Author: Archive User

Dataviz, Week 1, Class 1

NEW 300 / 600 – Professor Dan Pacheco
S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications

I. Welcome! An Introduction to using data visualization to tell stories.
– Let’s look at a few examples.


II. Class syllabus and expectations.
– Tuesday: instruction
– Thursday: lab
– Assignments due every Monday morning.


III. Class Blog, Spundge, Rebelmouse
Most of the assignments will be filed by embedding widget code into the class blog at


IV. Exercise: Introduce yourself through data!

1. Open this class roster in a web browser, or from your smartphone:

2. Pull out your cell phone and take a “selfie,” or have your neighbor do it for you.

3. Email the file to yourself and download the image to your desktop.

4. Go to and register for an account (note: account registration is frozen now that the class has started). Check your email to get your temporary password, then click the link in the email to log in with that password.

5. After logging in for the first time, click the link at the very top of the screen inviting you to edit your profile and assign a permanent password. Click the Update button to save your new password.

6. Upload the selfie you took to your profile by clicking the Choose File button at the bottom of the page, then Update Profile.

7. Return to your profile by going to Scroll down and right-click your photo. Choose View Image. Copy the URL for the image.

8. Finally, go this Google spreadsheet and paste your image URL into the image field. Fill out the rest of your information. (Note: the Google spreadsheet for this excercise is now frozen.)

9. Return to the  Class Roster page in step 1 ( You will also see information from others in the class as they add theirs. Look at the home page of and you should also see your info there. This is because the output of the link above is embedded into the page.


Congrats! You Participated in a Data Visualization
You not only introduced yourself to the class, but you participated in your very first interactive data-driven visualization. The data is all in a Google spreadsheet, and some free Javascript and JQuery code called Tabletop.js that we will use in a future class pulls all of that data into a web page. Try changing any of your information and you will see that the public web roster updates in real time.


V. Assignments, due before next class:

1. Fill out class survey here (also linked into the class blog):

2. Read this summary from Jaimi Dowdell of IRE on on Excel functions for journalists: We will go over some very basic Excel functions in class, but you are expected to learn more advanced functions needed for your projects on your own.

Assignment 2: Future of Virtual Reality in Television & Films

Virtual reality (VR) technology is steadily paving its way from video games to short films, and I believe that eventually it will even be able to reach the mainstream audience through broadcast television. The immersive nature of VR technology will help the audience to look at the content more than what is just available as a form of narrative. The use of stereoscopic visuals, and wider fields of view of visual displays is highly immersive and impactful.

Edward Miller, head of visuals at 360-degree video app, brought the idea of telehora to news journalism by creating a 360-degree video on the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. This was the first time a world news event was captured for the purpose of viewing with a virtual reality headset, such as the Oculus Rift or the Samsung Gear VR.One of the major issues with using virtual reality headsets is the motion sickness they are known to cause. This is most prevalent when wearers of VR headsets experience a sudden switch from a stationary to a moving scene. This is something that developers will have to overcome by developing new ways of telling stories without the need for sudden movements.

“Game of Thrones” is now both a TV show and a video game. And now, it’s also part of this Oculus Rift. The developers are creating more things like the HBO experience.

Field Test for Drones: TV Series

For my second field test, I used drones to film footage for “Unsuper”, a six episode television series, that my Advanced TV Production class was producing. The series was based on the theme of “self-discovery”, figuring out who you really are. It dealt with different dimensions like good and evil operating within the human world and how these forces observe and influence the human world. The main protagonist of the story was a super villain who lived in “Evilton” or the evil land.


We wanted to create a larger-than-life impact in this story as it explored different dimensions and forces and we therefore, wanted to establish “Evilton” in a similar manner. After the NTNM class lecture on drones, I checked with Professor Pacheco if I could use the footage captured by drones for my Advanced TV class series. He encouraged me further and gave me the contact information for the point person, who further told the legal restrictions associated with flying drones. This limited me to just the aerial shots of the campus or some far uninhabited areas, because as per the rules it’s illegal to fly drones in Syracuse downtown area.

I thought that the aerial shots of campus would be perfect to represent “Evilton” as it would look more like a magical land, full of castles, rather than a regular college campus. So, I requested the Skyworkspro team to give me access to the scenic footage that their team had captured. As expected, it contained beautiful aerial shots of the campus, which looked no less than a magical land. I asked the editors of my “Unsuper” series team to color correct these shots by giving each shot a dark and mysterious color treatment. The editors did a fabulous job in camouflaging the campus in those shots. We used the footage filmed with drones in three episodes.

