Paul Van Slembrouck – ScribbleLive http://www.scribblelive.com ScribbleLive is the leading end-to-end platform for content marketing engagement. Thu, 04 Aug 2016 20:24:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://s3.amazonaws.com/scribblelive-com-prod/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/favicon-91x80.png Paul Van Slembrouck – ScribbleLive http://www.scribblelive.com 32 32 Looks Matter: How Art Serves Data Science http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/07/30/looks-matter-how-art-serves-data-science/ Tue, 30 Jul 2013 18:44:06 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2013/07/30/looks-matter-how-art-serves-data-science/ When we create data visualizations, we put a lot of effort into either crafting a story or enabling users to analyze a dataset by exploring it visually. Most of the time, this distinction is helpful and easy to draw, but occasionally the lines between these two extremes are blurred. Halftone.co Read more...

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When we create data visualizations, we put a lot of effort into either crafting a story or enabling users to analyze a dataset by exploring it visually. Most of the time, this distinction is helpful and easy to draw, but occasionally the lines between these two extremes are blurred. Halftone.co recently published a visualization of global land temperatures since 1900. The process of creative discovery that led to the final project made us rethink how we view the various purposes of data visualization. We believe that good data visualization doesn’t only rely on sound science and design, but is often times most effective when it taps into our love for art. In other words, we strive to make data more visceral. Below is an excerpt of an article describing our creative process. You can read the full text here.

The Process

The story of this project begins with coffee. We wanted to make maps that showed where in the world coffee grows best, and where it goes after it has been harvested. We explored worldwide coffee production data and discussed how to map the optimal growing regions based on the key environmental conditions: temperature, precipitation, altitude, sunlight, wind, and soil quality. The first extensive dataset we could find contained temperature data from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. So we set out to draw a map of the Earth based on historical monthly temperature. The dataset includes measurements dating as far back as the year 1701, from over 7,200 weather stations around the world. Each climate station could be placed at a specific point on the globe by its geospatial coordinates. North America and Europe were densely packed with points, while South America, Africa, and East Asia were rather sparsely covered. The list of stations varied from year to year, with some stations coming online and others disappearing. This meant that you couldn’t simply plot the temperature for a specific location over time. Plotting these individual stations provided a decent representation of global temperature zones. However, we wanted to show temperatures across areas, not only at discrete points. To create an accurate temperature map, we would need models that incorporated local topography and climate variables. We didn’t have those complex climate models on hand, so we instead aimed to generate a quick approximation that could be rendered in a browser. After some experimentation, we decided to use Voronoi Tesselation to draw our map, primarily because the method lends itself to turning points into contiguous areas. At this point, we had a passable approximation of a global temperature map, but we couldn’t easily find other data relating to precipitation, altitude, sunlight, wind, and soil quality. The temperature data on its own didn’t tell a compelling story to us. Sure, global temperatures have increased by a couple degrees over the past century, but that’s not a story we were after. To better understand the purposes of visualization projects, we place them on a “visualization spectrum”: from “exploration” to “explanation.” We saw this temperature map as an exploratory tool, but it was unclear what there was to be discovered — it fell off the left end of our spectrum. So we put the project on a back shelf and forgot about it for a while. A few months later, the amazing visual programming work shown by artists at EYEO inspired us. We were reminded that it’s valuable to release sketches and incomplete ideas. Keeping experiments sitting on our hard drives and hidden from the world does not help anyone. By releasing ideas, you give them a chance to live on in unexpected forms. So, we decided to revisit the temperature map and package it up into something sharable.

