Digital works, infofails

#Infofails: Chapter 05, gold rush

I just realised that last time I did one of this chapters was last year, woow. My original idea was for me to publish one of these every three or four weeks … but reality has slapped me in the face: I don’t have time enough between projects.

Anyway, let’s talk about fails then.

That image at the top of this post is a QGIS render of the Amazon Basin made with data from Hydrosheds. It is part of the geographic data from my latest project on Reuters. But you may have never saw that thing anywhere in the project, unless not like that.

The Amazon Gold Project have a mix of styles including 3D, traditional sketching, vector works…

The 3D stage

I did some early versions of the maps using layers rendered in QGIS, a layer for terrain, base colour areas, borders, rivers etc. Then I re-pack all in Cinema 4D to create some side illumination.

Cycles C4D
Terrain layer test imported from QGIS, then rendered alone in C4D / Cycles

The idea was to try some alternative maps, at the end some illustrator labels and the dummy look something like this:

Map dummy with false text annotations

The 3D above was just a quick exercise while I was looking for styles. A bunch of images later, the things turned into flat images

And then to flat vector, probably taking out stuff from the map from crowded to cleaner to whatever…

Maybe I went too far because I really like how this was looking in outlines preview… someone should stop me at that time!

And it happened, in the end I went on to make other pieces putting pieces together on the page, bits of code, illustrations, etc.

If you already saw this project, you know that it has some illustrations, pieces that explain how illegal miners extract gold and contaminate rivers and destroy forests in the process.

Meanwhile I was also processing some satellite images, adding labels and looking for evidence of the miners from the space, then I saw some websites talking about the situation in Peru, so I look up the area in Sentinel and wooow!

I stumbled upon this place near the Peru-Brazil-Bolivia, border. Kilometres and Kilometres of devastation by the gold miners, a strip of more than 30km into the forest and actually I saw it for first time in false color, in near infrared, so the image was shocking to me.

Madre de Dios mining pits. Sentinel Hub, false color, near infrared.
Madre de Dios mining pit. Sentinel Hub, false color, near infrared.

Later we move to true color, trying to match the other satellite images that we had chosen earlier for this project, but still you have the feeling of the immensity of the destruction of these sites. I think that images have an immense power to present the damage dimension

5-6 km long section of mining pits at Madre de Dios. (Sentinel Hub, True color)
Sentinel Hub, true color.
Sentinel Hub, true color.

So, I’ll say, fails in here, YES, well I spend a lot of time looking for alternative styles, experimentation is nice I collected a lot of information, but maybe I went too far styling place holders… Anyway I enjoy a lot this project, but and I’m more than happy that is already over.

About #infofails post series:
I keep my beta graphics, those that never go public… Maybe they are tons of versions of a graphic or just a few concepts, part of my creative process. So, where all those things go? well, ends-up in #infofails –a collection of my fails at work.

Did you like #infofails?
Have a look to other #infofails Chapters here:

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blogging, Digital works, infofails

The last chapter of #infofails… [of 2019]

About #infofails post series: I have a lot of beta graphics that never go public, it can be tons of versions of a graphic or just a few concepts as part of my creative process. So, where all those things go? well, ends-up in #infofails –a collection of my fails at work.

This 2019 is almost gone, big media is doing their “year in graphics” collections, meanwhile I’m in the rush hour trying to fit one more graphic in this year. I’m looking back trough this year, and it has been a crazy one; many unexpected things and lots of changes for me. That’s the case of this project I want to share with you, is one of those unexpected results, or un-result to be accurate.

himalayas

Death rates at the Himalayas peaks

The Mount Everest project (screengrab above) started as a great opportunity for a data narrative, the story behind was the bloom in the climbers amount, many times resulting deathly for them; the whole team was doing pieces to get this story online, if you didn’t saw it, here’s the final result of the project: CLICK HERE. Have a look first, then come back to this story for a better context.

 

 

The fail story

My fails begun when I was trying to get an accurate model of the mountain, I first tried doing some elevation curves map, like the one on top of this entry. The main problem here was to get a good resolution, I was taking as base a 90m DEM produced by NASA, the files are great and works most of the times, but not to the level of detail I was looking for.

himalayas.jpg

90m DEM by SRTM/NASA. This was the starting point.

 

This thing works for a general overview of the whole mountain system of the Himalayas. To me, it was look in a good shape. By exaggerating the elevation, the idea was to add a color range or some other texture to visualize the heights, so then point out the mountains other than the Everest were the climbers usually go.

elevation profile.jpg

Version #1 Himalayas peaks

You maybe noticed that usually I do 1-5 versions of the images to try different ideas, in this case, I didn’t went any further because in the middle of the production some other projects came in. Fortunately my teammates got some other ideas, they took the project from this stage forward. I just jumped in again at the end to collaborate with the finishing touches and adjustments, so I can’t take any credit.