Episode 1


Episode 3


Episode 6

When the series was premiered, amongst other things, the audience was enthralled by the visually vivid and beautiful shots that were captured by drones. At the end, it all pieced together wonderfully and made perfect sense, which was further validated by many audience members who asked me the same question, “how did your team manage to get those beautiful aerial shots?”

This field test was a great experience for me as I was able to utilize the knowledge gained from this class and actually apply it to a project, which further yielded wonderful results.

Field Test for 360°camera

We did a field test for the 360°camera by using it to film a Newhouse tour. We invited Danicia Vargas to be our guide and selected three locations for the tour: The green screen studio in Newhouse 2, lounge area in Newhouse 1 and media innovation center in Newhouse 2. We also filmed the interactive media wall while the product developer; Lorne Covington was explaining the concept of interactive wall and the various intricacies associated with it. Our aim was to shoot a three-minute introduction video, so we managed to film approximately three-minute footage for each location.

go pro 2

Pre-production for this shoot was tedious as 360°camera needs to be charged extensively before the shoot. Prior to the shoot, almost 3-4 days ago, Professor Pacheco suggested us to we learn the basics of 360°camera from Professor Ken Harper and we are very thankful to him for giving us this useful advice, otherwise using this cool device would have been an uphill task for us. After that we also watched a tutorial, as we wanted to leave no stone unturned for the shoot. Even though, we worked towards a foolproof plan, we failed to charge all the six go-pro cameras effectively. The go-pro camera website did mention that 2-4 hours was sufficient time period to charge the cameras effectively. So, to be on the safer side, we charged all the cameras for 3 hours, but for some reason, some of the cameras kept on discharging. But, in the interest of time, we had to keep on shooting, as we had our tour guide, access to locations and the 360°camera for a stipulated time period.

We also had to ensure that every go-pro camera had exactly the same setting, which again was a very time consuming process. When we hit the “record” button, it indicated that only four cameras were connected which we didn’t notice until we had almost finished filming. This cost us another 10 minutes to find out the two faulty cameras. So, we ended taking out all the cameras from the case and changing the batteries. After this, we were able to shoot the media innovation center flawlessly, with all the six cameras. That was the only location we managed to get footage from all the six cameras. We recorded the audio for this shoot via an iPhone, held very close to the camera. So, while one of us was recording the footage on the camera, the other one was recording the audio simultaneously. It was a bit awkward, as we had to stand very close to each other to ensure that the audio was recorded effectively.

We categorized and imported all the footage to Google drive with six folders and audio file.

To stitch and edit the footage from all the 6 go-pro cameras of the 360°camera, we needed to download the Autopano software, which again required a very powerful computer with a suitably high configuration. Not owning such a powerful computer led us to seek Professor Pacheco’s help, who graciously agreed.

To sum it all up, even though conducting the field test for 360°camera was a challenging and tedious process, we learnt a lot. It was a rewarding experience as we fortunately managed to film a complete video of our tour, which would hopefully be used by Newhouse for the future incoming students.


Assignment 3: VR and 360 Video

By Veronica Wheelock

As a broadcast journalism major, I am very excited about 360° Video. As far as I have seen thus far, I think virtual reality has a little ways to go in terms of being more realistic.

360° video needs some work as well. The videos I viewed through Google Cardboard and the Oculus Rift that were taken with these cameras were not actually 360° all around. They were horizontally, but not vertically- meaning when I looked up or down, all I saw was black.

Either this results from faulty software, or the cameras themselves were not doing their job. If true 360° video can be accomplished, I think it can majorly change the way we consume media.

Movies and TV shows could be viewed through the Oculus Rift to make the viewer feel like they are in a personal IMAX theater. If 360° cameras become the norm, the Oculus Rift could replace television entirely.

There are already some 360° videos on YouTube, which takes away from the necessity of the Oculus headset.

Above is a video playlist that contains various 360° videos available on YouTube. You can move around the screen by clicking on the control pad in the top left corner.

The playlist shows how 360° video can be applied to all kinds of events like concerts, drift racing, even an Annoying Orange video.


Final Project: Upstate Politics

By Brian Ives – State-level politics in New York have been a contentious issue for decades. Like many states, New York’s politics tend to play out with regional divisions: cities vote more Democratic, and rural areas lean toward the G.O.P.

