Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Digital module- Infographics animation script planning

The progress on my infographics project has been admittedly slow so far, in equal parts due to the fact that I still have several months to complete it, and that the deadline for my parallel 'Business of Animation' module is much sooner, making that module more of a priority at the moment.

Nevertheless, I have spent a fair amount of time jotting down ideas, sketching out plans for exactly what animations might be used, and researching my chosen topic for interesting facts and information to represent. It has been a while since my last post on this module, so for those who don't remember I have chosen to base my infographic animation on the causes of traffic jams (don't worry- it's more interesting than you'd think!). You can find the original post here.

In that post, I explained that it is best to plan your narrative first, and base your animations around that script. This not only helps with timing, but it helps everything to stay relevant and helps you to be selective with the information you display on screen. Things will soon get overwhelming if you flash every single word in front of the viewer! It is best to single out facts, dividing the narrative into segments to tackle, then figuring out interesting and natural ways for them to link together and flow from one to the other.

As a result, I have looked online and found a wide range of appropriate facts from reliable sources. These facts have been compiled as a draft script, which I have timed myself reading and I estimate a current length of about three minutes. The brief for this module states that the animation should be no longer than three minutes, so for a draft stage this is perfect- it is far better to choose what to remove than struggle to find extra facts to shoehorn in! In due course, I shall refine this script and begin to create a storyboard of what the final animation might look like.

There are roughly 61.8 million people currently living in the UK, a number increasing all the time. Projections show that this figure is likely to have surpassed 70 million by 2029.

The best official guesstimates suggest there are currently around 27 million households in the UK with 31 million cars.

As the population rises, so too does the number of cars on the roads. Since 2001, the number of cars has risen from 24.6 million to 31 million- and with more cars, there are more traffic jams.

A report in 2010 estimated that by 2025, drivers could be wasting a collective 658 million hours a year stuck in traffic.

While the underlying cause of a traffic jam might be an accident, drink driving, a bottleneck, or people simply changing lanes, researchers have revealed that it is how drivers react to the cars in front that causes traffic to slow to a halt.

If all drivers behaved the same way, traffic would not stop completely. It is the unpredictable behaviour of both aggressive and timid drivers that, in real life situations, makes things worse.

When the car in front slows down, timid drivers ‘shy away’, deliberately slowing down even more themselves to increase the distance between vehicles. Of course, this leads to cars further behind having to slow down too.

Aggressive drivers on the other hand cause a similar effect by driving too fast, and needing to brake hard at the last minute to avoid hitting the car in front. They too then slow to leave a space in front- with a resulting effect on everything travelling behind them. Often, these effects can be felt as much as 20 miles further back.

This so called ‘stop and start’ driving of aggressive motorists does more than cause accidents and traffic jams. It also increases fuel consumption and produces extra emissions.

Researchers suggest that robot driven vehicles could be used to ease traffic jams, particularly in urban environments. Vehicles capable of sensing their environment and detecting proximity to other cars could maintain safe distances and keep traffic moving. Manufacturers such as Toyota, General Motors and Mercedes are already developing robotic vehicles that can take control in dangerous situations, or are completely autonomous.

It is believed that in 10 years, cities such as London will have autonomous vehicles as public transportation.

The introduction of ‘driverless’ cars could have a wide range of benefits aside from reducing the amounts of accidents. There would be a lessened need for safety gaps on roads, increasing the amount of useable road space. There would be fewer limitations for who can use the vehicles (for example those too young to drive now or the disabled). The need for people to go out of their way as a ‘redundant passenger’ would be eliminated as the car could drive automatically to pick people up or drop them off at their destinations. The cars could also reduce parking congestion by driving off on their own to find a space where space itself is not in short supply, and reduce the needs for traffic police and car insurance.

But what exactly would this future be like? Are people ready to entrust their lives to machines?

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