Whale Fall (after life of a whale) Chris McDowall Oct 15

I find this video both informative and astonishingly beautiful. The film-maker uses paper cutout puppets to describe what happens to a whale’s carcass after the creature dies. Music provided by the excellent Rachel’s. Enjoy in full-screen with a cup of coffee.

Plotting geographic data on a world map with Python Chris McDowall Aug 12

Last week I promised to write a blog post detailing how I created this public transport animation. On reflection, it’s a topic best dealt with over a few sessions. Let’s start simple. How might you plot lots of geographic data on a map? In this post I will show you how to programmatically create a [...]

Animating Auckland’s public transport network – Take Two Chris McDowall Aug 04

In late January I created an animation of Auckland’s public transport network with data from the MAXX Auckland transport Google transit feed. As I noted in the post, there were several issues with the video. I carved out a little time this week to revise the animation and I am happy with the progress. The [...]

Asteroid 2011 MD passes through the Earth’s GPS satellite network Chris McDowall Jun 27

Tomorrow the ten metre wide Asteroid 2011 MD will pass within 12,000 km of Earth. How close is that? Well, it’s close enough that it will travel through the network of GPS satellites that circle the Earth. Pasquale Tricarico, a Research Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, has created a series of [...]

How do you Visualise a Conversation? Chris McDowall Jun 24

Over the next couple of days I am helping run an online event called Magnetic South – an online game about the long term future of Christchurch. It is part of Christchurch City Council’s Share an Idea suite of initiatives and will input to the development of the Central City Plan. The game is being [...]

How do you explain a city? Chris McDowall Jun 04

“To tell you about Penthesilea I should begin by describing the entrance to the city. You, no doubt, imagine seeing a girdle of walls rising from the dusty plain as you slowly approach the gate, guarded by customs men who are already casting oblique glances at your bundles. Until you have reached it you are [...]

Visualising the New Zealand Budget 2011 with Treemaps Chris McDowall May 20

It is really difficult to grasp the significance of lots of big numbers. It is even trickier when the numbers are organised in a hierarchy. For example, yesterday afternoon Bill English, the Minister of Finance, delivered his third budget, outlining the nation’s revenues and expenses. The budget includes details such as how the government plans [...]

Ring of Fire – Animated Map of World Earthquakes (Jan 1 – Mar 12, 2011 GMT) Chris McDowall Mar 13

This video was made very quickly and could use some work. I post it here in case you find it interesting. I suggest you watch it full-screen, in high definition with scaling off. The animation depicts two and half months of 2011 USGS earthquake data. Blue circles represent deep seismic activity recordings (>= 40km deep). [...]

New York subway system as a stringed instrument Chris McDowall Feb 03

A short post to draw your attention to some lovely work by Alexander Chen. Conductor: pulls subway schedule data from New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority and transforms it into dynamic musical animation. The end result is wonderful. Thanks to commenter Kate for sending me the link. Here’s Chen’s description of the work: “The [...]

An animated map of Auckland’s public transport network Chris McDowall Jan 20

I grew up in Auckland and spent many years using the city’s public transport system to get from place to place. While sitting on a bus, I sometimes wondered what the transportation network would look like if we could see the movements of the individual vehicles from the air. I would try to visualise the [...]

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