Frederik Ruys on Animation in Data Visualization

Frédérik Ruys, a data journalist at Nedaeland van Boven, Director of Vizualism, and co-founder of the Dutch Infographic Conferences, spoke about visual-storytelling through animation.

Attendees were given an insight into Ruys’ Netherlands home through a documentary from Nederland van Boven, which used a combination of helicopter videos and Google maps with animated graphics to visualize various groups of data. From the path of a seagull throughout the day, to the visualization of what would happen if a perfect storm hit the below-sea-level nation, these animated graphics were elegantly intertwined with the topography of the land to provide the viewer with an amazing new perspective to data not previously explored in this depth.

After starting his path to data visualization in high school, Ruys continued to excel in being able to tell a magnificent story in an innovative way. After being involved in a car accident, Ruys talked about his adventure of collecting data from the crash scene and later creating a model of what happened, and then sending it to his insurance company with little success. Ruys says that in certain instances, “if you wanted data, you had to fetch it yourself.”

The main takeaway from Ruys’ presentation is how to approach the data that is being gathered, and what methods can be used to display them. By asking questions like “who, where, when, what, how/why, and how much,” different approaches can be used to efficiently visualize various data and information.

Ruys also spoke about the perils and the pitfalls of data, cautioning attendees that too much decoration, tunnel vision, and interpolation can take away from the true story of a data visualization. And if viewers can take away any good piece of advice from Ruys, it is that “it isn’t about the size of the data, but the quality of the story.”​

-Mallory Haack