The Role of Beauty

There are two phenomena we see in our work: 1. Obsessive technical correctness and criticism of “Chart Junk” In this industry, there is an obsessive focus on functionality of charts and the precise representation of data. While we sometimes fall prey to the this, we inherently believe this comes at the expense of presenting data with a focus on the human emotional appeal. There are knee-jerk reactions to any visual decoration that may distract readers from the raw data or be deemed unnecessary. Charts that might be considered visually pretty but aren’t obviously useful are tossed out and dismissed as ‘over-designed’ or incomprehensible art work. We’ll often hear: “It looks cool, but what story does it tell me?” 2. The importance of user centered design When working for startups, we are typically focused on understanding the users’ needs. We persistently tie all meetings and tasks back to solving a specific problem for the users. If we can’t define valid user needs based on real-world evidence, such as user interviews, then we’re forced to rely on assumptions or pause the project until more information can be gathered. I’m not saying that these two principles — correct visualization techniques and user centered design — are not important. It is a problem when people create charts that are unreadable or create products in a vacuum without solving real problems. BUT, an unwavering insistence on utility 100% of the time limits us from experimenting and honing our talents regarding the other aspects of design. In his book Emotional Design, Don Norman breaks down the appeal of a product into three aspects.

  • Visceral relates to the aesthetic beauty and pleasure that a product offers. Example: A beautiful teapot.
  • Behavioral relates to useful functions that a product offers to empower a user in some way. Example: A teapot that has clever additional functions.
  • Reflective relates to the greater meaning that a product can evoke. A product may offer some greater awareness and commentary about the world. Example: A teapot that cannot be poured, making the user think about the concept of the teapot itself, and how it relates to the world.

Photo by Ayman Shamma, from Don Norman’s collection; link Everyone feels different levels of attraction to these attributes, but a well crafted product will attract the most interest simply because it touches on all three aspects of design. Let’s take a look at how the temperature project makes use of the three elements: Visceral elements:

  • Initial animation: abstract art transforms into something familiar — a map of the world
  • Choice of colors and shapes and styles
  • Underlying satellite imagery (hidden surprise!)

Behavioral elements:

  • Allows users to easily navigate over 100 years of temperature data that was previously hidden away in text files in a confusing nest of jargon-filled HTML pages on NOAA’s website

Reflective elements:

  • Allows users to see their own times and places in a bigger context. it allows them to recall personal stories and to have thoughts about our planet

We believe that we were able to find this audience because of the visceral beauty of the project. For us, this validates that visual appeal and novelty (new experiences) are very effective means of reaching people. Within three days of releasing the project, we saw over 25,000 visitors and 400 tweets, most of which can be paraphrased as “Wow, this looks so cool!” Commenters said that project was a good example of “art + science” and it was reposted by a number of brands and publications.

There’s Utility, and There’s Art

Our main takeaway and guide for future projects is that art is a perfectly reasonable driver for a visualization project. However, just as important as it is to not let utility get in the way of an artistic expression, it is crucial that an artistic piece does not try to pretend to have a focus on utility. In the work we do for our clients at Halftone, our primary focus is still to provide utility through the use of data visualization, even if we add touches of art here and there. For other creators out there, we recommend to simply schedule time for fun projects and experimental ideas. Get your experiments to a point where they can be released so you that might entertain and inspire others to carry the idea forward; don’t trash ideas only because they seem to have no utility. A special shout out goes to our good friend Ian Johnson, whose input influenced this project more than just once. Paul Van Slembrouck is the creative director of Halftone.co, a visualization studio and consultancy in San Francisco.

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Speedometer Design: Why It Works http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/07/19/speedometer-design-why-it-works/ Fri, 20 Jul 2012 02:22:01 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/07/19/speedometer-design-why-it-works/ Gregor Aisch’s post last week on speedometer design hit close to home for me. My dad has been an automotive engineer and designer for more than 30 years now. I’ve absorbed a wealth of automotive history and industry knowledge over the years by reading car mags, rebuilding old cars, watching Read more...