Looking at this map of the 2000 Presidential election, it’s pretty easy to figure out where the cities are: in the blue counties.

Map of New York's 2000 Presidential election results.

New York’s 2000 Presidential election results. Copyright © 2015 CartoDB.

What this map ignores is the sheer size differential between the state’s regions. New York City and its surrounding counties are not only more liberal than the rest of the state; they are also much, much bigger.

Take the same election, the 2000 Presidential election, as an example. Brooklyn, the largest of the five New York City boroughs, had over 600,000 people come out and vote. Over 75 percent of those people voted for Democrat Al Gore. Hamilton County, a deep red county in the Adirondacks and the state’s smallest, had only 3,733 people come to the polls. 64 percent of those people voted for Republican George W. Bush, but that’s still only around 2,400 votes.

This has huge implications for the state’s politics. It means outsiders know New York as the state that always votes Democratic. New York has not voted for a Republican Presidential candidate since Ronald Reagan. Since 2000, every Democratic Presidential candidate has carried the state with at least a 15-point margin; some have even topped 25 points.

New York Presidential Elections, 2000-2012 | Create infographics

But that solid-blue image masks serious divisions in the state’s politics. Look at the numbers: New York City regularly votes around 75 percent Democratic, while the rest of the state looks like a swing state, a-la Ohio or Florida. This next graphic shows the raw votes – not the percentages – from the past four Presidential elections.

Total Raw Votes, 2000-2012 | Create infographics

The three lines clustered near the top are the City’s Democratic votes and the rest of the state’s Republican and Democratic votes. That lonely red line near the bottom? That’s the Republican vote in New York City. Talk about being a fish out of water.

The differences get even more stark when we divide the state along traditional upstate-downstate lines. The division is a little ambiguous – everyone thinks downstate is everything south of them and upstate is everything north – but most political scientists and economists say the distinction is marked where people stop commuting into New York City for work.

I tend to think upstate and downstate New York are pretty much separated by the Interstate 84 corridor. I-84 runs along the northern edge of Orange and Putnam Counties, so that’s where I place my divider: Orange and Putnam Counties are downstate; Sullivan, Ulster, and Duchess are upstate.

So what does the data look like? Well, it certainly lends credence to upstaters’ claims that their votes don’t count.

In every Presidential election since 2000 except 2004, downstate Democrats have outvoted all Republicans in the state. Every upstate Democrat could have stayed home in 2000, 2008, and 2012, and Al Gore and Barack Obama still would have carried the state.

Total Votes, 2012-2000 | Create infographics

All these long-term numbers mask one important trend, though: the increasingly liberal nature of upstate itself. In 2000 and 20004, upstate New York was a battleground between Republicans and Democrats. In 2008 and 2012, Pres. Barack Obama easily carried the region.

Maybe that has something to do with President Obama’s unique electoral appeal, but it is undeniable. Here’s an interactive version of that electoral map of New York. Click through the different years and watch as upstate goes blue – way blue – in 2012, especially. Battleground counties became solid blue wins, and counties that historically leaned Republican were suddenly close votes.

People in upstate New York often claim to get the short end of the stick from the state and national governments. How much that’s true is up to interpretation, but the numbers make it clear New York City and its suburbs more than dominate the state’s overall politics.

Field Test….3D Pictures: Friend or Foe?

regina 3D


Lately there have been a lot of conversations revolving around Barbie Dolls that reflect the true female form. Parents want dolls that promote self acceptance to help raise healthier, happier children. I agree with the move toward making more realistic Barbie Dolls. I wanted to take 3D pictures of my friends and turn them into 3D printouts. However, because of time I was only able to take the picture.

Though the idea of having more realistic Barbie Dolls appealed to my friend, she did not like the idea of 3D pictures. She thinks that they’re, “Creepy!”

So my field test evolved into testing out 3D pictures. As a class, we discussed the future of this technology and generally agreed that this would become the future of cellphones and cameras. So far, my friend doesn’t think it’ll be a big hit. But when camera’s were new, some people were afraid/didn’t like that technology either! I’m sure within 5 years, 3D pictures will be the norm!

