Digital works, Motion graphics

#infofails chapter 02 (plastic bottles)

 

About #infofails post series:

I have a lot of beta graphics versions that never goes public. I do two or three versions of a graphic, sometimes just a concept as part of the creation process to get a better solution. Where all that material goes?  well, ends-up in #infofails, a collection of my work fails.

This time I’ll like to share a little bit of the backstage of the plastic bottles project published a few days ago. If you haven’t seen it yet, Have a look here: https://tmsnrt.rs/2PDRvhd

The opening of this project is a short video of plastic bottles covering a garbage truck and a standing guy. To get that piece I did a few testing versions, all together neede almost 400 hours of rendering including the final piece.

demo_192

Early attempt. The bottles just run away from the pile because of the friction and mass assigned

Just to keep a sense of scale I did also a few graphics for my self to be sure that all the calculations were correct and also to get a sense of what I was doing. But after talking with some experts and friends the numbers needed to be adjusted.

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One of the thing that helps me a lot was a plug-in for Cinema 4D from Cesar Vonoc. I was chatting with my bosses about how difficult it was to calculate the volume of organic objects in C4D, for the next day they had found this tool that literally gives me the chance to make organic shapes and keep the accuracy needed too. Thanks Matthew and Simon.

Here some ugly early testing drooping bottles and making piles:

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Technical part for nerds

My first idea on Cinema 4D was to use an object cloner to create 1 million of copies of my original bottle, then adding dynamics to them let them fall in a cascade, testing with a few objects was ok, but then I wasn’t able to load more than half-million before the computer crashes so for big fail…

1m_EMTT_0286

Particle emitter demo using 310,000 bottles

demo_0267

Render testing. The computer failed to render on the frame 267 of 1500

clons_160k_055

Cloner version, the computer crashed rendering any over 170,000 clones

Even using a very simple geometry for the bottles, my laptop wasn’t powerful enough to manage my crazy request, after I removed the fancy texture of each bottle it moved a little better, but not enough to reach 1 million of copies.

I solved the issue using a particle emitter for the 1 million objects during a little more than a minute, using a basic material to add textures and effects in after effects later, even with all these adjustments to the process the render took over one week to be completed. Lucky me my laptop is still alive!

clons

Demo to show the number of plastic bottles sold every second.

Them some pile shapes and concepts of how it will look at the end. I was adjusting the behavior of the particles, some adjustments in the textures, lights, camera position… many aspects to present a nicer view of this to the readers

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While the production continued, I did a second version of the website controlling the zoom of a giant render by scrolling the camera passing from the smaller pile of 1 second to the final visualization of 10 years. But the images were too big and the quality not good enough.

 

I have to say that this time I did around 22 versions of every single graphic, looking for the right elements, proportions… Every time I had a new version, we had a chat at the team to point out things that could be improved. Some just change shape, but others like the NYC model also change concepts.

v17_static_NYC

Testing textures for a plastic bottle pile over Manhattan.

static_NYC_v11

Testing textures for a plastic bottle pile over Manhattan.

tenYears_layer

An alternative version of the graphic using all the bottles spread out over Manhattan

v19_static_NYC

An alternative version to visualize the bottles sold over the last 10 years

v18_static_NYC

Uniform extension of the bottles sold over the last 10 years over Manhattan

city.png

A cutaway version to get a sense a deep

I did also an attempt to make all of the pieces in the same “3D look”, but at the time I was doing the information more confusing, finally, we just drop the idea and stay stuck to the original Sankey chart show what happened with the plastic created over the last 65 years

fate_v2

The fate of all plastic. Version 3.

This was an extremely interesting project, I experimented a lot with different things but maybe the time to verify each of the countless versions and polish the results really made the difference at the end. Thanks to my bosses Simon Scarr and Mathew Weber and my colleagues Manas Sharma and Alex Richardson who also contributed a lot to launch this project in good shape.

If you want to see the finished project and some other graphics, here is the link to the special feature on Reuters:
https://tmsnrt.rs/2PDRvhd

Or have a look to #infofails Chapter one:
https://mhinfographics.com/2019/09/03/infofails-chapter-01-pilot/

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Digital works

#infofails chapter 01 (pilot)

I have a lot of beta graphics versions that never goes public. I do two or three versions of a graphic, sometimes just a concept as part of the creation process to get a better solution. So, I want to start a new series of #infofails with all that material. Someone once said:

nobody learns from the mistakes of someone else

Of course, this is a statement to make your own mistakes but is sooo funny to see how someone else fails too 😁  so here my fails at work:

My first entry on #infofails is about this project we run a few days ago about the wildfires near the Arctic.

