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ChartFlight - Computer-generated Data Flights


chartflightAs one of the few 3D applications, you can run Blender on a webserver to do cool things. Here's a good example: ChartFlight.

Rainer Lutz wrote:

ChartFlight is a web service that uses Blender and its Python API to automatically generate three-dimensional data flights.

Users simply provide a map or an image, a set of locations restricted to that image, which define where to visualize data, and the data for every location itself. Using a Python script to combine these information ChartFlight generates an animated flight across the map and visualizes the given data. For a flexible use of such visualizations we set up ChartFlight to render videos, which can be downloaded after they have been processed.

One of our examples shows freight traffic statistics for Europe, but, in general, ChartFlight can be used to visualize different statistics (e.g. election results, soccer, or cancer incidence statistics):

Note, that our web service is still in development and not fully translated to English language.

For more information and example videos visit our website or ChartFlight on Vimeo.

About the Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.


  1. Nice software, although the shown "stacked circle diagrams" are pretty useless, since it's hard to compare the changes. I would prefer the normal stack diagrams there.

    Maybe having a s"tacked circle pyramid" would be better, so that you could see the lower stacks since they are not completely obstructed by the upper ones?

  2. @TheTinyToon: Ok, comparing all pie charts can be a bit tricky, but comparing the current one, while it is animated, with the chart under it is possible. Especially, if you add text or audio comments that point out these differences.
    For comparing all values you should better use ring charts, which is can be considered as a flat form of your "stacked circle pyramid".

  3. Thake heart in that you are 99% there, the idea is great.

    That devil of 1% detail make me concur with TheTinyToon though.

    Get better presentation ideas from Excel on how best represent time series information like the one you're trying to show.

    Conversely, I disagree with Rainer on the audio part: I don't want "voice" to understand a chart. Same for animation: it's nifty, but it amounts to saying "I don't know how to best represent my data in its final stage". Keep the anims all you like, but the final frame must be printable and informative in itself.

    Whether Use pyramids or cows, I don't care. Just make it printable and understandable without the anims... IF you had 10 years of data, I wouldn't remember anything about year 1... And if you must feed me a table of value (I guess that's the "add text" advice from Rainer), that too suggests a failed graphical representation.

    Don't take any of this negatively: I think this is splendid. I suppose that you just need a slight variation on your choices (and yes, like JimmyVolatile said, having the pies fly with enough space in between may very well do the trick). So then you're 99.9% there :)

    Congratulations & keep it up.


  4. @arnaud: First of all, thanks for your detailed comment. ChartFlight is still a prototype implementation and we need such comments to improve it. Of course, you are right when it comes to print a single frame pie charts are not the best choice. But as I said before we provide
    other chart types that are "printable" like the ring charts:

    And keep in mind that our goal was not put some Excel sheets on a map to fill it with as much data as possible.
    The idea is to use these videos in presentations to both support the lecturer and to give viewers an overview of the data. We thought about telling some kind of story to present the data and to not keep the audience staring at flat two-dimensional charts, which are possibly distributed over several slides. That's why I think audio comments are helpful.
    And depending on the data a user wants to present she can decide herself if she prefers using pie charts, which benefits the last chart displayed, or e.g. ring charts, which show the whole "history".

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