Information Design Watch

December 2, 2011, 5:20 pm

Electrotyping Animation Now Online

By Henry Woodbury

The Electrotyping Animation we created for the Metropolitan Museum of Art has now been posted online. It is currently the featured video on the Met’s MetMedia page.

Here it is on Information Design Watch:

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Dynamic Diagrams News, Visual Explanation

November 22, 2011, 3:44 pm

Electrotyping Animation at the Met

By Henry Woodbury

Opening today is a new exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Victorian Electrotypes: Old Treasures, New Technology. The show presents a selection from the museum’s archive of electrotypes — Victorian-era copies of European decorative artifacts.

One of the main pieces of the show is the Bryant Vase, designed by Tiffany and Company. The vase itself was copied by electrotyping and the exhibit accompanies the original with its copper molds. Using the Bryant Vase as the main character, Dynamic Diagrams created a short animation explaining how the electrotyping process works.

Brant Vase with electrotyping animation in background

Bryant Vase with electrotyping animation in background

The video starts with slow zoom of a photo of the original vase. We then transition to a 3D model which we animate to show the steps in which a mold is created and immersed in a copper-sulfate bath. A “microscopic” view explains how copper ions transmit in the the bath from a positively charged copper bar to the negatively charged mold. Finally, we show how individual pieces are reassembled into a near-identical copy of the original and plated in silver.

By using 3D modeling software we are able to give exhibition visitors a greater understanding of the technology behind the works they are viewing.

Update: The Museum has posted an exhibition page.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Dynamic Diagrams News, Visual Explanation

September 20, 2011, 10:14 am

Game Theory

By Henry Woodbury

Why would scientific experts call on gamers to solve problems in protein folding? Here’s why:

“People have spatial reasoning skills, something computers are not yet good at,” [Dr. Seth Cooper, of the UW Department of Computing Science and Engineering] said. “Games provide a framework for bringing together the strengths of computers and humans.”

The game goes by the name Foldit and is supported by University of Washington Center for Game Science.

When you first start playing the game takes you through a series of practice examples to get you familiar with the manipulations you can apply to a protein chain.

Foldit Intro Puzzle 3 of 32

If you get hooked, you continue to real problems. Already, game-generated models have helped researchers resolve the structure of previously undefined proteins. Researchers are also looking at some of the unfolding sequences used by Foldit players to develop better algorithms for computer analysis.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Creativity, Scholarly Publishing, Social Media, Technology

July 28, 2011, 12:58 pm

Hello Spatial Humanities, We’ve been Waiting for You

By Henry Woodbury

Patricia Cohen at The New York Times has an interesting article on the “spatial humanities,” the idea of using geographic information systems to reveal the physical context of historical or even fictional events:

“Mapping spatial information reveals part of human history that otherwise we couldn’t possibly know,” said Anne Kelly Knowles, a geographer at Middlebury College in Vermont. “It enables you to see patterns and information that are literally invisible.” It adds layers of information to a map that can be added or taken off at will in various combinations; the same location can also be viewed back and forth over time at the click of a mouse.

The real joy of this feature is the portfolio of projects that accompanies the main overview. Here, for example, is a section from Ms. Knowles’ viewshed analysis of what General Robert E. Lee could actually see in the Battle of Gettysburg:

Fragment of Gettysburg Map created by Anne Kelly Knowles, Will Rousch, Caitrin Abshere and others; and National Archives, Maryland

The pale ovals represent areas that historians have previously assumed to be visible to Lee. In Ms. Knowles analysis, all the light areas of the map could have been visible, depending on tree lines.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Diagrams, Information Design, Maps, Scholarly Publishing, Visual Explanation

October 16, 2010, 5:04 pm

Of Clocks and Time

By Tim Roy

The tech blog Gizmodo recently alerted us to a fascinating production featuring the Astronomical Clock in Prague’s Old Square.  Using a highly produced light projection system, combined with sound and image, the combined team from Macula, data-live and Tomato Productions effectively told the story of the 600 year old clock in a crowd-stopping 10 minute show.