Map_Aug5

Wildfires project. 3D wold map or aerosol. Version 01

The map above is a Cinema 4D render, it was made based on NASA data of aerosol, basically, I took the GeoTIFF provided by NASA and using the hair module I create using that reference. Basically, each of the pillars in the map is hair:

c4d.png

Cinema 4D, hair map by July 24, 2019. Based on NASA’s aerosol data.

mod_24jul_elevation.jpg

Screenshot of the Geotiff of July 24. This determinated how high and where the pillar will rise.

My first idea on this project was to show the readers how the fires boosted up the aerosol levels and how it spread out around the world. the first version you saw on top was an attempt to show a little of that story. Later I move on an animated version of the map, as you saw bellow.

 

Map_Jul24

Wildfires project. 3D wold map or aerosol. Version 01.2

I was very happy with the look, but then I try to explain the map to the people and no one got it right. Also when you add “NASA data”, “3D model” and interactive in the same sentence things tend to become harder to explain in a quick and easy way.

I think the best feedback I get in the testing versions was that the earth map was too difficult to recognize. So I did some other versions.

aerosol_ed_14.gif

Wildfires project. 3D wold map or aerosol. Version 02

Then I got the idea to change the data, thinking that carbon monoxide maybe will be something more familiar, easier to explain and communicate.  So another version using different data come-up.

carbon-crop-map.gif

Wildfires project. 3D wold map or carbon monoxide. Version 02

 

carbon-md-ago8

But doing this I returned back to the main issue of the map, how to explain this map, the data and the main story here… too much to do it effectively.

I think this time I was trying to show something different and a little attached to use this technique. On top of that, I was working with dense data trying to say hey look here, near Siberia, see how crazy it goes but most of the people stay only trying to figure out the map…

final.png

Final version. Carbon data polar projection.

I end up using a polar projection on a regular map to tell my story. The map above is a frame of the animation, then I separate 3 key points at the bottom with little comments. I think now the story is clearer. I have to say that my editors made good points when they had a look into this project.

If you want to see full project and some other graphics, here is the link to the special feature on Reuters:
https://tmsnrt.rs/2PCvoYD

Stay tuned for the next #infofails

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Digital works, Motion graphics, Print graphics

My sincere gratitude to the South China Morning Post

Back in 2016, I was moving from Costa Rica to Hong Kong to face a new challenge. Full of dreams and hungry of learning, I arrived at the South China Morning Post doors. There I found new friends and colleagues and learn a lot from all of them. Today I have the same feeling once again, and I want to say thanks to all that people that I meet here in Hong Kong because they change in a way or another my professional and personal life, I really can’t mention names because there are many people and I don’t want to leave anyone out

In three years at the South China Morning Post, I collaborate in 30 print pages and I have good memories for all of them, some remind me of a trip with a friend to collect information in China, a rush hour with a piece of breaking news, or a long project that I only talk about day after day (oh poor friends of mine, I’m sorry )

Bellow, some of the print graphics memories I create at the South China Morning Post

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I had fun doing full-page graphics at the South China Morning Post print ed, and the online was an awesome sandbox where I found the freedom to test and play with pretty much all the topics that come to my mind, my first graphics as stand-alone were the Statues Graphic and the lightning project

process_2

Statues drawings

And some of those first steps at the South China Morning Post

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But maybe the more recent ones were the most I enjoy because of the diversity of ways to work, some times doing projects by my self and some others collaborating in bigger projects with the other artist, visual journalist and designers. That’s the case of the Forbidden City series collecting data and working in graphics on for a year

The biggest project that I ever did up to today, and at the same time one I enjoy the most was the Forbidden City, below the Part One print version. To be honest, I’m very bad doing drawings, but since I get here I face a lot of projects where the drawings were the essence of the graphic, like this all manually made:

The-cricket-cage

Forbidden City series, part one for the print

And the extended digital chapters, which in my case covered the architecture aspects of the Forbidden City in Beijing:

