From Film to the
Internet: 35 years of
cartographic animation
Michael Peterson
Geography - University of Nebraska Omaha
Personal Landmarks
1975 - Super 8 Film animation
1986 - Interactive animation with Macintosh
Types of animation
1995 - Interactive and Animated Cartography book
1996 - Movie animations. Animation with sound.
2003-2007 - Flight animations
2011 - Thoughts about interaction and animation
History of Cartographic
Animation
Conjecture about first map
animated map
Maps in stone/paper for most of modern human
existence
Level of
map
interaction/
animation
Time
1980-1990
2500 BC
Ice age of cartography
1939 Cartographic Animation
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Disney
German invasion of Warsaw, Poland
My Personal Journey
1972-1976 University of Wisconsin-River Falls, BA
Film animation with Super 8
1976-1978 Boston University, MA
Programming in Fortran
1978-1981 State University of New York at Buffalo, Ph.D.
More programming in Fortran / Pascal
1981-1982 University of Zürich, Switzerland, Post-Doc
Super 8 - 1975
MacChoro 1985-1991
Macintosh program for Choropleth mapping
Purchased 512KB, “Big Mac” in 1985 for $2,500
Ported a choropleth mapping program from a DEC VAX
computer
Program written in Fortran
Many late hours:
Adapting to event-driven computing
menus and dialogs
1985 Big Mac
512 KB of memory
400 KB floppy-drive
Display
Bit-map (pixels either on or off), no color
342 pixels
512 pixels
How MacChoro worked
Polygon-based map file
Spreadsheet-type data file
Map update done logically by class interval rather than
alphabetically
16 shadings, up to 16 classes
Six different methods of data classification - Equal
Interval, Quantile, Standard Deviation, Natural Breaks,
Unclassed*, User-Defined
User Interface
Map Elements
Map, Title, Legend, Neatline, Text1, Text2
User-defined bounding box to define size of each
element
User input with dialogs and mouse
MacChoro Map
Generalization Animation
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Temporal Animation
Classification Animation
Trend Animation
Map Storage/Comparison
Movie Editing Programs
1993 - Adobe Premiere
Frame-based animation
With individual maps created with MacChoro
1995 - Story maps concept
Generalization Animation
Percent of births to mothers under 20 years of age; 2 to 7
classes
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Temporal Animation
Nebraska Growth in Irrigation by County
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Classification Animation
Different methods of data classification
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Spatial Trend
Age of Population by Percent, Omaha, Nebraska, by
census tract
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Interactive and Animated
Cartography
1995 - Prentice-Hall
Story Maps
Universit
y of
Hawaii 1995
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Adobe Premiere
Motown Maps
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Internet Phase - Javascript
1997 --> Mouseover
// TASK: PRELOADING AND
RENAMING IMAGES (SEE THE
EXPLANATION ABOVE){picker_n = new
Image(200,200);picker_n.src =
"picker.gif";red_n = new
Image(200,200);red_n.src =
"red.gif";blue_n = new
Image(200,200);blue_n.src =
"blue.gif";yellow_n = new
Image(200,200);yellow_n.src =
"yellow.gif";
Internet Phase
Interactive animation with Javascript - Mouseover - 1997
Flight Atlas Project
2002-2006
Interest in Frequently Updated Maps (FUMs)
Internet Frequently Updated Maps (IFUMs)
In cooperation with FlyteComm, Inc.
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING
• Background on Flight Tracking
Canada and the USA
Data from the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) is made available
to venture capital companies that
attempt to provide services with this data
FlyteTrax program from FlyteComm
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING
Herndon, Virginia (near Washington D.C.)
