5.2 animate demo


The demo command illustrates how effective an animation can be by engaging the viewer with insights that a static graphic can not so readily convey. This can add significantly to the narrative that we are telling through the data and is a fundamental tool for the Data Scientist. Of course, a printed page can not show the animation (yet).

The demonstration builds a 100 frame animation based on code shared by Victor Yu on Twitter, 9 November 2018. The data used for the animation is from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). It shows 23 athletes competing in the decathlon a the 2016 Olympics.

Many observations emerge as you watch the animation. Two athletes start out ahead of the crowd after the first 100m sprint and pretty much stay ahead of the field. Notice the athlete who dropped quite a bit in the 100m sprint but excelled at the jumps and shotput, only to drops away for the remainder of the events.

Could we see all of this from a static chart? Sure. But the animation captures interest and we are visually drawn to some of the more dramatic changes over the course of the whole event.

The demo goes on to display (without building) an animation of the same data but with 800 frames. The resulting animation is somewhat smoother (and is actually the animation we see above).

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