Digital works

My fav little details of 2021 on Reuters

That time of year has come once again, the best of the year in my opinion. All us is doing the list of the best of the year to give a glimpse of what 2021 was like and, of course, to give a final push to their stories as well. So, like last year, I want to do a quick rundown of my favourite details of the 2021 projects. Keep in mind the pieces in this entry are out of context and you may want to take a look into the full story for better understanding.


January: The amazing Amazon rainforest

The 2021 kicked off strongly, during the first month of the year I worked various projects including some breaking news. My favourite details of January was a small graphic part of the project titled “Jungle Lab”. The graphic itself isn’t a super complex visualisation, actually it’s just a simple illustration, but the message behind it is very powerful. It makes you realise the relevance of the virgin rainforest right away. I truly believe that our work on infographics is not about fancy effects but powerful messages to our readers.

January highlight [ link HERE ]

OTHER JANUARY PROJECTS

As I said before, January was a busy month. Here are some other details that I also enjoyed working on, mostly breaking news.

You may remember the story of miners who were trapped in a mine after an explosion in Northeast China [link here]. There’s a small graphic showing dimensions of the rescue shafts dug by rescuers, that’s something really difficult to imagine without a familiar reference.

Aside from the miners, you may also remember the tragic accident of the Indonesian flight SJ182 [link here]. I recon working with those bathymetric maps helped to explain why recovering the black boxes was a difficult operation. Also kind of shocking to see a few incidents of airplanes around the same area.


February: Sand.

After a tight January, news continued to pop up everywhere, lots of stories with great potential for a visual project. I have the opportunity to do some experimentation with 3D assets using amazing high resolution images courtesy of Planet Labs. We created a detailed story of the massive landslide in India [link here]. Here’s also a short recording of the piece running in C4D: [Drive video].

However, a much larger project was published in February. For a long time we worked on a series of projects on a topic that impressed me. To be honest, I never thought about it before: Sand mining.

Sand mining and trade is a whole world itself, this commodity is unnoticed present in our daily lives. It have a dark side of illegal trafficking and mafias too and even it have sparked diplomatic issues for some countries.

But one key thing that came to mind when I started working on this was this: Why we don’t use desert sand to feed our huge demand? There’s plenty of it!

Well… the explanation is a little more complex, but in short, desert sand grains are too small and rounded. That is why we are dredging rivers, digging abysses in mountains and making beaches disappear.

February highlight [ link HERE ]


March: Rain.

2021 broke some records with extreme weather events, in fact I did an entry here about a 2021 failed project on floods. You probably remember the floods in Germany and China, but there were many more events like that throughout the year.

In March, eastern Australia suffered what the Australian government called the worst flooding in 60 years. That week I was working in a daily-graphics shift, so I did a quick small map to visualise the event, here’s a small part of the graphic:

Also in March, I did a small collaboration on the nice project “Bats and the Origin of Outbreaks”. I really enjoyed working on that piece in every aspect, from the story angle to the opportunity to work with a custom style. You may also want to take a look at that piece:


April: Volcanoes awakening.

April surprised us with a breaking news story, the Le Soufriere volcano violently covered St. Vicent island in ash, devastating the island infrastructure and prompting a sea and land evacuation of thousands of residents. It also released emissions at spectacular heights into the atmosphere. It was like the omen of a year full of massive volcanic eruptions around the world.

I collaborated in the story with different pieces, but my favourite piece was Simon’s map showing buildings, shelters and risk areas among others. Here is a small detail of that map:

April highlight [ link HERE ]


May: Space!

One other frequent topic on my daily work this year was space exploration. I did a good amount of small pieces on telescopes, comets, asteroids and spacecraft.

May saw the landing of the Martian explorer ‘Tianwen-1’ develop and successfully landed in the red planet by the Chinese. Here is a little detail of that graphic:


June: Olympics.

My favourite from June was the singular Olympic sports story. Can’t imagine the adrenaline rush of a 200m obstacle swimming competition. Jumping over boats and diving again to be the fastest hurdle swimmer of all times, they sure had a lot of fun there.

Here’s a small diagram of the course of the Paris games of the year 1900:

June highlight [ link HERE ]


July: Space! (again)

By mid year the news put me back thinking in the outer space. The Hubble Telescope was literally an eye-opening for the scientific community and for all of us in general. Even more so if you stop to think that this magnificent achievement of science was designed with technology from the 80’s. I can’t believe how the old computer from the 80’s still worked there. Here’s a small detail from a daily basis graphic that explains where the telescope problem was. ( The 80’s computer SIC&DH )

This 2021, I spent a little more time making small single-day graphics. I enjoyed the small break from big projects, and the quick and intensive research part you have to do to get it done in a single day. However, I think the best part was going back to the long-medium term projects that were almost done to finish them, with my mind clear and fresh.


August: Wildfires & aircraft data

August was a very busy month too. One of my favourite pieces was this sad new record: For the first time in the records, smoke from the fires reached the north pole. Check out the graphics thread below. There’s a third graphic in that thread, click on it if you want to see some temperature records too:

The second part of the month was infused with the chaos surrounding the US departure from Afghanistan. We did a few pieces on this, overall my favourite was the spaghetti drawn by the aircraft around the airport. It’s really cool how when you are digging into the data many stories pop up, and often many questions more.