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Gregor Aisch’s post last week on speedometer design hit close to home for me. My dad has been an automotive engineer and designer for more than 30 years now. I’ve absorbed a wealth of automotive history and industry knowledge over the years by reading car mags, rebuilding old cars, watching the corporate shenanigans, and following Top Gear (the best TV show on the planet) and Drive. Gregor raised a couple questions (below) about the design of the common speedometer, so I’m going to use his post as a jumping off point for further exploration of the context of speedometers. As real estate professionals say, “location, location, location.” When it comes to data visualization, we say “context, context, context.” Robert Kosara had a similar reaction, but he took it in a different direction. But, back to those questions..
  • Current speed is only one number, so why use a relatively large area to display a single data point?
  • Speed data is not periodic, so why use a radial chart?

Here’s a drawing of the speedometer from my car. It displays speeds from 0 to 155 mph (0 to 240 km/h) To address questions of how small or large a speedo can be, as well as how much information it can display, we first need to establish the physical context of the layout. You may not have noticed that when you look at your speedometer, you’re looking at it through a window. That window is created by the steering wheel. The upper gap in the wheel defines the boundaries of the canvas that we can design within. When you turn the wheel, the viewable canvas area is even smaller. The speedo also shares space on that canvas with other critical instruments: tachometer (engine speed), odometer (mileage), coolant temperature, turbocharger pressure, and fuel level.

A numeric display alone is no good

So why not just take that space devoted to the gauge and smack a big digital readout of current speed in its place? Because it would suck. The movement of the needle around the gauge delivers a lot more information than first meets the eye. The speed of the needle indicates how rapidly the car is accelerating or decelerating. Imagine merging onto a highway. On the entrance ramp, you glance down and mentally note the movement of the needle as you begin accelerating. You return your eyes and lift off the gas when you think you’ve roughly reached the appropriate speed. Your intuitive sense of that target speed was informed by the prior glance at the movement of the speedo. Having the full range of speeds displayed at all times allows you to establish zones on the speedo. Once you’ve learned the speed ranges of your particular car, you can glance at the cluster and get a quick approximation of your speed without having to read any of the characters on the panel. Usually, this rough awareness of speed is all that you need. Am I going slow, moderate, fast, or super fast? Additionally, there are other “events” that occur at various points in the speed range. Many Porsche models have spoilers that deploy between 50mph and 75mph. European cars are sold with speed governors that cut engine power at 155mph. You can pay extra when you buy a BMW or Mercedes to have that governor deactivated. The latest high-powered Corvette has exhaust valves that open above 3,500 rpm for better performance. It’s nice to be able to gauge where you are relative to these events. Here’s a use case where seeing the position of the needle within the full range of values is critical: Shifting gears with manual transmissions, which much of the world still does. Coordinating the position of the two main needles (the tach and the speedo) is essential both for properly timed upshifts and smooth downshifts (“rev matching”). Each gear has a common range of RPM that correspond to a different range of speeds. My car has five gears, and each of those gears can drive the wheels between a given range of speeds. If you use a gear below it’s corresponding range, the engine may stall; if go above the range, you’ll redline the engine and risk damage.

