By Thushal Karunamuni
SA8905 – Geo-visualization Project
Link to map animation: Youtube Video
“Space: the final frontier,” a famous quote from the ever so classic and captivating TV Series, “Star Trek” was the inspiration for this map animation. This favourite TV series that I had been watching since the age of 8 has made me strive to create a globe with attributes mapped to it. In many episodes, as the Star Trek Enterprise approached a planet, the onboard Starfleet crew always reported to the Commander, Captain James T. Kirk about their findings by sometimes mapping and investigating observations on the planet before teleporting themselves to explore the planet. Hence, this time, I wanted to map popular coffee chains such as Tim Hortons and Starbucks in Canada and the mainland US just to get a glimpse of the spatial distribution of coffee stores. Now, I imagined myself to be in the fictional Starfleet to report my findings to the commander if he was interested in landing on Earth to try out some coffee. Thus, this blog dwells into the use of Adobe After Effects to make planet Earth with mapped point data of coffee locations. Interestingly, this is the same software used by VFX artists like Andrew Kramer to make Star Trek Into Darkness’s movie titles.
The animated map creation was extremely fun. The first challenge was to collect data from ESRI’s ArcGIS Business Analyst for each coffee chain using the ‘Business and Facilities Search.’ This grabs all the data you would need for the project. Then, the data would have to be saved online and downloaded to ArcGIS Pro. Ensure that you are using the Plate Carée projection. Save each individual coffee chain as an AIX file as that can be opened with Adobe Illustrator. Further, open the AIX file in Illustrator (make sure to have ArcGIS for Adobe CC) with an ArcGIS account and load the map data and point files. You may create a blur or brightness that is then exported as a jpeg file. The time consuming part of the project is when it comes to using Adobe After Effects. This is the core of the project where the video file is developed. Install the Video Copilot Orb plug-in into After Effects and the earth textures as this will be essential to creating the video file. The website consists of a tutorial that can be followed to map the data onto the globe. However, what the tutorial doesn’t teach is to map many attributes onto the globe. The trick is simple. Basically, many globes each containing the attribute of interest as seen in Figure 2. After each timeframe, ensure that you place the globe and that it appears on the map animation but the viewer wouldn’t know that you made multiple globes! Furthermore, Figure 3 shows that you need to insert the jpeg file from Illustrator into the illumination layer that maps the coffee layer point data for you. The video can be timed according to the audience or based on how much time you have to present. I kept my video under 2 minutes. Once you are satisfied with the output of your video, export the video using Adobe Media Encoder and export as a Youtube 1080p video. Last, import the video into Adobe Premiere Pro.
Adobe Premiere Pro is a video editing software used by many vloggers and film professionals to produce digital media online. You may add specialized glitch texts that I found on Motion Array. Don’t forget to add some music too! Since I’m uploading this video to my Youtube channel, I would have to use music that is not copyrighted content just to be safe.
If I had all the equipment available to me to make this project as best as possible, it would be a PC with lots of RAM and a good graphics card. This way I could preview the video in detail before publishing. I’m limited by low resolution to preview the video. Moreover, with the ever changing digital media that uses VR technology, I would like to use 3D friendly plugins that lets the viewer watch the video using 3D glasses which would be spectacular. I hope you enjoy my video!