August highlight [ link HERE ]


September: Ice.

Like what happened to me this year with the sand, there are things that you never expect to be so interesting. Ice is more than frozen water, ice cores are cool stuff. These things can help to retrieve ancient records, they are like windows to the past of our planet. On September we published this story about that.

The sad part is that we are loosing those records due global warming, and it’s not slowly loosing them, it happens at freaking vertiginous fast speed. The graphic above shows the average of how much ice melts in the world EVERY DAY! The amount is equivalent of placing a gigantic 273m-high ice cube in NY’s Central Park.

September highlight [ link HERE ]


October: Rainforest.

The forests stories returned in October. This project took many days of 3D scene testing, hundreds of calculations to put thousands upon thousands of trees in place, modelling objects and illuminating leaves to show how quickly we are removing the things that are keeping us alive. We are nuts isn’t?

Not just ice, but we are also losing trees on an incredible rate. On average, 67,000sqm of rainforest is lost EVERY MINUTE. The following video begins at ground level, right in front of 3 people and a logging tractor, all to scale. In order to see the portion of the forest that we lose, you see people and tractors as ants.

There were also other quick projects on this month, one of them was the story of the Chinese incursions on the Taiwanese ADIZ. Since then, many more events had happened and tensions only continued to escalate between both sides. Thinking about the region that has been my home for so many years, I hope this doesn’t go any further. Unfortunately, there are always chances that this will get out of control.

October highlight [ link HERE ]


November: Pollution.

India is a very particular place. During the last months of each year, northern cities are suffocated by pollution trapped at the foot of the Himalayas. There are many reasons behind this such as seasonal crop fires, fireworks celebrations, and many others. However, southern cities avoid polluted skies. That was the subject of a one-day quick map, here’s a detail of it:


December: spin, spin and throw it.

Back to outer space news! …or kind of.

Near the end of last month (Nov.) I was working in one more of those small pieces for the daily basis. This time my mind blowed up with this idea of launching things into space without rockets.

The idea is to spin a projectile in a vacuum chamber, gain momentum, and propel it into orbit around the Earth. I imagine something like throwing a hammer at the Olympics, but on an enormous scale. Here is a small detail of the graphic in mention:


My 2021 list of graphics

Just a few days more of the 2021 are left, so many stories have crossed under my Wacom and keyboard, it was a great year. Hope you enjoyed this sneak pick of all the stuff I worked on over the year. I hope you also considered visiting the stories mentioned, just hit the link at the end of each month’s entry to get a better context of each of the details highlighted here.

2021 was a great year, I’m very grateful to Reuters for all the good things, also to my teammates, for everything we did together and how much I learned. There is no better way to say goodbye to this year.

Animation by @Kirun via Giphy


See you all in 2022, Merry Christmas!

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blogging, Digital works

2020 in graphics: My favourite little details

That time of year is back, most infographic teams look back, making lists of work that left the year and highlighting their best stories.

I decided to make my own list of favourite details in the projects that I work on throughout 2020. But, before jumping in, keep in mind these are my opinions on small details out of context. Those little bricks are part of a bigger story.


January

I spent the first month of 2020 covering the Australian bushfires and little stories of a “new mystery virus”. If I need to pick just one single detail of those projects from January I’ll say the opening map of the story entitled Assessing Australia’s “ecological disaster”.

This map shows the habitats of 1,400 species in Australia.

The map is superposition of the habitats species in Australia, follow by the areas burned by wildfires in 2019. I like this little details because at the end of the animation you can see how all the habitats blends and some white areas a left in the map as well, turning this map into a map of Australian wildlife diversity and the fires threatening the animals’ territories.

January highlight link HERE.


February

We knew very little about the virus back in February, not many people was worried about it and the major threat may was the people returning home from “ground zero”. Countries started to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan and later on from China. My favourite detail was this simple diagram I work on about each country evacuees known at the moment.

565 Japanese were evacuated from China on early February.

Among the Japanese evacuees, them 7 tested positive while in quarantine. I guess uncertain is the worst feeling while you are isolated with other people who could be positive, especially if you are “locked in” with a lot of people. This little diagram transmits a bit more than just a visualisation of “how many of them”…

February highlight link HERE.


March

No surprise: A little more about COVID-19 stories in March.

Anyway one of the most choking stories happened in South Korea. The “michin ajumma” was all over the news in Asia because the incredible level of negligence of this woman. South Koreans called this woman “michin ajumma” or “crazy auntie” in english becase she was a virus super-spreader including records of contacts for more than one thousand people while she was sick.

Diagram of the Korean patient #31.

I like this diagram because allow you to see how this person went in and out from hospital for different reasons, including the need to attend a buffet in a hotel.

March highlight link HERE.


April

Some stories take more time than other to hatch, we need to take our time to conceptualise, produce, corroborate, edit, polish, promote… But among all the stories of the year, none took more time than “How coronavirus hitched a ride through China“. This crazy COVID ride across the vast lands of China reveal series of mind-blowing little stories to explain how the first cases of the virus arrived to each province of China.