The speedo is round because the wheels are round

The radial layout of the speedometer is a holdover from when it was a mechanical device. The typical speedo of the mid-1900’s transmits rotational speed from gearing in the transmission to the needle in the dashboard by way of a flexible, springy wire cable. The cable is sheathed in a jacket and squared off at each end so it can be spun by the transmission and thus spin a magnet where it terminates behind the instrument panel. That orange needle itself is not physically connected to any rotating parts in the drivetrain. The needle is held in place by a lightweight spring pushing it toward the zero position. Behind the panel, the needle is attached to a metal “speedcup.” The magnet attached to the cable generates a magnetic field that grows stronger the faster it spins. This magnetic field acts upon the speedcup, providing the force that pushes the needle away from zero. So, this mechanical design was the most reliable, cheapest way to translate the rotation of circular wheels (driven by the transmission) to the rotation of a needle around a circular gauge. “Circle” is the native language of the car.. at least for the drivetrain. Additional translation from circular rotation to the linear movement of a mercury thermometer, for example, would have added cost and complexity to the mechanical design. When cars had lower top speeds, there were some dashboards with more linear instrumentation layouts, but they achieved that by shorter travel of a longer needle along the arc of a bigger circle. True linear movement speed gauges are very rare. Gregor noted that his speedo had a non-uniform scale. Well, check out this old Cadillac; the scale is stretched out on both ends. However, in the 1980’s, there was an eletronical revolution that rendered the cable and magnet setup unnecessary; it was replaced with electromagnetic speed sensors, electronically controlled needles, and sometimes digital numeric displays. Fast-forward to 2012 where we now have almost complete control over the instrument panel layout and can project graphics onto Heads-Up Displays (HUDs) that seem to hover in space in front of the driver. The cluster below from the latest BMW 5 series is a 10.25″ LCD screen that displays distinct graphics depending on the selected driving mode. Two modes are shown below; ECO PRO and SPORT. Note that in SPORT mode with manual shifts activated, the two main gauges are connected by a red glow to signify the important relationship between them, as I described above. With adaptive display technology like the BMW LCD panel as well as alternative energy systems, we now have both new information to display, and new possibilities for displaying it. Now is the time to start brainstorming new instrument panel layouts. Speedometers of the future are not shackled to the radial layout of the past. I’m open to radically different shapes and sizes of displays, but they’ll have to be thoughtfully designed to outshine the beloved dial.   Paul Van Slembrouck (@ptvan) is a visualization designer with a lead foot, based in Detroit.

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The Seasons According to San Francisco http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/07/13/the-seasons-according-to-san-francisco/ Sat, 14 Jul 2012 01:10:47 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/07/13/the-seasons-according-to-san-francisco/ Growing up in the Midwest, I experienced something that those born and living in sunny California have not: seasons. A Midwestern July, for example, is incredibly hot and sticky, approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit and humid. During summer, tall grey clouds frequently appear, pouring buckets of water and shooting spears of Read more...

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Growing up in the Midwest, I experienced something that those born and living in sunny California have not: seasons. A Midwestern July, for example, is incredibly hot and sticky, approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit and humid. During summer, tall grey clouds frequently appear, pouring buckets of water and shooting spears of fire at houses. In September and October, leaves do a strange thing — they acquire yellow, orange, and red hues, then leap gracefully toward the ground from their usual habitat. Between the months of November and February, fluffy white stuff falls from the sky and slippery puddles develop on the ground. At times, you may find your car covered in a glassy material that must be removed before you can drive it. In the City by the Bay, I haven’t detected such seasonal changes. These drawings are my best approximation of what I’ve observed in San Francisco.

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Charts Giving You a Hard Time? http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/06/28/bar-charts-behaving-badly/ Thu, 28 Jun 2012 22:15:30 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/06/28/bar-charts-behaving-badly/ The post Charts Giving You a Hard Time? appeared first on ScribbleLive.

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Learning From Real-Life Data Vis (and Visual.ly Visualized) http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/06/21/learning-from-real-life-data-vis-and-visual-ly-visualized/ Thu, 21 Jun 2012 21:17:22 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/06/21/learning-from-real-life-data-vis-and-visual-ly-visualized/ Data is everywhere, and you don’t even need a computer to visualize it. Sort a room full of people by height. Or, ask them to group themselves in different areas of the room depending on what smartphone OS they are running. Sort them by birthday. Group them by gender. Divide Read more...

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Data is everywhere, and you don’t even need a computer to visualize it. Sort a room full of people by height. Or, ask them to group themselves in different areas of the room depending on what smartphone OS they are running. Sort them by birthday. Group them by gender. Divide them into pet owners and non-owners. Group them by the number of bicycles they own. Have them move to either side of the room based on yes/no questions. Ask them to cluster based on which items on your meeting agenda they really want to talk about. (Let them know that leaving the room is a valid option too — vote with your feet.) This can be a great way to rouse a room-full of people and get them interacting and collaborating. We know from experience. It forced us to learn the delayed timing function on a Nikon DSLR. Oh, hold on. One of our designers was able to jump in at the last minute (via Photoshop).