Maybe the most exhaustive part was the built of the of the VR feature in the second chapter made with Cinema 4D:

c4d

Here the output on youtube 360/VR:

…and some more of the stuff of the Forbidden City Series, small animations and graphics

I can say that I try pretty much all kind of topics in the South China Morning Post from many soccer graphics to the architecture ones, Chinese projects like the new the Silk Road (OBOR), of the perception of the rule of law, explosionsweather conditions, the moon events, crazy aircraft stories, game-like graphics about food, vessel tragedies like the Aulac and the Sanchi tanker, trend games like Pokemons hunting, a lot of Trump, and the Brexit, automobile technology, and snakes, my fascination with Asians anatomy, always nice to have some time off so I also did one about holidays; if you want to know where you can go with your documents and how much it cost I did one about the passports too; graphics about Chinese cities, Hong Kong’s ageing population, war vehicles, why no toilets too; the Golden Globe Awards, celebrations like San Valentine, or where the Asians lives in the US; all about North Korea in 15 graphics, the evolution of Peral River Delta considered the Chinese silicon valley; Spanish Galleons crossing the Pacific heading to China’s goods; Thai kids trapped in a cave; automation and industrial robots and many many more that I can’t remember now. All those with a nice touch of memories because work at the South China Morning Post graphics team was more about have fun with the stuff you love to do rather than just work

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My last project with the South China Morning Post was the Tibet permafrost, and there wasn’t a better way to finish my time there like doing one last project with my teammates like the ones I enjoy for 3 years

cover_SQUARE_50

Permafrost cover

coverpermafrost02_W

Cover illustration by Adolfo Arranz

tibet-plateau

Permafrost extension in the northern hemisphere

For the print, I split the project into two backpages, so I can make a more specific topic on extreme temperatures, on my point of view a Goldilocks place were the temperature is too hot in one place and incredible cold in the other

Extreme Earth is blowing hot and cold

My last page at the South China Morning Post, published in February 2019.

As I set in the title of this post, this is just to say thanks to all you guys that help me to evolve and create more and more. Thanks to the Hispanic gang of the South China Morning Post; thanks to my British boss today a good friend, to the friends at Hong Kong University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong Design Institute and the Baptist University that also open their doors to me, all my Hongkongneer friends and all the South China Morning Post family that let me be part of that amazing experience

From now on, my graphics will appear in the Reuters pages, lucky me to work there with more good friends. Hope to come back soon here, to my website, to write about some new graphics and backstages made for the world

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Awards, Digital works

SND 40th edition (digital)

The first week of February (2019) the Society for News Design announced the results of the 40th edition of the Best of Digital News Design hosted in Washington DC. They granted 5 Gold Medals, 36 Silver Medals and an amazing number of 408 Bronze awards

DzSIIT0V4AAquso

If you are new in the field, this event is the equivalent of Olympics of news, Media from all across the globe picks and send entries of the best of the year (2018 in this case) and an international jury dig-in for a few days seen the best of the best

This year result was very good for the South China Morning Post ranking as 4th globally because a few years ago we didn’t do anything special for online, here is a little more of background here if you like. Below the table of medals for the 40th edition:

MEDIA Bronze Silver Gold Total
The New York Times 62 11 3 76
The Washington Post + The Lily 48 10 0 58
Reuters 53 2 0 55
South China Morning Post 23 1 0 24
ProPublica 19 3 0 22
ESPN 17 2 0 19
The Globe and Mail 15 0 0 15
National Geographic 11 1 1 13
Bloomberg News 11 0 0 11
The Los Angeles Times 10 0 0 10
Globoesporte.com 8 0 0 8
The Wall Street Journal 8 0 0 8
The Guardian 7 0 0 7
ABC News (Australia) 6 0 0 6
FiveThirtyEight 6 0 0 6
La Nacion (Argentina) 6 0 0 6
Quartz 6 0 0 6
TASS Russian News Agency 5 1 0 6

The complete table is available in the SND official website here. The following is a selection from among those 24 awards that the SCMP obtained that was part of my last year portfolio:

Why the world’s flight paths are such a mess

flightpaths

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
2 Bronze medals: Individual portfolio, Features transportation

The stones in the road for China’s 2025 plan on electric vehicles

cover

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
1 Silver: Use of maps
2 Bronze: Individual portfolio, Features transportation, Line of coverage

 

