Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Visualizing Motion

Static and Dynamic Motion Viz: Timelines offer an excellent way to visualise motion of people or vehicles. I've discussed timelines in GEarth with a video illustration previously. Recently I've been hanging out at the GIS Stack forum which IMHO is an excellent resource. A recent question was on visualizing motion statically: what were the best techniques? What software could you use? I've pitched in with an answer along with some other contributors.

Static vs Dynamic: What doesn't come out in the discussion is would you choose a static option over the dynamic one if you had a choice? I think for the expert map reader (I'm thinking of a biologist tracking animal movement as an example) a static map has a number of advantages, it can be scanned quickly to find the point/time you are interested in and values of velocity are easy to read off. By comparison, an animation must be played to get to the point you want to view. As it can be printed it's also very portable.

For the bloke on the street, I think the dynamic version has most advantages: understanding the static version requires interpretation, the animation is instantly recognisable. Also, animations instantly attract the attention which is important for the public but not necessary for the expert.

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