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iPad Usage http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/06/15/ipad-usage/ Sat, 16 Jun 2012 01:58:13 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/06/15/ipad-usage/ Where do you use your iPad?

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Where do you use your iPad?

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Analyzing the Top 30 Infographics on Visually http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/05/14/top-30-viral-infographics/ Tue, 15 May 2012 00:30:25 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/05/14/top-30-viral-infographics/ Ever wonder what makes an infographic successful? Why do some infographics accumulate more than 1 million views and others, barely 100? We’ve talked about viral infographics before, from a creative process standpoint: the story, data and design of an infographic all play a role in whether it will appeal to Read more...

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Ever wonder what makes an infographic successful? Why do some infographics accumulate more than 1 million views and others, barely 100? We’ve talked about viral infographics before, from a creative process standpoint: the story, data and design of an infographic all play a role in whether it will appeal to the masses, as does the way it is promoted. But what does viral content have in common? There are more than 16,000 graphics and visualizations on Visual.ly, so comprehensive analysis would take some time. A good place to start is at the very top. Looking at the top 30 pieces of content on the site should yield some clues that will guide more analysis in the future. The primary statistic used is unique pageviews accumulated since the Visual.ly website launched in July 2011. Each of the top 30 graphics received more than 23,000 unique pageviews. Most of the success of a properly promoted graphic happens within the first week or two of being published, so the length that a particular piece has been on the site will not make a substantial difference in performance here. Also, note that none of the most popular uploads are interactive graphics or videos. The graphics can be grouped into buckets based on four dimensions: 1. Content Type 2. Content Domain, or topic: food, photography, sex, etc. 3. Design Type 4. Contains Data Visualization? – Yes or No We’ll look at content type (1), design type (3), and data visualization (4) in this post, and leave a study of content domains, or topics, for another day.

Four Content Types

(The SVG charts embedded below link to the individual graphics, but may not appear in some browsers). 1. Observational Humor This bucket includes graphics that pick up on trending memes or long-standing social phenomena to make them visible by illustrating what we already know, or by combining observations in a new way to come up with a humorous result. The graphic about popular Halloween costumes is a simple illustration of a trend with which we’re already vaguely familiar. The Future According to Films and Advertising vs Reality take ideas presented to us in media and compare them to what we know to be true in our daily lives. 54,097 avg. unique views per graphic (excluding outlier) 2. Novel Insights This bucket includes any new way of looking at something, whether by presenting research that uncovers new information, or by combining existing information in a new way. To qualify for this bucket, the graphic must contain some new insight that has not generally been common knowledge before it was published. 45,440 avg. unique views per graphic (excluding outlier) 3. How To Any instructional guide would fall into this bucket. Encyclopedic and “How It Works” graphics are included, too. The information is generally not time-sensitive, potentially providing content value for years to come. These designs are not particularly good from an aesthetic perspective, but that doesn’t matter much, as the value of the content lies in addressing questions that large audiences are interested in. 41,287 avg. unique views per graphic (excluding outlier) 4. Timely Issue This bucket includes graphics tied to news events or significant dates, such as graphics made upon the death of an important person, the release of a video game, an upcoming holiday, a public offering of stock from a hot company, or the growth of a popular civil movement. 36,724 avg. unique views per graphic

Six Design Types

You can think of these six design types as differing by the way they are consumed. A process graph, like a flowchart or decision tree, is read differently than a single chart or a timeline. If we analyzed more than 30 graphics, we might come up with different buckets, but these serve the given sample nicely. The average unique pageviews for each type are listed below, including the high-performing outliers. Should I Text Him? is the only process graph in the sample. We find that the two most viewed types do not contain visualizations of quantitative data (the process graph is a visualization of relationships). Single charts are likely successful because they are easy to consume; the viewer only needs to learn how to read one “chunk” of visualization to get the whole story. Simplicity lends itself to quick understanding and sharing, whereas complexity can prevent a viewer from reaching those points. Curiously, mixed charts, which is what we commonly think of as the typical form of an infographic, is the least successful here, perhaps because they take more mental work to consume completely, again pointing to simplicity and brevity as strengths in visual communication.