Here at Dynamic Diagrams, we have our own fascination with clocks. Here are some images from our own production of a piece on Le Roy’s 1768 Marine Chronometer:



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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Information Design

October 4, 2010, 7:31 pm

Creating Experiences with Sir John Soane

By Tim Roy

Dynamic Diagrams has been privileged to collaborate with some of the finest museums in the world including the J. Paul Getty Museum, the National Air and Space Museum, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  While our work has ranged from designing the overall information architecture of a museum’s web presence, to multi-media personal histories, to complex interactive kiosks involving 3D models, it is connected by the unifying thread of our focus on user experience.  By considering how a visitor will experience an interaction – be it a web site, kiosk, or video – we can help our clients facilitate the most challenging of communication goals: understanding.

There is little doubt that the “big” museums – the Gettys, the Tates, and the MOMAs – garner a great deal of public attention for their collections and the experiences they create.  Yet, there is something special about the “small” museums and what they can teach us.

Sir John Soane’s Museum is one such example.  Located in London, it was established in 1806 by the architect Sir John Soane in the interest of providing design and artistic resources for his architectural students.  By 1833, the collection had been made public under an act of Parliament  and upon Soane’s death, in 1837, was placed under the auspices of a board of trustees and a curator, with the sole intent of making the house and its holdings broadly accessible.

Housing almost 35,000 unique items ranging from Egyptian antiquities to medieval objects to  architectural models, Soane assembled his own secret world designed to inspire “Amateurs and Students of the Arts.”  In his attention to the smallest and most subtle detail, Soane created meaning for those who cared enough to carefully observe and engage.  Stories could be found in a letter’s postmark or in the placement of a single carved button.  In many ways, this is an early gesture towards producing an experience for a collections’ users informed by a shared language and common goals.

The newly-redesigned Sir John Soane Museum website.

The museum’s web site was recently redesigned and provides an interesting overview of the collection and some of its hidden details.  Still, there is no replacement for actually experiencing the museum in person, even if one must patiently queue for admission.  The wait is absolutely worth it.

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Comments (3) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Information Architecture, User Experience

July 22, 2010, 9:01 am

Fastball, Cutter, Slider

By Henry Woodbury

In an appreciation of New York Yankees’ closer Mariano Rivera, the New York Times has put together an impressive animation that shows how he pitches. Even if you are not a baseball fan, this is worth a look for its artistry and integrity. By modeling and animating a season’s worth of data the visualization connects process — how Rivera throws the ball — with outcomes — a scatter plot of where his pitches cross the plate.

One highlight of the visualization is the comparison of three pitches — fastball, cutter, slider. Each is distinguished by a different spin, created by a different grip and release.

Still from Mariano Rivera Animation

Credit for the visualization goes to Graham Roberts, Shan Carter, and Joe Ward.

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Comments (1) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Charts and Graphs, Sports, Visual Explanation

May 25, 2010, 11:38 am

Saint Ginés Wins MUSE Award

By Henry Woodbury

Dynamic Diagrams and the J. Paul Getty Museum have won a  2010 Silver MUSE award for the Getty-produced video Making a Spanish Polychrome Sculpture. Dynamic Diagrams created the 3D animation that opens the video and shows how the XVII century sculpture was assembled. The Getty integrated this animation with live action footage that shows carving and surface treatment techniques. The effectiveness of this combination was noted by many of the judges:

This is a fine example of technology effectively used to clearly demonstrate an intricate artistic process. It’s the combination of the digital imagery with the live footage of an artist that makes this video exciting and fascinating for all kinds of audiences

The MUSE awards are presented annually by the American Association of Museums’ Media and Technology committee. They recognize “institutions or independent producers which use digital media to enhance the museum experience and engage new audiences.” We are proud to work with The Getty on projects of such scope and distinction.

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Comments (1) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Current Events, Dynamic Diagrams News, Technology, Visual Explanation

May 25, 2010, 11:16 am

Creative Destruction

By Henry Woodbury

Wired runs a very interesting piece on Pixar and how it, among all Hollywood studios, manages to produce hit after hit. One factor in their success is the stability of their team. Another is their ability to shred through ideas:

Every few months, the director of each Pixar film meets with the brain trust, a group of senior creative staff. The purpose of the meeting is to offer comments on the work in progress, and that can lead to some major revisions. “It’s important that nobody gets mad at you for screwing up,” says Lee Unkrich, director of Toy Story 3. “We know screwups are an essential part of making something good. That’s why our goal is to screw up as fast as possible.”

I really like this framework for the creative process. Creative ideas — in design as well as film making — build from iteration, from critical review and rework. The time to run through this process of creative destruction is the concept stage — “to screw up as fast as possible.” Once you move into production, rethinking costs much more time and money. The importance of concept development is something we always try to communicate to our clients.

