Making of our Knight Foundation News Challenge Video

My team recently submitted a project idea to the Knight Foundation News Challenge “How can we harness data and information for the health of communities?”  Out of the 643 entries submitted to the Knight Foundation News Challenge, our project “Open CANVAS: A Web Application Harnessing Google Street View to Collect and Share Data on Neighborhoods” was one of the 40 projects selected as finalists.  Each team was asked to revise their projects for the next round of review and to make a 30 second video explaining the project.

Here is the video we came up with…

 

How we made the video:

To make this A-ha inspired video we used PowerPoint as the central tool to composite and create each of the key frames in the video.  Hand drawn sketches were scanned and loaded, one sketch per slide, into PowerPoint to make the storyboard.  Additional images were then aligned and layered on top of the scanned images of the sketches to create the various in frame effects.  A PDF of the PowerPoint story board file can bee seen here.

To make the animation of walking down 125th street in Street View, Snagit was used to screen capture 10 sequential views of 125th street in Street View.  Each screen capture image was then loaded into Gimp and run through the Quick Sketch filter.  Each of these filtered Street View images was then loaded into PowerPoint and layered on top of the scanned images of the note book pages.

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A Street View shot deconstructed – click for full size image

The aerial map and the heat maps of Physical Disorder in Philadelphia were created using GIS and R.  Using PowerPoint, the aerial map and heat map images were layered on top of the hand drawn sketch of a map of Philadelphia.  The fade-in of the aerial map was made by using the aerial map image file as a “Picture Texture Fill” for a rectangle shape layered on top of the hand sketch map.  Across four PowerPoint slides the transparency of the Fill was decreased to create a fade-in effect. The “Picture Texture Fill” function was used because it is the only way to add transparency effects to all pixels in a bitmap image in PowerPoint.  Six separate heat maps of Physical Disorder were created with different levels of transparency, so the fade-in could be created by just importing the images into PowerPoint and flipping through the images.

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The aerial map fade-in shot deconstructed – click for full size image

Once each key frame was created, 26 in total, the “Save as picture” function was used to export each PowerPoint slide’s set of layered images as a single JPEG file.  The audio tracks were recorded and edited using Audacity, the open source audio editing program from SourceForge, and saved as high quality WAV files.  The JPEG and WAV files were then loaded into Microsoft Movie Maker to create the final film.  Each JPEG was given a different duration setting in Movie Maker to align the flow of images with the soundtrack; each still of the walk along 125th street was given a duration of 0.40 seconds to create the animation effect.  The final movie was rendered as a 1080P high-definition MP4 video file.

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