The Three Outliers

There are three graphics excluded from some calculations above because they would heavily skew the resulting average. Why did these particular graphics perform so well? What Are The Odds813,334 unique views This is the single most viewed graphic on Visual.ly. Ali Binazir, the author of the study on which the graphic is based, strung a variety of statistics pertaining to mating, survival, and particles in the universe to come up with the probability that you are alive. Mathematically, it’s a nonsensical mishmash of stuff, but that doesn’t deter casual readers, because emotionally, it’s aimed directly at the ultimate question of existence that nearly every human has pondered. Here, the details of the content are less important than the uncommon moment of reflection and awe that this graphic creates, which inspires heavy sharing. Should I Text Him?537,770 unique views The second most viewed graphic on the site combines the content type of Observational Humor with the content domain of sex, something that’s on everyone’s mind whether they like to admit it or not. The graphic represents a situation that many people (male and female) can relate to, and the overall complexity is a sly joke about how women can over-think dating and romance. Formal Dining Setting213,990 unique views Apparently a whole lot of people want to know how to set the dinner table properly. This graphic is pure utility, with no humor, visual style, or marketing objective. One could make some incredibly successful graphics answering simple questions like this (hint, hint).

Does Data Visualization Matter?

Data visualization certainly matters when it comes to conveying information effectively, but when it comes to sharing, the answer is no: having data to represent is not a critical ingredient in infographics. More than half, or 53%, of the top 30 graphics do not contain data visualization. And by data visualization, we mean visual objects that are sized, colored, or positioned to represent numerical values.

The X-Factor: Social Promotion

An important caveat: the success of any content on the web is heavily influenced by how well it is promoted by blogs and social media power-users. Quality alone will not yield viral graphics. We see that the quality of visual style seems to have little importance, whereas the quality and simplicity of the idea represented has much more weight.

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The Beatles’ Hierarchy of Needs http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/04/23/the-beatles-hierarchy-of-needs/ Tue, 24 Apr 2012 02:30:25 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/04/23/the-beatles-hierarchy-of-needs/ The post The Beatles’ Hierarchy of Needs appeared first on ScribbleLive.

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Drawn: Idioms and Phrases http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/04/20/drawn-idioms-and-phrases/ Sat, 21 Apr 2012 03:40:48 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/04/20/drawn-idioms-and-phrases/ What better way to spend a sunny Friday afternoon in San Francisco than sketching a few idioms. Can you guess what they are? Leave a comment. 1. Try staying close to the ground… 2. Trying to forget something? 3. Seeking revenge? 4. Here’s a double shot (or, two idioms in Read more...

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What better way to spend a sunny Friday afternoon in San Francisco than sketching a few idioms. Can you guess what they are? Leave a comment. 1. Try staying close to the ground… bigger, falling harder
2. Trying to forget something?
3. Seeking revenge?
4. Here’s a double shot (or, two idioms in one chart).. Have ideas for others? Send your sketches to contact [at] visual.ly (include “drawn idioms” in the subject line). We’ll publish some of the best in a future blog post.

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How to Produce Motion Graphics http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/04/12/how-to-produce-motion-graphics/ Thu, 12 Apr 2012 06:14:21 +0000 http://www.scribblelive.com/blog/2012/04/12/how-to-produce-motion-graphics/ Over the past few years, animators have carved out a new niche for themselves promoting brands and causes, and explaining products, services, or complex subject matters. The wave of animated videos they’ve collectively produced and uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, and the landing pages of startups everywhere fall under the heading Read more...