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING
Flights by Hour over US & Canada
Number of Flights
6000
5000
4000
Series 1
3000
2000
1000
0
1
3
5
7
9
11
13
15
17
Time of Day
Average: 3415;
High: 5300;
Low: 800
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21
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ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING
ASDI (Aircraft Situation Display to Industry)
 Data made public in 1995
 Flight Movement Messages transmitted from the aircraft
every minute near airports; every 4 minutes in mid-flight
 Since 1998, due to security, transmission of data is delayed
by 5-10 minutes
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING
 FlightTrax 2002
- Windows-based program for displaying the geographic location of
aircraft
- Program connects to the FlyteComm server through the Internet and
receives the current database of air traffic activity
- Updates locations every minute
Adobe Photoshop
- FlyteTrax receives a radar position report on each aircraft once every 4
minutes when the are in the ARTCC airspace
- Most minute-by-minute positions based on dead reckoning using the last
radar position report, the established ground speed at that position report,
and the direction established by the prior two position reports
ANIMATED ATLAS
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
AIR TRAFFIC ANIMATION
1500 MB
FlyteTrax 2002
Displays current flight traffic by minute
CaptureEze Pro
+ Script
Collection of single pics (1440 min/day)
Adobe Photoshop
+ batch script
Automatic enhancement of pictures
Adobe Premiere
+ batch script
Construction of an analog clock
Virtual Dub
7 MB – 15 MB
DivX compression
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
Adobe Photoshop
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Time
Number of flights
40
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
Adobe Photoshop
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ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
Adobe Photoshop
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ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
Adobe Photoshop
United Airlines night traffic from west to east
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ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
Adobe Photoshop
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Bombardier CR-J
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ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
Adobe Photoshop
JFK New Yorkxt
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ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
Adobe Photoshop
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
Adobe Photoshop
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
FLIGHT TRACKING PATTERNS
 Other Patterns
- Non-hub airline - Southwest Airlines - direct city-to-city
- Boeing 737
- All night Los Angeles
- The effect of zooming on speed (New York) Adobe Photoshop
- Concorde Supersonic
- All flights
- Fedex - overnight package delivery
Southwest Airlines
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Boeing 737
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All Night LA
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Speed increases with zoom
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Concorde lands in New York
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All Flights
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Fedex
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ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
AIR TRAFFIC ANIMATION
Adobe Photoshop
ANIMATED ATLAS
Air Traffic over North America
Überblick
PUBLICATION
Adobe Photoshop
Peterson, M. & Wendel, J. (2006) Animated Atlas: Air
Traffic over North America. Omaha: Cartography and
GIS Laboratory.
Final comments
Animation is an important technique in our use and
understanding of spatial data. Cartographic animation
demonstrates that individual maps are only a snap-shot in time.
One should ask: What was before? What will come after? What
trends would be evident if the time element could be viewed as
an animation? The individual map is a snap-shot not only in time
but also in terms of the data. What non-temporal trends would be
evident if a map were viewed along with other related data sets
(e.g., age distribution in a city)? Finally, the individual map is a
snap-shot in the choice of the representational forms that were
used to depict the world. The use of different symbols or data
classifications can also constitute an animation.
Interactive and Animated Cartography (1995)
The Problem
Cartographic animation is not widely used. Why?
Top Five Problems
1. File size
Distribution dependent on the Internet
Internet users are impatient.
Animation files take too long to download.
Compressed video formats (youtube) are
unacceptable for maps.
Top Five Problems
2. Animations are hard to make
Essentially consist of many maps, requiring multiple
data sets
May require different levels of generalization
GIS programs either don’t incorporate animation or
have poor implementations
Top Five Problems
3. No monetary incentive
Why make many maps when most people are satisfied
with one
Top Five Problems
4. File format
No standard file format for cartographic animation
Will the file be readable by different computers?
Will the file be readable in the future?
Top Five Problems
5. Animation is by definition a non-interactive experience
With an interactive map, you can always change
something
With paper map, you can always look around the map
With animation, you look at a very small area of the
screen
With animation, you just sit and watch - and this is
boring
The Future of Animation
1. 3-D movie technology will transfer to computers
3-D map animations
2. Faster Internet capable of transmitting larger files
3. Better software to make animations
4. More interactive playback/creation
5. People may eventually expect that maps be animated
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Cartographic Animations - Cartography and Geographic Information