Simple explanatory animations

Animation storyboard

In addition to charts, maps, infographics and online data visualization, one of the subjects we discuss in our Infographics and Data Visualization workshop (check out the new online version of the workshop) is simple explanatory animations. Short videos are highly effective, ideal for any device size and easy to share in social media.

During the workshop we look at outstanding examples and discuss the whole process. It starts with writing a concise and effective script, perhaps the most important part of a successful animation. We show how we create storyboards, voiceovers, music and effects, and the importance of hitting the right pace, tone and visual style for your purpose and audience.

The process is not as intimidating as someone looking at starting with animations may think. With simple vector-style art created in Illustrator and using animation software such as After Effects, it’s a simple process.

Many organizations ask us to explain relatively complex topics internally or to the public in short explanatory videos. Here are a few examples of animations we have done recently for the World Bank Group (about disaster risk management and hydrometeorological systems) and for the Pew Charitable Trusts (about new systems to manage fisheries).

Our new virtual workshop

For some time we had been planning on adding a virtual option to our most popular workshop, the 2-day Infographics and Data Visualization event. We had multiple requests for it over time. After more than 30 in-person workshops in Europe, Asia, and the U.S., the coronavirus pandemic has given us the final push to organize an online event.

The new 5W Academy workshop will take place via Zoom. It will be split into four 3-hour-long live sessions, on June 18, 19, 25 and 25 (Thursday and Friday over two weeks). The schedule is from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm, U.S. Eastern Time (9:30 am to 12:30 pm Pacific) to accommodate participants in all U.S. time zones. Participants can join us join from PC, Mac or mobile devices.

This workshop is a comprehensive overview of infographics and data visualization, and tries to mimic the combination of lectures and practical exercises that we use in the in-person workshops, with great feedback from participants so far. Our two instructors have over 50 years of combined experience in the field, and over 100 international awards. We’ll discuss the role of infographics in visual storytelling and guide you to create your own, in print and online. Attendees will do practical sketching exercises for infographics, charts, diagrams, maps and animation storyboards, and create interactive data visualizations with the help of Tableau Public, Flourish and Datawrapper. We’ll see the process behind the creation of infographics and learn about gathering and preparing data, using hierarchy, color, typography, illustration, and narrative to create effective and impactful visual presentations.

The class will offer an overview of essential tools and strategies for creating engaging infographics and data visualization. Multiple award-winning projects will be explained.

This comprehensive workshop is a very practical guide for working designers, entrepreneurs, journalists, educators, and professionals who are interested in developing the skills to create print and interactive information graphics. It combine lectures and practical exercises.

You can take a look at the workshop’s detailed schedule and additional information here. And don’t hesitate to contact us at academy@5w-consulting.com.

We are looking forward to do more in-person workshops as soon as it’s safe and feasible. Here are some photos of the most recent international workshops we had in Singapore, New Delhi (India) and Beijing (China) for different media and finance clients.

Singapore workshop for DBS Bank (organized by Methodology)
New Delhi workshop for India Today, organized by WAN-IFRA
Beijing workshop for CCTV.com, organized by MediaX

Infovis conference and workshops in Mexico City

I’ll be in Mexico City next November 8 and 9 to give a talk and a one-day workshop in the second edition of the Infovis International Summit of Visual Communication. This event started last year with a star roster of speakers (Alberto Cairo, Fernando Baptista, Jaime Serra and Alberto Lucas, among others) and was very well received. It’s a venue to show the methods of some of the most relevant professionals in infographics, data visualization, interactive graphics and information architecture. The event is organized by Juan Carlos Ramírez and supported/hosted by UAM (Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana) in Cuajimalpa, Mexico City.

This year the invited speakers are Erika Espinosa of Deftly Creative, Lazaro Gamio from Axios, Angel García from Nuestro Diario (Guatemala), Antonio Farach from the Times of Oman, Lauren Tierney from The Washington Post, and myself. There will also be different one-day workshops taught by Angel García, Lazaro Gamio and myself. You can register in this page (prices are in Mexican pesos).

If you follow Infovis in Twitter (@INFOVIS_), it’s a great source for news on infographics and data visualization.

New tools: Data Illustrator and Charticulator

Anyone interested in creating their own data visualizations should be giddy with delight with the quickly growing number of tools available to create them without any need for programming skills, and in most cases for free: Tableau, Flourish, Datawrapper, RawGraphs, Chartbuilder or QGIS (for mapping) are some of the best, and the list goes on and on. I’m convinced in a relatively short time drag and drop tools with be as powerful and flexible as D3.js and other developer tools, making data visualization accesible to everyone.

The exciting news is seeing two software giants entering the field with new web-based tools: Adobe launched Data Illustrator a few months ago in a collaboration with the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Microsoft Research is behind the just released Charticulator. Both work very intuitively, allowing the author to bind multiple attributes of data to graphical elements. They are indeed powered by D3.js, among other libraries.