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Over the past few years, animators have carved out a new niche for themselves promoting brands and causes, and explaining products, services, or complex subject matters. The wave of animated videos they’ve collectively produced and uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, and the landing pages of startups everywhere fall under the heading “Motion Graphics.” Considering that video is one of the most effective ways to quickly convey information, motion graphics are now high on the list of priorities for organizations wishing to woo customers or charm investors and donors. Creating a motion graphic may cost as little as $5,000 when working with one or two independent artists, or up to $50,000 when working with a full-service production house. Currently, Adobe’s After Effects is the most common tool for creating motion graphics, but as web technology advances, we might start to see more in-browser animation using HTML5. If you’re considering commissioning motion graphics or learning how to create them yourself, but aren’t sure where to start, here’s an overview of the production process.

Initial Concept

What is the video about? Identify the single idea you want viewers to come away with, and lay out the supporting points. What’s the structure of the story? You may pose a problem and then demonstrate how your product or service is the best solution to that problem. Read more about structuring your initial concept in this article by visualization instructor Liz Burow.

Visual Style

Select a visual style to use in the animation. Will the artwork be cartoonish or realistic? Flat or three-dimensional? What color palette will you use? Will there be visual representations of lead characters (known as “heroes”) in the story, or does it consist only of text and artwork? What will those characters look like? Will your target audience identify with the style? What visual metaphors will you use to communicate the key concepts in your message? To establish visual style when working with animators, find examples of videos that you like and send them as reference, or allow the creators to come up with an aesthetic from scratch based on their interpretation of your brand and objectives.

Script Writing

Start with a rough outline of the narrative of your story, which will later be translated into visual objects and movements, voiceover, sound effects, and music. First, lay out the main points you want to make, then start writing, word-for-word, what you want the narrator and characters to say (whether it’s voiced over or only text on the screen). Keep in mind that time is very limited in videos: the shorter, the better. If you can get your message across in 30 seconds, that’s fantastic. Sixty seconds is acceptable; 90 seconds is typically the maximum recommended time. Reading the script at a moderate pace will provide a rough estimate of how long the video will be.

Story Template by Nancy Duarte
For example, Nancy Duarte uses a simple structure to create the drama that keeps viewers interested: repeatedly showing the state of the world now (“what is”) in contrast with your vision of a better way to do whatever it is that you do (“what could be”). Then finish by painting a clear picture of the destination (think of it as a postcard from the future that you are inviting people to participate in). It helps to understand that emotional appeal and convenience are significant factors in moving a viewer to action. Behavior often follows the path of least resistance, so you’ll want to make a call to action that ‘sas frictionless as possible to follow up on. All of the calculated, sensible reasons to take action won’t be effective without corresponding emotional impetus and clear directives.
Sample Storyboard Template

Storyboard

This is where you first start to create visuals and sounds that correspond to the script. Lay out all critical moments in the script, known as “style frames”. You may want to start with sticky notes that you can rearrange freely. At each critical step in the narrative, quickly sketch what is happening in the scene, and what actions any characters are taking. Write a short description of the scene and any narration, sounds, or on-screen text that occur at this moment.

Sound (voiceover, music & sound effects)

Some motion graphics may consist primarily of animated text, while a mood-setting song plays in the background. Others can have full-blown animated characters speaking with different voices, sound effects corresponding to their actions, and custom music. You may have to purchase a license to use copyrighted songs, or you may choose to have original music created for you. Voiceover (or “VO”) involves a casting process similar to selecting actors for a TV show. If you’re working with a full-service producer, they’ll take a portion of your script and send it out to voice actors, who will then audition by recording their reading of your script. A single voice actor might return up to a half-dozen readings in different styles by changing the intonation, mood, and cadence in their voice. If you’re working independently, you will have to track down freelance voice talent online or through recommendations.

Animation

Now pieces start to come together. The animators will typically attempt to animate one or two style frames in the script using the established visual style. This is something of a rough draft and an opportunity for feedback before the bulk of the animation work happens, to minimize lengthy revisions later. Next, full animation will begin. The commissioner will see a full draft of the animation, including voiceover, and have a chance to make any minor changes. After the animation is finalized, final timing, voice over, music, and sound effects will be added and carefully placed to complete the project. Browse motion graphics on Visual.ly

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