A Complete Guide to Creating Animated Information Graphics
- 2 hours on-demand video
- Full lifetime access
- Access on mobile and TV
- Certificate of Completion
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- plan and design an animated information graphic project
- model, animate, and render in 3D
- explore data in 3D
- Trial version of Autodesk Maya
- An interest in visual storytelling
- simple tools for storyboarding
This is a two part class.
In part 1 you'll learn how to create information graphics that use data and reveal stories through animation. You'll learn how to go from data/reporting to an engaging and animated information graphic.
What you will learn
- An overview of the approach to starting with a set of data and assets
- Figuring out the story and whats important or interesting about the data
- Creating a hierarchy of interesting elements and an organizational scheme
- Writing a script
- Creating the final storyboard
We'll also cover things like best practices and some tips to keep in mind as you work on your project.
What you will make
Students will make a storyboard for an animated information graphic.
In part 2 you will get started on how to model, render, animate, and visualize data using the power of 3-dimensional design, and give a foundational overview of the 3D software package, Autodesk Maya. Graham has been using this software to create a wide variety of information design projects at The New York Times, and will relate these skills to work created in the journalism environment and beyond.
What you will learn
What you will make
Students will model, render, and animate a simple thermos as a way to learn the fundamentals.
WHO THIS CLASS IS FOR
This class is for anyone interested in data, information graphics, animation, and visual storytelling. If you are a designer, journalist, animator or simply interested in how this kind of work comes together, this class is for you!
- visual storytellers
- interested in 3D
- interested in data
Welcome to Animated Information Graphics! By the end of this class you will know how to plan these projects in full, as well as a tool, Maya, to execute your ideas.
- Choose your story carefully. Consider what kind of story will benefit from visual explanation in order to be best understood. This could be anything from a major recent news event, to a local infrastructure project, to a historical look at a topic. I also find that sports and science topics are good places to look because of an abundance of readily available statistical data.
- File away visual ideas. Don't jump too early to decide the form your graphic should take. Wait until you have fully reported the topic and let the reportage guide you.
1. Report broadly on your topicTry to learn everything you can about your topic, and only then begin to consider the kind of more specific reporting you will need for your visual approach.
Find the best angle for your explanation. What element of the story can be best illuminated through the use of a visual explanation?
Determine what you will need to create your project. If you are working with an architectural scene, for example, can you settle for photo reference to get the right general look, or do you need a level of detail that requires architectural plans or even CAD models? If you are collecting a data set, will you need a specific, narrow time frame, or will you require data across all time?
Consider learning about data scraping: http://www.propublica.org/nerds/item/upton-a-web-scraping-framework
Decide what is most important. It is unlikely that everything you have collected is interesting or of equal importance in telling the story you want to tell.
Don't say to your audience, "here is some data, I hope you find something interesting."
Consider the flow of your project. The flow and pacing you establish in this step will help you find out if the hierarchy you established is working or not.
Does it want to:
- bring an idea full circle,
- or is it a compare and contrast between two or more ideas.
- Maybe it has multiple threads that should ultimately converge,
- or perhaps it should build cumulatively until it reveals a final whole.
Practice using the different modeling tools.
In this lesson we examine a number of modeling tools that will allow you to create a wide range of geometry.
- This includes:
- editing by component
- face extrusion
- boolean operations
- sculpt geometry tools
- cut faces tools
Practice using the different animation tools.
In this video we learn the fundamental tools for creating animations in Maya.
- This includes:
- how to create keyframe based animation
- using the graph editor
- animation layers
- creating playblast previews
- beginner rigging
- using cameras
Practice using the different rendering options.
- In these videos, we learn a variety of rendering techniques including:
- adding shaders to your model
- manipulating textures
- adding lights and cameras to the scene
- maya software renderer, mental ray renderer, and vector renderer
- working with render layers
Using the class model, or a model of your own creation, add shaders, textures, and lighting and create some renderings.
Then share these images with the class.
Output a frame sequence of an animation, and compile these frames into a quicktime video, and share the video with the class.
Familiarize yourself with code in Maya
- Experiment with using MEL to create, and manipulate objects in Maya.Try creating and then manipulating an object as we learned in earlier videos, then look at the script editor and see how Maya expressed these actions in code.Then create a small program using these instructions to recreate yoru actions using code alone.Share your MEL code with the class along with some screenshots showing what the code produced.