Re: Animated planner, semi-transparent 3D charts

Forrest Bishop (
Fri, 02 Jan 1998 21:19:26 -0800

Jeff Allbright wrote:
> Forrest -
> Can you provide some information on the animated planner and 3D chart that
> you mentioned. This kind of visualization software sounds like it something
> of interest to many of us challenged with presenting complex interrelated
> information.
> - Jeff
> Forrest Bishop wrote:
> I've played around with a animated planner,

"Played around" is the operative phrase- it consists mostly of ideas
and a few tests in some of my animation software (RayDream 5,
Trispectives 2).
One version has morphing objects moving along a time axis, affecting
each other in various ways. A more ambitious version would have
interactivity among the items (e.g. ideas bounce of each other, new tech
out old).
Some work has been done on connecting the objects
with colored lines and with transparent rods (etc.) having their own
It is these connections, and how they grow and interweave over time,
that is of most interest.

Some reasons for using animation software:
Being able to turn features such as detail levels, whole layers,
attributes, etc.
on and off is very appealing for a user interested in particular
Picking camera angles and trajectories is also very heplful- immersive
VR would
be even better.

Two major problems with this idea:
Representing abstract concepts with 3D objects. Making them out of text
a little, but screen resolution is a constraint.
Picking what the other two axes represent (I have a most unfortunate
visualizing multidimensional structures is nearly impossible.)
Picking multiple views helps a little, using an axis for more than one
helps sometimes, using layers gets confusing.

One project I would like to do is to represent the past history of
science and technology this way (I don't have the time for this,
though), as a means of
developing a future technology visual aid. The vacuum tube, for example,
represented as threads of icons in the 19th century and earlier (light
bulb, vacuum pump, etc.) that coalesce into a tube icon near the turn of
the 20th century. New
threads spring from this, for triodes,
pentodes, Klystrons, etc. These merge with other threads to form radio
radar, etc. Then most fade away with the advent of the transistor.

Forrest Bishop
Institute of Atomic-Scale Engineering