hire. Beyond what’s on paper, what qualities are important to you in a new hire?

A: The right skill set and educational background, teamwork spirit (we call it “the right fit”), creative but methodical, and always paying attention to details. 

Q: It’s been said that excellence is just what we repeatedly do – a habit. What do you repeatedly do to stay relevant and innovative in your field? 

A: I am always trying new things. I enjoy what I do but also do my research as much as possible to stay informed. There is a lot going on in the interactive industry, for example, but we ventured into this arena about 7 years ago, and are now the leading player in the medical interactive field.

What do you see for the future of biomedical animation
 in our current environmentClearly, it’s an industry we now need more than ever.

A: I agree. The world needs more factual media coverage than ever to educate the general public. Whether or not the need can be met relies on if the cost can go down, if the technology we use advances to the next level, and if we have enough workforce to support it.  

Q: Experience teaches us things that textbooks cannot. What has experience taught you? 

A:  I like adventure and value my experiences a lot. For example, I was getting into the sport of mountain biking 2 years ago, at the age of 45, but now I can jump and drop from 3 feet because I practiced a million times – not by reading in a book about it a million times. Although I have to say,  I should read more textbooks! ?

At AXS Studio, the experience of making VFX shots for the Canadian TV show “Regenesis” (produced by Shaftsberry) was a very unique experience for us (AXS). That was our first long term client. They hired us with a lot of uncertainty at the beginning, because we were a bunch of recent graduates, and went on to keep us on-board for the next 4 seasons. We learned a lot about how to establish client relationships, work with a film producer and crew, and all the legal and financial details through that project. They loved us…not just due to the quality of our work, but because of the interaction and process we had with them. The experience was invaluable.

Q: What values does your company live and breathe by? 

AA good question. Jason Sharpe, one of my business partners, is actually doing a survey of exactly this question with all the employees, and we will get aligned soon ? But as I mentioned earlier, we are still like an extension of BMC, and breathe very similarly because that is where we all came from.  Essentially, we are a bunch of science and art lovers, wanting to reveal the beauty of science to the people.

Q: What is your favourite book?

A: I haven’t read a lot of books lately… shame! However, I do enjoy biography books. Steve Jobs and Open (by Andre Agassi) were among my favorites. I also love the “Romance of the three kingdoms.

Words to live by?

A: Be true to yourself, be honest, be positive/optimistic, and have fun.