My favourite little story, because the implications of the travel, is this 3,600km train-trip that Mr. Zhang did from Wuhan to Lhasa. Can you imagine be in a train for 3 days traveling sick and sharing a small place with many other people around? I guess no one knew anything about risk back then. This little story in itself could be a Hollywood movie.

April highlight link HERE.


May

Some events in our blue marble are big enough to be seen from space.

My favourite detail in May was one of the images we spotted with the Sentinel satellite. The image shows a bunch of cruise ships anchored in the Philippines with no guest but hundreds of crew still on board, trapped without a job guarantee; just waiting in limbo of the world’s largest cruise parking lot.

May highlight link HERE.


June

By mid year I turned my attention to other problems occurring in South America.

Illegal mining that tears down vast tracts of the Amazon rainforest threatens indigenous peoples and their way of life. Even illegal miners themselves endanger themselves by inhaling highly toxic waste from using mercury, even handling it with their bare hands.

My favourite details are those little illustration blocks explaining part of the problems. Staggering satellite images are proof of the magnitude of the problem in the region.

June highlight link HERE.


July

Have you ever see an ant farm as a kid? It was amazing isn’t? you can imagine what’s going on in the little world down there, all that crazy movement and structures rising trough the time.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about you may need to see this piece we did in August about the mining sites of Rio Tinto in Australia.

Mining Australia’s sacred sites” was a very serious topic actually. Some fo the destroyed areas have heritage history of over 20,000 years. The state-approved destruction carried out by the mining company sparked anger from indigenous landowners.

In this case, satellites were useful to provide evidence of the expansion of the mines. My favourite detail is the timelapse of Brockman 4 mine, because it looks just like an ant farm.

Satellite image timelapse: Sentinel 2, European Space Agency.

July highlight link HERE.


August

Many many things happened in August, we covered some breaking stories like Beirut’s explosion, and the Japanese bulk carrier Wakashio which got struck a coral reef on the paradisiac island of Mauritius. But my favourite among all of them is a completely different story.

August marked the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki A-bombs. We took the opportunity to create a visual explainer of what happened in a document style adapted to the time. You may notice the special typography and a particular style on the maps too. But the best thing about this project was the Japanese version that was published shortly after.

You can compare the English version here with the Japanese version here, you will noticed that some of the pieces are different too, so, isn’t exactly the same experience.


September

The ninth month of the year was all about wildfires again. Just like we kicked off the year, but this time the flames were consuming the North American forest. We did some different pieces, but one of the most popular was the smoke story.

The globe animation at the top of the page was very popular on Twitter, for some reason that kind of visual is always popular… But among all the pieces, my favourites are the small multiples further down the page.

Those images frozen in time are some of the most relevant moments of the smoke dimensions. Something that you maybe miss in the animation if you don’t pay attention enough.

September highlight link HERE.


October

For a long time I wanted to do some graphic on wine, something about varieties, process, climate or so… But, I never tough that the chance will come because the vineyards were on fire.

Up in smoke” is a story to visualise the damage caused by the fires in one of the most iconic wine regions of the world. Using some maps, dataviz, images and illustrations we tried to show what was going on there.

Doing research is a normal thing in all of our projects. But I guess because I really like wine, my favourite part of this project was the research phase. Reading so many articles, collecting so much data from everywhere, learn a lot to be able to explain later… and all that was about wine!

Yup, it was a nice experience, sad yes, but I learned a lot.

September highlight link HERE.


November

I really like to find the “woow” trigger in the stories. The “woow” happens when you give a little of context and show a visual of something that the reader wasn’t expecting, or even you in first instance.

In last November we were working in this story about the glaciers in the Tibet region. The page shows impressive drone images and how the glaciers are retreating rapidly, but my favourite part of this is to realise how much changes the region over a year. The original loop show a whole year of transition, below are shown just the extremes:

Landsat-8 satellite. Oct. 2020 vs Dec. 2019

November highlight link HERE.


December

What a year!
By December I was calculating which one of the projects I have the queue will see the light before the end of the year.

The monster-sized A68a iceberg that has been wandering in the ocean since 2017 made headlines when it began approaching an island full of penguins and other species. By then I already had some data sets in my “sources folder”. So in record time, we finished what turned out to be my favourite story of the month.

I knew the iceberg was huge, but one of the things that was spinning in my head was how much?
Probably bigger than many islands or even countries!

That’s why size comparisons are my favourites in this story, it’s not just about saying it’s massive, but about demonstrating it by showing evidence and references.

December highlight link HERE.


My 2020 list of graphics

Just a few days more of this crazy year are left, so many extreme stories have happened. This list is actually just a sneak pick of all the stuff we did over the year.

As I said at the beginning of this post, the little details in this list were pulled from the original context, I really encourage you to visit the full stories in the link at the end of each month’s entry to get a better understanding of the information.

See you all in 2021, Merry Christmas!

(Gif animated by @Kirun via Giphy)

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