But going back to my fails, I did a few more pieces before the no return point in this project, one of them, a preview of the contours growing-up:

elevation.gif

Everest and surroundings, model based in 90m data by SRTM/NASA.

Also I try some more realistic look using a 30M DEM from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission. That one was looking better, but I was already out of time:

crop06_0090.jpg

C4D textured model based on 30m DEM data by SRTM/NASA

basic_gshade.pn

Basic shading. C4D model based in 30m DEM by SRTM/NASA

wiref_01

Color ramp by height, Himalayas system. C4D model based in 30m DEM by SRTM/NASA

wiref_04

Mount Everest close-up. C4D model based in 30m DEM by SRTM/NASA

There was also an other idea to show in this graphic. I was thinking that maybe will be nice to show the equipment that modern climbers uses today in comparison with the equipment of explorers from 60 yeas ago when the mountains were the final frontiers of the unknown. Is incredible that teams went there with heavy and basic equipment and yet make it to the mountain (with great help from the Sherpas of course).

50s_sketch.jpg

Climbers equipment detail. Based in documentation of the British expedition of 1950.

Not sure if this graphic of comparisons will be published or not, so I’ll upload just a tiny little part without information or details, but who knows, you maybe see it next year either at Reuters website, or here as another of my fails for your entertainment haha.

It has been a pleasure to have your comments and readings this year, I hope we will read each other soon.

Happy holidays!

________
Did you like #infofails?
Have a look to other #infofails Chapters here:

–Chapter One
–Chapter Two
–Chapter Three 

Stay tuned for the next chapter in 2020! 🥳

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Digital works, infofails

Violence in Hong Kong // chapter 03 #infofails

About #infofails post series:

I have a lot of beta graphics that never go public, it can be tons of versions of a graphic or just a few concepts as part of my creative process. So, where all those things go?  well, ends-up in #infofails –a collection of my fails at work.

This time I’ll like to share a little bit of the backstage of the Hong Kong raising violence project. If you haven’t seen it yet, Have a look here first and come back to the article later to get a better context of this:

https://reut.rs/2qbMZdi

This year in the Asia Pacific region, one of the strongest topics of every day in the news is the protest in Hong Kong. Every newsroom here has been doing a lot of related work to the situation, and only seems to be worse and worse through the time.

sample

Screenshot of the section dedicated to the use of tear gas by the Hong Kong Police.

We spend a lot of time checking the information with the Police press releases and many different sources just to get simple charts to show/prove if the violence is increasing or not. I guess we spend more time taking care of little details rather than doing the visual display of the piece. That’s one of the best things I can highlight on the Reuters graphics team.

Police_gun_01_VZ

Concepts for the Police equipment display

social_02

Final version show in the story

It’s funny how this year I been doing so many illustrations for projects. I don’t see myself as an artist. In fact, I feel sorrow about my sketches because the quality of my drawings is not good enough, in part because I have friends with huge skills like Adolfo Arranz and  Daniel Solano but, talking about graphics, I feel that I should try things outside my comfort zone, no matter if it’s a 3D tool, hand made sketches, vector graphics or the result a few lines of code… It is an endless search for new ways to effectively communicate our stories.

The following concept of a graphic about the water cannon truck of Hong Kong Police is a piece I started for this project. The issue here was that the story was getting longer and longer, so, the editor decided to drop out the graphic. I always keep a folder with every version, sources and other related material, because you never know if you will need something of that later.

large

Large desktop version // ai2html L artboard

md

medium version // ai2html MD artboard

sm

devices version // ai2html SM artboard

xs

Small devices version // ai2html XS artboard

Finally, we use that same illustration in a launcher, with some minor adjustments in the amount of water released by the cannon. That’s the image at the top of this publication, on the right the original illustration, and on the left, the edited version for banners.

Something else in this project with a lot of versions was the opening illustration, just a few of the was about color, I have clear that color must match with the bar charts in the story, but anyway I like to give a try to some variations, that helps sometimes to go back a do little retouches to the final piece.

opening_versions.jpg

Opening color variations.

The most complicated thing to solve was smoke. It really asked me a lot to achieve the effects indicated there. We were looking for a subtle effect, otherwise will go as plain static cover image (which also was good) but I like to complicate my self for some reason:

 

social_03.gif

Opening loop, final version. (v14)

opening_v14

Version 13

opening_v7 copy.gif

Version 7.2

I like to think that little visual details make a big difference in the final product. So it’s fine if I spend a little more of time doing some variations and taking care of my stuff, even I do that in my time off. Literally, I can’t sleep if I haven’t solved an issue with a graphic… I know, I have a problem hahaha.

 

 

________
Did you like #infofails?
Have a look to other #infofails Chapters here:

Chapter One
Chapter Two

And Stay tuned for the next chapter 🙂

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Digital works, infofails, 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

#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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