• garycollins24

Chart to Image Animations in Tableau

For anyone who is fan of the TV show Britains Got Talent, you will know the act called 'Attraction', a Hungarian Theatre Act who won the show in 2013. For those that aren't aware, Attraction told beautiful and touching stories through silhouette and dance. Rolling forward 7 years, and when I was day dreaming about a topic for a new Tableau viz, I recalled the impact seeing Attractions' act had on me, and I started to think, 'If this act and way of story telling were to be a Tableau Viz, what would it look like...?


I kept thinking to myself, if this style of story telling were to become a Tableau viz, what would it look like....?



Once I had asked my self this question, I couldn't stop thinking about it. This was the start of my journey to learn about using Tableau animations to create Chart to Image transitions.


After lots of experimentation, fun and a bit of frustration, I created the following viz I entitled 'Extreme Weather Impacts on Health and Wellbeing':



The Thinking Behind the Viz


My objective from this viz was to create something where the viewer had no idea what was to come next, just like watching 'Attraction' for the first time. With a typical viz, whether it be a long form or sized for the screen, as a reader you will naturally scan it quickly, get an overall feel and impression, then go back and go over the details. That initial scan gives you the outline of the story, and then you fill in the gaps.


I wanted to create a viz that was different. No scanning, no peeking at what was further down the screen. Something simple. Something understated, but surprising, just like 'Attraction' was for me.


I also wanted to mix images and charts to tell a story. This limited the chart types I could use, so I needed to be creative. There was also the matter of working out how I was going to do it...!


Building the Viz


I have created a workbook on Tableau public that describes my initial testing of the transition concepts, the tools I used to create the viz, and the challenges I faced and overcame. I have also had the pleasure to go though this technique on a vizconnect session in October 2020 which you can view here. Click on the viz below to see the presentation which goes over the technique I used on Tableau Public:



Could this be worthy of an Iron Viz entry....?


During July 2020, and like much of the Data Visualisation community I was thinking about #ironviz. Should I enter (I never had before)...? My inner monologue kept saying 'Come on Gary, get real, you enjoy vizzing, but be serious. You have seen what it is about, you have seen what the contestants on stage create. Really? "


I listened to my inner monologue for a good few weeks, "Next year', I said to myself...."I will wait to next year". So I occupied my time in trying to work out how to create this viz around the idea of transitioning images and charts, and creating a story from it.


Eventually, my inner monologue had a second view. " You are getting on pretty well with these chart to image transitions Gary...why not use this for an ironviz entry? I haven't seen anyone else do this....it could be quite good?"


"Ok, I am going to go for it... No I'm not. Yes...No...." Eventually, on the day before the deadline closed, I decided that this was it, time to go face to face with my own personal fears. I finished the Chart to Image viz, and entered - my first Ironviz entry!


Better to be a growing competitor than an excited spectator...


I have seen tweets from people in the #datafam talking of feeling imposter syndrome, or the fear of posting up your vizzes publicly when you see the unbelievably high quality work others do. Me too. A Lot. I am not a designer in any shape or form. I am sure we can all remember our first Makeover Monday tweet....


It really does take a lot of courage to put your work out into the public domain. Lets face it, we all pour ourselves into the vizzing work we do - and the thought that others might not like it, or might even critique it can be really overwhelming. Vizzing becomes a very personal journey, and whilst there certainly is Best Practice approaches, there is also a high degree of personal creativity, interpretation and style at play.


The creation of this Viz, and then ultimately an entry to Iron Viz was one of these challenging journeys for me. I loved the learning experience and challenge that I went though creating this viz, but felt at the end it was rather plain and understated - not really the sort of thing an Iron Viz entry was made of.

I then saw this tweet from Chris Love and reminded myself of my original inspiration and motivation. I started out wanting to create a viz where the viewer had no idea what the story was going to be as it was told - just like the first time I saw 'Attraction' perform on Britains Got Talent. I had achieved my personal goals, so that was enough, I needed to enter.


Since I posted the Viz on twitter I have had a number of people ask me how I created the transitions between Charts and Images.


To top it all off, I received the following feedback from some who I have admired immensely since I joined the #datafam in 2019.


This for me was a real high!


My real learnings and advice for anyone feeling uncertain about sharing their work, whether it be an Iron Viz, makeoveronday or just a personal project is GO FOR IT! The fears are real, but the feeling when you confront these fears, share your work and move forward, its priceless. Others will always gain from seeing your own learning, your style, your thinking. The #datafam is the most supportive environment I have ever been involved with, and will support you all the way. It really will be ok.


Thanks for reading this blog, I hope you found it useful, and remember, keeping on vizzing!!


@garycollins24

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