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Geog 353 Lab 9: Cartographic Animation
Update: 11/30/16
50 points
ASSIGNED: Wednesday November 8
DUE: Wednesday November 29

Lab 9 Goal: In Lab 8 you exported scads of maps and associated legends from ArcGIS, and converted them to GIF files. You paid careful attention to the final size and graphic quality of the maps. The next step is to animate your maps, using some web-based GIF animation sites and Arc2Earth to create KMZ animations for Google Earth, and one other method of presenting your maps & data (which you figure out on your own).


First, a bit of background on map animation...

"In the motion picture lies a highly essential but much neglected field for pictorial statistics. Newsreels, war films and such features as "The March of Time," McCrary's "Ringside Seat" or "Kaltenborn Edits the News" occasionally incorporate maps, but usually they are either globes or maps clipped from newspapers and similar sources. But the screen offers the best imaginable opportunities for "dynamic" visual information. On the screen arrows can really move as opposing armies advance or retreat, statistical columns can grow or shrink, frontiers can be violated and empires can literally "crumble." The effect created by such "living" maps and graphs can be further heightened by an effective accompaniment of words or music. One could both see and hear a "frontier" "break down," the tramping "men" in the statistical column "join the army," "the whistling ships" slide down the ways and the like. Why not include such a map feature, dynamically illustrating current war events, in the newsreels? Why not visualize the growth of line-lease aid, the progress of the war-bonds campaign, in pictorial statistics that move? Why not portray Germany's exploitation of the occupied countries by maps on which the confiscated goods actually march into the Reich? Or depict the effect of air raids, swarms of planes (in symbols) dropping bombs across a map of strategic and key industrial points? Why not dramatize the unrest in Nazi-occupied Europe by flashing on a map those places where hostages have been executed, troop trains have been derailed, underground papers have been secretly edited and printed. These few suggestions indicate how great can be the improvement in the techniques and therefore the effectiveness of visual means for conveying information about the war. (Heinz Soffner. "War on the Visual Front." The American Scholar 11:4, 1942. pp. 465-476. Quote from page 476-77)

This multimedia extravaganza envisioned by Soffner in 1942 was suggested by the need for war-time propaganda. What is interesting is that there is a clear sense that adding a dynamic component to maps will "enliven" them and make them more effective.

Animation can be defined as "...a dynamic visual statement that evolves through movement or change in the display. The most important aspect of animation is that it depicts something that would not be evident if the frames were viewed individually. In a sense, what happens between each frame is more important than what exists on each frame."

Animation works because the eye-brain mechanism retains, for a fleeting instant, images of objects it has seen after the objects have been removed. If the eye is shown a series of static views of objects at a rapid rate (30 per second) with the objects changing positions only slightly from frame to frame, the illusion of life like motion - animation - is created in the mind.

A Short History of Animation

1. GIF Animations: Animation for the People or Scourge of the Internet?

GIF is a common graphic file format, and are one of the primary graphic file formats used on the WWW (along with JPG). One interesting characteristic of GIF files is that they can have layers and thus you can put multiple GIF files into a single GIF file (one file on each layer).

When a GIF file with layers is viewed on the WWW it flips through the layers one by one: thus you can use GIF files to easily create animated graphics for the WWW. You have seen annoying animated advertising banners, mail-box icons with the mail-box door opening and closing, spinning globes, etc. throughout your lives. All of these amazing and dazzling and often annoying animated graphics are created using GIF files.

Stare at the animations (above) for a moment, then ponder the annoyance factor when experimenting with GIF animation for your project.

The hug advantage (huge too!) of GIF animation is that no special browser plug-ins are needed to view the animations (even the oldest computers with out of date browsers can show them quickly) and they are easy to create with free or low-cost software. Using software (like GIF Animator) you can set the order of the files, set transitions, effects, delays, etc. You can also copy existing animated GIF files off the WWW, and, in many cases open them in GIF Animator and modify them (eg., make the earth spin the wrong way - ra-da-cul!).

Each of you will create at least four GIF animations:

Creating Animated GIFs!

There are many ways to create animated GIFs. Previous to this semester, I have been using Ulead's GIF Animator software, but it was discontinued and our old version no longer works on the current Windows OS. Let's instead try a few online (free) GIF animators.

Searchie around on the internets and see what you can find. There are many other sites out there for creating animated gifs.

I would like you to create a test GIF animation at each of the four sites above. Use your animated choropleth map files (population change). Evaluate the functionality of each site to create an animated GIF of your maps that is appropriate for your web pages.

For example, you will want to have control over teh following:

Please figure out how to use each site (pretty easy) and document capabilities of each in comparison to the other sites. Include this information in your Blab Plog posting about this lab. I believe I will include a question about comparing these sites on the final take home exam!

Choose one of the sites you think is the best for your project, and use it to create your animated GIFs.

An alternative is to use the GIMP software on the lab computers. Google how to create animated GIF files with GIMP (PC).

Finally, go back to your HTML files, open and add the animated GIFs!

2. Arc2Earth: Generating Animated KMZ Maps for Google Earth

The Arc2Earth software is ONLY on the instructor computer in the front of the room: Please watch your time on the instructor's computer, as everyone needs to use it to complete the KMZ exports.

Please don't expect to be using Arc2Earth in class on the day we present our final projects. Dopey pins have done this in past semesters!

Arc2Earth is a plug-in for ArcMap that allows you to export map layers as KML or KMZ files (KMZ is a compressed KML file; both work the same). KMZ files can include temporal data, and if done right, will produce animations. We will create two KMZ animations: one your classified choropleth map, and the other the gains/losses map (noted above).

Each of you will create two KMZ animations for Google Earth:

2a) Open your .mxd file that contains your two choropleth maps.

Weird File Mayhem in ArcGIS: You may have noticed that ArcGIS is complicated when it comes to the files that comprise any ArcGIS project. There is your project file, .mxd, but also a series of files for single shape file you use in your project. These files typically are: .dbf, .prj, .sbn, .sbx, .shp, .shp.xml, and .shx. If any of these files are not present, the layer in your project may not work properly or display. Look up each of these file types (ArcMap help) and indicate, in your lab blog, what they are.

2b) You have to move your files to the Instructor computer in the front of the room to use Arc2Earth. You can either:

Hint: Some illustrations from the original tutorial related to this part of the project are here at the Making Maps book blog.

2c) The Arc2Earth menu should be visible in ArcMap. If not, from the Customize menu then Toolbars select Arc2Earth (the first one listed). Open one of your .mxd files.

2d) From the Export menu of Arc2Earth select KML/KMZ then KMZ...

2e) Add time information to the layers:

2f) Hit Export and you should see a window indicating progress of the export. It should say Export completed successfully if all went well.

2g) Close out of Arc2Earth and minimize ArcMap.

2h) Navigate to the Export Location where you saved your Arc2Earth file in part 2d above. You should see a folder with the name you entered in part 2d, something like wisconsinGE_files. Open that folder, and double click on the KMZ file. This should open good old Google Earth.

Hint: Arc2Earth has other features that could add some interesting functionality to your animated maps for Google Earth. Go back to Arc2Earth and Export all layers and hit the Load... button to reload your options. Try some different options and re-export.

2i) When all is working, export your second choropleth map (gains/losses) in the same way. Check that the animation is ok. Turn off the first KMZ file before you open the second in Google Earth. Then email your two KMZ files to yourself.

You will finish this lab with:

You now have all the pieces to complete your project: spiff up all your pages, focus on enhancing the usability of your pages, and ponder the presentation of your work during the last week of classes.

E-mail: Geog 353 Main Page and Course Description krygier teaching page. krygier top page.

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