But I would add that the ability to respond to criticism starts with the stability and talent of the team. General Creighton W. Abrams put it this way:

The only way to get anywhere with kicking ass is with an outfit that is already good.

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Comments (1) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Business, Creativity, Technology

May 19, 2010, 12:52 pm

Explore the Display Cabinet

By Henry Woodbury

Augsburg Display Cabinet at The Getty MuseumOne of the masterworks in The Getty Museum’s newly opened European sculpture and decorative arts galleries is the Augsburg Display Cabinet, a lavishly decorated 17th century cabinet that once would have stored a collector’s curios and precious objects.

The cabinet features many panels and doors beyond those opened for display. To give visitors a look inside the cabinet and help them understand the details of its decoration and construction, The Getty asked Dynamic Diagrams to create an interactive 3D model of the artifact.

Working closely with Getty curators and media professionals, we used a comprehensive set of photographs to build the model and apply surface details. We then coded our application to import text and zoomable images from an external source, allowing Getty staff full control over the descriptions and detail views that accompany the model.  

Our application is presented in the gallery on a touchscreen display, as seen at right in this photo from the Daily News of Los Angeles.

The Getty has also placed the application on its web site allowing you to explore the wonders of the Augsburg Cabinet on your own computer.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Current Events, Dynamic Diagrams News, Visual Explanation

April 8, 2010, 4:57 pm

Guest Teaching InfoViz

By Kirsten Robinson

Dr. Bill Gribbons at Bentley University recently invited Dynamic Diagrams to present some of our work to his Information Visualization class. The class is part of the Master’s degree program in Human Factors in Information Design, of which I’m an alumna.

After I gave a brief introduction to Dynamic Diagrams, Piotr took the spotlight, showing a wide variety of visual explanations from past and present projects. Examples included highly detailed web site inventories and architecture diagrams, process illustrations, data visualizations, and animated 3D models. While Piotr explained the challenges and design solutions for each project, I played Vanna White, zooming and scrolling so the students (some of whom were attending online) could see relevant sections.

It was a great experience for me to revisit some of the past work (Samsung Electronics, Holtzbrinck), and to understand some of the more recent work (Getty) in greater depth. There never seems to be enough time to sit back and appreciate our colleagues’ work during a normal workday.

Holtzbrinck web properties inventory

Holtzbrinck web properties inventory

The best part was hearing the audible gasps as we revealed each new piece. As part of their coursework, students are required to create their own information displays, while also explaining the human factors (visual and cognitive) that help or hinder our ability to process them. I hope we were able to provide a bit of inspiration for their next projects!

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Diagrams, Dynamic Diagrams News, Information Design, Visual Explanation

October 23, 2009, 3:45 pm

The Mummy Animation Joins the Mummy

By Henry Woodbury

At the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Getty Villa Malibu, our 3D animation of the of Mummy of Herakleides is now installed in the gallery:

Mummy of Herakleides Exhibit at the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Getty Villa Malibu

It’s a perfect day for a trip to Malibu.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Dynamic Diagrams News, Visual Explanation

August 26, 2009, 1:29 pm

Mummy of Herakleides

By Henry Woodbury

The Mummy of Herakleides at the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Getty Villa Malibu is an Egyptian mummy from the Roman period (about A.D. 150). To explain the mummification process, the Getty asked Dynamic Diagrams to create a short movie for display in the gallery.

This particular mummy has several unique features, revealed by CT scans, including the removal of the heart (more commonly the lungs were removed) and the placement of a mummified ibis on the abdomen of Herakleides within the final wrapping.

Using 3D modeling software we animated the process by which the nearly 2000-year-old artifact was created. The final cut, with voice over, has now been posted to the Getty web site and YouTube:

A higher resolution version is also available on YouTube.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Dynamic Diagrams News, Visual Explanation

August 20, 2009, 2:43 pm

3D Modeling of the Old School

By Henry Woodbury

Big wheel bicycle patented in 1879 by Sylvester Sawyer

This is just one artifact from an exhibit of 18th and 19th century U.S. patent models at Harvard University. The exhibit, Patent Republic, is on the second floor of Harvard’s Science Center and is open weekdays through December 11. Wired.com has an article and slideshow.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Current Events, Prototyping

August 18, 2009, 4:09 pm

“The credits sequence cost more than most films made up to that point.”

