Episode 03: How to Tell a Story Through Movement - Featured Viz by Pierre Massat

Pierre Massat. Image via Pierre.

Pierre Massat. Image via Pierre.


Welcome to episode 3 of Data Viz Today. How can you find a story by visualizing movement in your data? I share Pierre Massat's data viz where he uses movement to visualize the familial relationships of Kenyan elephants. It's a compelling example of using movement to tell a story. Learn how you can do the same.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Google PodcastsStitcher, SoundCloud & Spotify.

These 4 steps will find the movement in your data and reveal your next story...

"The longest running study on wild elephants" by Pierre Massat. Image via  ATE .

"The longest running study on wild elephants" by Pierre Massat. Image via ATE.

  • Welcome! I'm Alli Torban.
  • 00:30 - Featured viz by Pierre Massat for the Amboseli Trust for Elephants.
  • 00:50 - It earned an Information is Beautiful Award!
  • 01:00 - How can we tell a story through movement?
  • 01:05 - Pierre Massat is a data visualization specialist based in Belgium.
  • 01:25 - Question they wanted to answer was to show the complexity of the family dynamics and how the population has grown over time.
  • 01:40 - Pierre spent a lot of time cleaning the tabular data.
  • 02:05 - At first, he wanted to use a big family tree as the visualization, but it was too complex for 3,000 elephants.
  • 02:15 - He decided to use animation to show the family movements.
  • 02:40 - Tools used: Javascript (mostly d3.js), HTML, CSS
  • 03:40 - He used force-directed layout, which gave a life-like wiggle/shuffle to the circles.
  • 04:20 - Seeing time passing makes you feel like you're living it.
  • 04:50 - My main takeaway: try this 4 step process to help you find a story in your dataset by analyzing movement.
    • Define the characters
    • Define the attributes of the characters
    • How are the characters grouped/categorized?
    • What events are happening in your dataset?
    • Now visually represent your characters and attributes and notice how they move from different categories as time passes and events happen. What do you see?
  • 06:10 - GET THE PRINTABLE!
  • 06:40 - I used this 4 step process on voting records of U.S. Senators to see if there is a story in their movements.
  • 08:25 - Advice from Pierre: designers need to show their work in an objective way and work on projects that bring our world toward a more sustainable future.
  • 09:10 - Check out Pierre's website and twitter. Thanks, Pierre!
  • 09:20 - Next featured viz is by Shirley Wu!
  • 09:40 - Subscribe to my weekly newsletter, which compiles the top tips from the week into a short email.
  • 09:50 - Nominate a data viz to be featured on the show.
  • 09:55 - Contact me on social media @dataviztoday!

New episodes are released every Tuesday at 6 AM EST.