Both offer introduction videos in their hope pages. Here is Data Illustrator:

And here is Charticulator:

 

The tools offer tutorial sections and multiple step-by-step videos in their galleries; and they link to the research papers describing the tools, which are worth reading (Data Illustrator, Charticulator).

Creating complex visualizations like the chord diagram below seems ridiculously simple in Charticulator, and the same can be said of Data Illustrator’s visualizations. See the video:

This is not a review as I have just started playing with them, but on first look both tools are impressive. It’s still really early in their development, but if Adobe and Microsoft throw their mighty resources to support and improve them, we can expect great things in the near future. Perhaps one day Data Illustrator could be embedded within Adobe Illustrator, allowing designers to work fluidly and easily between D3 and Illustrator without leaving the graphical interface. And Charticulator could integrate into PowerPoint. Stay tuned!

 

 

DC and San Francisco workshops

Workshop_DC_1

5W Academy is heading to San Francisco in a few days for our next Infographics and Data visualization workshop in the US. It will be on May 10-11.

We received great feedback from our Washington D.C. workshop last week. A combination of local and out-of-state participants from government agencies, design and advertising studios, NGOs and other organizations got together for two days (photos above and below).

Workshop_DC_2

The two-day workshop is a comprehensive introduction to the creation of infographics and data visualization. With a mix of theory and practice, the workshop is aimed at professionals and students interested in developing the skills to produce engaging, insightful visual storytelling with their content. No previous experience with infographics or specialized software is required.

We will learn about gathering and preparing data, the Do’s and Don’ts of working with numerical information and charts, and the principles of visual hierarchy, color, typography, illustration, and narrative to create impactful infographics.

Attendees will sketch out infographics, storyboard motion graphics and create / publish their interactive data visualizations and web maps with the help of Tableau Public, Flourish and other tools for non-programmers. The class will discuss award-winning projects and offer an overview of tools and strategies for creating infographics and data visualization.

After San Francisco, our next workshop will be in Singapore, the next edition of our popular Power of Infographics workshop (May 24-25), hosted by our friends at Methodology.

Learn more about the instructors and schedule of our San Francisco workshop in our page or register directly here. See you soon in California!

SF1

New book: Practical Tableau

Anyone interested in data visualization with Tableau should take note of a new book being published this month: Practical Tableau — 100 Tips, Tutorials, and Strategies from a Tableau Zen, by Ryan Sleeper (published by O’Reilly). The book is a comprehensive and useful overview that can be used by complete beginners as well as by people with more advanced skills. Structured as a collection of 100 short “tip” chapters, it has multiple step-by-step tutorials to build a broad variety of chart types and introductions to working with filters, parameters, calculated fields, and other advanced options in Tableau. It also outlines principles of storytelling with data, using color, dashboards, etc. Overall, it’s an eminently practical guide that I can easily recommend (another great Tableau guide is this book by Ben Jones).

During our 5W Academy workshops (next in Washington D.C. and San Francisco), we do a few hands-on exercises with Tableau. It’s a powerful and intuitive drag and drop tool to build data visualizations.

Tableau has some shortcomings: a couple of examples are the less than optimal handling of responsiveness for different screen sizes, or the lack of map projections (although Tableau now works with spatial files such as shapefiles, GeoJSON, KML, etc.). And it’s a closed system. For simple charts/maps and limited datasets many users maybe be better served by using Datawrapper, Flourish or other recent and excellent open-source dataviz tools for non-developers, but Tableau’s robust and comprehensive data analysis capabilities still make it a preferred tool in many organizations. As an example, the United Nations just announced it’s adopting Tableau as their visual analytics standard across its multiples agencies.

Practical Tableau is due to be released this month as a paperback, and the Kindle version is already available.

 

 

Our Power of Infographics workshop, back in Singapore in May

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I’ll be back in Singapore on May 24-25 teaching a new edition of the 2-day workshop “The Power of Infographics” organized by Methodology. Fortunately, the workshop has continued to be in high demand and is nearing the 10th edition since 2015.

Methodology was co-founded by two of the most talented designers in Singapore: Brian Ling of Design Sojourn and Jackson Tan of Black Design and contemporary art collective Phunk. It organizes public and corporate workshops in Singapore and the rest of South East Asia. “We believe that design can make a positive difference to the world and we seek to be custodians of this change by curating and sharing the world’s best creative ideas and design processes. We collaborate with global leaders at the forefront of design, craft and innovation to develop education programs, workshops, conferences and media.”

The workshop is attended by a mix of professionals including designers, marketers, students, and civil servants from different areas of the government. They are looking for an introduction to visual storytelling and the principles, tools and techniques to find visual insight in our content by using infographics, charts, maps and data visualization (both in print and online).

Register here or contact Methodology at admin@methodology.sg for more information.