With 48 toolbars at version 9.3.1 ArcGIS Desktop has a lot of hidden functionality that many users may be unaware of. One such toolbar is the Animation toolbar which allows you to animate data to help identify spatial trends through time. The functionality is not obvious at first but ArcGIS Desktop’s integrated Help covers animation in quite some detail. In this blog post we’ll cover the basics of animation using the example of animating the North Sea wells spudded by a particular oil company over time, a timely example with the UK’s 26th licensing round around the corner.
To begin, open the Animation toolbar by clicking on View > Toolbars and then select Animation.
Let’s look at the terminology used within the Animation toolset:
• Keyframe: a keyframe is a snapshot of the visual state of the map at a point in time.
• Group Animation: an animation that loops though layers within a group layer.
• Time Layer Animation: an animation that uses values within an attribute field.
• Track: an ordered collection of keyframes transitioning through time.
In this example we’re going to create a Time Layer Animation to animate the wells that were spudded over time. Select Time Layer Animation from the animation menu and then populate the dialog as below.
1. Select the layer to be animated.
2. Select the field that contains date data.
If the date is stored in a string format then in the format list you can select the correct format of the string e.g. DDMMYY.
3. Select the time interval to loop through data.
4. If you wish to retain the data on the map then check Animate fields cumulatively. If this is not checked then when animating from one period of time to another the previous period’s data will be removed from the map.
5. Specify a text string to be used as a label in front of the Start Time field value when posted on the map.
6. Click Create.
If data was to be hidden sequentially during time of the animation you can specify a field name for End Time (uncheck ‘Animate fields cumulatively’).
Click on the ‘Open Animation Controls’ tool (right-most tool) on the Animation toolbar to open the animation controls, then click on the play button to play the animation.
You can modify the properties of the time track at any time by opening the Animation Manager on the animation toolbar. Select the Tracks tab, select the track and then click on Properties.
You can then export the animation to a video (*.avi) file, using the following workflow:
1. Click on the Animation menu in the animation toolbar and select Export to Video.
2. Navigate to a target output folder and specify a name for your video.
3. The next dialog will provide options for video compression. If you have a higher quality codec (compressor program) then you can select it in this dialog. Higher quality codecs can also be obtained from the Internet e.g. DivX.
4. Click OK.
The above example is a simple ArcGIS Desktop animation showing BP wells drilled in the UK North Sea. This uses a graph which also tracks its data over time. To do this first create the graph using the default wizard in the Tools > Graphs menu option. Then, when proceeding through the animation workflow above, use the graph’s data source (e.g. a table or a layer) when selecting the layer to be animated in the ‘Create Time Layer Animation’ dialog. ArcGIS will automatically synchronise the timings of the animation between layers. With the graph window open, position the window over the map at a suitable location for it to be recorded. Note that anything positioned over the map at the time of the export will be recorded.
Posted by Rob Clark, Consultant, Exprodat.