By Henry Woodbury

I’m talking about Superman (1978). Here are the opening credits:

Today, this is a student project. Here’s a version by “saucejenkins” done in After Effects for “a Digital Editing & Compositing class”:

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Technology

June 29, 2009, 2:08 pm

Sunny Days Over 3D Cities

By Henry Woodbury

The Chinese firm Edushi (“E-city”) has created 3D models of over 40 Chinese cities, including Hong Kong:

Edushi Hong Kong

Google Map-like pan, zoom, and search features make it easy to explore these candy landscapes, until one reaches the edge of the model and the world either fades or flattens — as in the screen capture of Guangzhou below.

edushi-guangzhou

Oddly, the Edushi artists generally point North 45 degrees off vertical (counterclockwise). This means that the 3D maps don’t align with common roadmap or satellite views.

(via PopSci.com)

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Comments (2) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Illustration, Maps, Visual Explanation, Web Interface Design

February 18, 2009, 8:53 pm

3D Modeling Reveals Construction of Saint Ginés

By Henry Woodbury

In conjunction with a current exhibition of Luisa Roldana’s Saint Ginés de La Jara, the J. Paul Getty Museum created a video of the techniques used to create the medieval polychrome statue.

Dynamic Diagrams work is featured in the first section of the video, in which 3D modeling software is used to recreate the assembly of the XVII century wooden sculpture.

Still for Saint Gines Video

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Dynamic Diagrams News, Visual Explanation

August 28, 2008, 11:28 am

Groovin’ with Some Energy

By Henry Woodbury

Areva Ad FrameHere’s an ad that actually caused me to click.

Areva, “the no. 1 nuclear energy products and services vendor in America,” has constructed a new print and Internet ad campaign around the birds-eye isometric view of its world. The Web animation shows energy production and use from mining to power generation to the disco.

It reminded me of the Royskopp video we linked here, but with a somewhat different rationale. Both animations were done by the French firm H5 (look under FILMS > CLIPS for Royskopp; under FILMS > PUBLICITE for Areva).

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Comments (1) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Art, Branding, Business, Illustration, Infographics, Information Design, Marketing, Visual Explanation

February 20, 2007, 4:43 pm

Visual Information for Origami

By Henry Woodbury

The New Yorker has a long article on physicist and origami artist Robert J. Lang that also illuminates the dynamically changing world of origami. In short, this ancient artform has changed radically with the application of modern mathematical tools:

In 1970, no one could figure out how to make a credible-looking origami spider, but soon folders could make not just spiders but spiders of any species, with any length of leg, and cicadas with wings, and sawyer beetles with horns. For centuries, origami patterns had at most thirty steps; now they could have hundreds. And as origami became more complex it also became more practical. Scientists began applying these folding techniques to anything — medical, electrical, optical, or nanotechnical devices, and even to strands of DNA — that had a fixed size and shape but needed to be packed tightly and in an orderly way.

Garden Spider Garden Spider Crease Pattern Longhorn Longhorn Crease Pattern

Lang’s personal origami site is rich with images and ideas. For many of his constructions, Lang provides a “crease pattern,” a one-page diagram of singular complexity (see above). Lang explains:

Crease patterns have become much more popular in the last 15 years as a means of conveying origami. Part of the reason is that it’s a lot easier to draw a single crease pattern than to draw a detailed step-by step folding sequence. Part of the reason is that many origami composers (including myself) construct crease patterns as part of their design process, so the finished crease pattern comes ” for free.” And part of the reason is that with the general rise in folding ability worldwide, a reasonable number of people now have the skill to “read” a crease pattern and fold the encoded form.

Further on, Lange expands on his last point:

…a crease pattern can sometimes be more illuminating than a detailed folding sequence, conveying not just “how to fold,” but also how the figure was originally designed. And thus, it can actually give the folder insight into the thought processes of the origami composer in a way that a step-by-step folding sequence cannot.

Lang’s entire essay is enormously interesting for anyone concerned with models, diagrams, and visual explanations. Crease patterns need to show both details and large scale features of a pattern. They may be simplified for readability, or be augmented with additional lines or symbols that indicate key elements of the design. Like a musical score, they are designed for the trained eye but democratically open to anyone who wishes to learn their language.

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Comments (0) | Filed under: 3D Modeling, Design, Visual Explanation