How China aims to dominate the world of robotics

robots

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
1 Bronze: Line of coverage ( MIC2025 series )

 

If football coaches were Russian dolls, who would be the biggest?

matrioshka

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
1 Bronze: Special events, Russia World Cup

 

The origins of Beijing’s Forbidden City

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[ CHAPTER 1 ] [ CHAPTER 2 ] [ CHAPTER 3 ] [ CHAPTER 9 ]
2 Bronze: Individual Portfolio, Line of coverage ( The Forbidden City Series )

Ten signature dishes from around the world

food

[ ACTIVE LINK HERE ]
1 Bronze: Individual Portfolio

Thanks to the Hispanic gang and all the SCMP graphics team that also got a lot more awards and for their collaboration in the production process last year, looking forward to knowing the result in the print next week in Florida.

For further info, you can see more details in the awards section here.

 

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Digital works

Backstage: electric vehicles

Illustration on top by Perry Tse

It has been a long time since my last post here, we got a lot of projects this year and there are few more to finish before the end of the year but I’m back anyway.

This time I’ll like to share a little about this project I made about electric cars, actually I made this “backstage” because some guys in Germany ask me to, I’m looking forward to see it in their website too. Anyway, here it is:

Shenzhen map

China’s electric cars map range

THE BACKSTAGE

The stones in the road for China’s 2025 plan on electric vehicles

This article is part of a series of visual stories we decide to cover about the Chinese Government plan to develop the country in the following years and set China as the top country in key areas. I assigned the topics to four of our colleagues and at the same time two topics to myself

Most of the data about electric cars was about sales, markets and boring stuff. It is important to explain why is important but not to create a visual story of it. That was a problem because the initial the idea came through that in particular

My solution was to complement that part with something else. Usually I make a document with everything I can find, any single topic, reference or interview then I pick the good ones to develop the analysis on it

After that, I split-up the topic in to mini-sections:

  1. Why is important (the boring part mostly done in small charts)
  2. Why is a problem (raw material providers)
  3. Why is difficult to achieve (findings watching a map)
  4. How it works (again small charts and diagrams)
EV simple chart

ICOA car sales report. One of the needed boring charts to complement the story

So, first section was done with the boring data. But when I was making more research I found this story about the Cobalt precedence, many data of production, the mix of minerals needed to the industry and how the minerals extracted manually in Africa will end-up in Europe or USA

EV_original sketches

Sketches of the cobalt extraction and trade flow.

Trying to understand this, I create a few sketches to myself, there I realised that was a nice idea to explain that part quick and ease and focus my effort into the maps section

Open Street Maps station results

Open Street Maps Tag info preview

My curiosity lead me to check if China had a public network of stations to recharge the cars. I now that USA have a lot of stations, but I never expected to find that few stations across the country, so I realise I have something nice to show

OSM stations.png

OSM stations imported into QGIS as vectors

I get there using the info tag website of Open Street Maps, funny I began with a huge area extension, but there was nothing around so, I just one more thing to get a nice story, the context in the visual

1920px-byd_electric_taxi

BYD E6 model. A taxi in Shenzhen, China.       Image https://www.wikiwand.com/en/BYD_e6

By the data sales (the boring data at the  beginning) I confirmed that the BYD electric car, particularly the E6 was the most popular car in China, according to the company, BYD’s E6 car model have a 300km battery range, so all I need to do was to trace 150km and 300 ranges from the stations over the roads of China to get a nice graphic

OSM_road_Network_and_stations-shenzhen.png

QGIS preliminary preview

I did this in QGIS, then I recoloured the map sections in photoshop to give it the desired aspect. For the print version I decided to leave only the range maps, but in paper the style doesn’t work so I create new versions of each of the maps. At the end I create four maps for desktop views, four to the mobile devices and five to the print version. Maybe is nice to mention I had a tight deadline, a week to do research, write the article, make the graphics, do the coding and make a print version of it.

Readers reaction was really good, the graphic reached the average views for our stories very fast, even becoming in one of the most read of this series. The print also was good, people in China got a copy and enjoyed, but I’m not sure how because the SCMP is banned in Mainland China

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Check the full visual story here

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blogging

Google it!

cover.jpg

Sometime ago I was googling and wondering where all that prediction data comes from. I mean, when you type on google any word or a few words instantaneously pop up 3-5 suggestions related to your search.

