Monday, January 9, 2017

Three Geo-Animations for Atlas Tours (Google Earth Tours, Esri Story Maps)

Just less than a year ago I published a post about 3 types of Atlas tour (1).   I've been thinking about the topic over the last year as I've been writing papers so I thought I should develop that post with some more detail.  I discussed this in my recent Google Education talk.

Just as you can have different types of PowerPoint (fieldwork briefing, photo slide show, talk etc. etc.) you can have different types of Atlas Tour.  Esri Story Maps (ESM) have identified a number of different types which emphacise text narrative, I believe most Atlas Tours should be narrated using audio, so I'm not going to discuss those.  My sorting works on two axes:

  • 3D or 2D:  ATs can be used to discuss both landscape (3D) or map views (2D).  
  • Realistic base map vs Symbolized:  showing realistic imagery works well when illustrating landscape but symbolising is endlessly useful in paring down a map to simlyfy it to the elements needed (e.g. temperature and wind but nothing else bottom right below)  
which produces 4 groups.  These are illustrated in an image grid below (2):

I give examples of the four groups in this videod section of my Google Education talk recently.

Within an Atlas Tour, you can have different types of animation that are highly suited to the format, I've identified 3 which I think are particularly useful and to illustrate them I've prepared a story board of an Atlas tour discussing the famous Snow cholera map:

1] Map Sequence:  using annotations or revealing layers (build animation) of a map one by one in order to explain a complex map.  The sequence above illustrates the build animation with street names added and then the pump.  It becomes much more important on complex maps.

Click to expand.  The audio narrative script is found under each image.

2] Time Animation:  Showing a sequence of maps to show change due to time.  This is well discussed in the cartographic literature.  Note that I've invented data, the spread was actually not recorded.
Click to expand

Avatar animation:  flying down from a symbolised map view into a 'human' view.  This is an original idea of mine and IMHO is very powerful, you can illustrate spatial relationships and then follow up with showing what they look like in real life.  In this case, on the street.

Click to expand

these aren't the only animations you can use and you can certainly usefully link out to static imagery and non-map video from within a Atlas Tour.  However, they are all very spatial and so worth highlighting above other formats in an Atlas Tour.

1] at the time I called them Google Earth Tours but to include people interested in using Esri Story Maps I now use Atlas tours as an encompassing term.