MapCarte 8/365: The Next Big Spill by Lauri Vanhala, 2013

Beautiful production on this video of marine traffic in The Baltic Sea gives the map a cinematic quality. The map is the main actor but the supporting cast of captions makes it easy to understand. The map provokes a questioning approach to what you’re seeing as the story unfolds. The zooming, panning and soft-focus gives the map a strong aesthetic and the use of a sensible soundscape adds to the atmosphere.

This map goes beyond simply animating data and expecting the viewer to figure out what’s going on. It asks a question in the title, builds expectation with a series of statements before the map is revealed. A sensible use of satellite imagery to provide the basemap and because of the dark background, highly saturated colour is used to great effect for emphasising the marine traffic colour coded by type.

it would have been easy to speed up the animation like so many online maps of temporal data but the slow speed adds to the overall impact.