Many times the suggestions are simply hilarious, and not that many matches on what I trying to find.

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Anyway, all that data must be stored somewhere, so I took a walk in to the Google’s API worlds and… yes there is a prediction API service based on users inputs, categorised by languages of query’s and accumulated through years of searching. That means when you type something on Google browser, the prediction results displayed are based in the language of input, the popularity around your location thought the time and recent searches you probably made. (Probably not in that order and not always only that)

I know, I know… I’m a little freaky when I found some nice data, but there is a long time since I made a graphic for blogging just for fun, so I collect data from some popular languages to create a new visualisation just for fun.

I made the same input in different languajes:

  • Chinese simplified
  • Chinese traditional
  • Spanish
  • English
  • German
  • French
  • Russian
  • Portuguese
  • Indonesian
  • Japanese
  • Korean

All those languages and some others crossed with keywords like the following:

  • Why Chinese…
  • Why Chinese girls…
  • Why Chinese guys…

The idea was to trigger the Prediction API and in some way reflect the users behavior, stereotypes and maybe some fun content as well. Sometimes the combinations didn’t goes very well and don’t have much sense, so onces filtered, I turned the responses into color patterns all together in a single visualization.

Google_fixed.jpg

That work has been stored for a long time, part because the office is very busy but also because I was waiting to release a new project together with a good friend but finally last December we made it. So if you want to know more about this, take a look in to our new project: Wökpö Lab.

The nice part of this is having Wokpo now I can have a lot of fun more, go and check the digital version of this project, there you can input any keyword you want in any language and see by your self results of different cultures, their stereotypes, their fetish, or their curiosities here is the link again Wökpö Interactive Lab.

 

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Digital works, Print graphics

Nerd facts: Asian’s face characteristics graphic

About a year ago I move to Hong Kong from Costa Rica, in this crowded city I found many inspiration topics to do graphics, like lighting, statues, languages etc, but one of the biggest changes for me was Asians in self. I admire that many aspects of Asian culture that makes them unique, having that many different things around I was about to get crazy, even this simply every day stuff when I was traveling in the metro, walking in a street or wherever else, in my mind I was asking the same question:

What’s in the Asian face that makes them look Asian?

In all Asia are lots of cultures, ethnic groups with different characteristics, so I not ease to say Asians all together have this or that. So I try to look for major groups to talk about main groups.

maps

The GREG project (https://icr.ethz.ch/data/greg/) give me an idea of spread of groups of people and major ethnic groups across Asia.

The project to geo-reference ethnic groups conducted by Weidmann, Nils B., Jan Ketil Rød, and Lars-Erik Cederman in 2010 was very useful as a start point and to get a better understand of the topic. I use also plastic surgery medical articles to understand the structures and as a complement I collect samples of those major ethnic groups mentioned in the GREG project and Joshua project.

medical

Schemes of the article Blepharoplasty Plastics Surgery by Mark A. Codner and Renne M. Birke. 

ContactSheet-001

This are the samples of eyes of the major 63 ethnic groups in Asia based in data from GREG & Joshua projects 

 

I use the eye samples to create a graphic measuring the eyelid gap, inclination and length of the eyes based in the same iris size of each sample, the idea was to show that some times the inclination makes look narrower the eye.

eyes

Bottom section of the graphic showing from the narrower eyes to the wider gap.

I have to say that the suggestions and support of Marcelo Duhalde in this graphic makes the project a better final product. I believe that show the work and talk without filter is the best to create a better graphic, is a fresh new point of view and will improve your ideas.

13_eyeShape

Graphic process from sketch to published version

The online version of this graphic was the same information as the print, it have a small variations in the mobile including a few different graphics and shorted storytelling but at the end was just jpg images.

The funny part of this was that this graphics stays for a few days as the most read article of the scmp website and shared more then 10k times.

slide

Print full page version, desktop version and mobile version on the day of publication.

For this project I did the research in free short times in between other projects. I did keep hold this information for about a year awaiting for a chance to work on it and publish because we are just a few in our unit and there are many projects in the way. The production time was about a week, plus an other 10 days of research spread in to short times in a year.

Take a look in to the pint version in our print arcade:
http://multimedia.scmp.com/culture/article/SCMP-printed-graphics-memory/

Our in the online version released on July 04 2017:
http://www.scmp.com/node/2100532/

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