Field Test: Drones and Privacy

For my field test I chose to observe a drone in use and to interview people watching about the use of drones in every day life. I chose to do this because I am a Psychology major and am interested to see what people thought in regards to drones and their potential benefits and pitfalls. During the field test, I observed a drone being flown in close proximity to people. At a few points in the various trials, they almost crashed into people. This is the first potential pitfall that people pointed out to me. They questioned the maneuverability of the machine and they also feared that they may malfunction mid-flight and fall from the sky, causing damage to property or human life. One person who I spoke to explained that, “The idea of drones in the military and media is really cool. I just worry about police gaining access to drone technology.” People were very wary when it came to police and drones.   Many people were also fearful of being on camera even more than they already are in day-to-day life. One person explained, “I am on camera enough everyday. I don’t want to be on camera literally every second of every day.” As we move forward with drone technology it is important that we keep privacy concerns as well as ethical concerns at the top of out priority list. Below are the links were the drone can be seen almost coming into contact with people when we were test flying it.


Assignment 5: Odour Sensor in Subway–Mo Li

When I lived in NYC, something embarrassing often happened on me—I smelled odour in a train trolley—apparently some one farted without a warning. It is not just a moral issue, I felt like in this kind of situation, if I didn’t do some reactions like rubbing my nose or clearing my throat, people would think I was the “farter”. In addition, when I was siting in a train waiting for my day peacefully and maybe when I wanted to take a nap, I would be pissed off if I smelled something like rotten eggs. When I looked around trying to find out who was the criminal, I found nothing except emotionless faces that trying to cover the whole thing secretly. What a bad day.

However, Odour sensor might help us to solve the problem.
SensorShield2If Air Quality Egg could tell different particles in the air, then we could create a fart sensor by detecting the chemical composition in farts: nitrogen: 20-90%, hydrogen: 0-50% (flammable), carbon dioxide: 10-30%, oxygen: 2004IndianOceanTsunami0-10%, methane: 0-10% (flammable). The sensor could warn us by showing a moving wave with different color representing the concentration levels on our phone. The red color would show the “epicenter” and outside the green circle could be our safe harbor. Before we go into a train, if we notice there is some odour gas inside, we could choose to go to other trolleys.

The goal of the odour center is to avoid us from physical and psychological uncomfortable experience because of smelling “poisonous gas”. However, there are two obstacles currently. One is that there is no mobile signal and Internet underground in NYC subway system and the other one is that some study shows that smelling farts may be good for health by preventing disease and even cancer.

Field Test: Are Promotions More Effective When They Follow You?

by omar daouk.

Have you ever tried promoting a show, an event, even a garage sale you’re holding with just posters that you blanket around? If so, you probably will agree it can’t be the most effective way to spread the message and get people’s attention. Just take a look at the wall of cluttered posters in our very own Newhouse School:

All the Cluttered posters at Newhouse

All the Cluttered posters at Newhouse



Let’s face it, the average person walking by this wall would not be likely to stop and look at the detailed information on almost any of these posters. Not even the one for our Advanced TV Production Capstone show titled “Spectrum” (yes, our poster is visible above, right in the center). So my question is, would having a poster put up on an interactive sensor-based wall be a more effective way of grabbing a passerby’s attention, and thus create a memory strong enough to get that consumer to take action? In the case of our TV production “Spectrum,” would having an interactive display of our promotions get more attention than a physical, printed poster thus creating better memory/recall of the production’s title and screening date and thus be more effective at getting that person to show up to our screening?

Luckily, with the help of one Lorne Covington, I was able to get our poster and short promotional video up and running on the wall. Here’s how it works: with nobody in front of the wall, you see thumbnail-sized images of our poster floating and bouncing around. But when you step in front of it, one large poster floats to you, and follows you as you walk down the hallway. When you point your arm towards the larger poster, our promotional video comes up and plays. Check out the video below to see it in action:

Spectrum on the iWall






Pretty cool, huh?

Now in terms of testing the question asked above, there unfortunately was not enough time between our promotions being published on the wall to our recent screening to conduct any test. That doesn’t mean there can’t be any tests done in the future.

So to answer the question previously mentioned we would be measuring three things: attention, memory, and effectiveness.


Does a poster that follows you as you walk down a hall get more of your attention than a static, physical poster that doesn’t follow you on a screen? To measure this I would have 2 groups, control and experimental. The control group would witness a poster printed on paper that is the same size as the poster that pops up on the interactive all when you pass by. It would be taped onto the interactive wall and placed in the center. The experimental group would experience the interactive promotions as seen above. We would collect responses to the question “did you notice a poster for a TRF production” at the end of the hallway after subjects passed by, alongside a few other attention-related measures.


Does a poster that follows you as you walk down a hall make the material promoted more memorable than a physical poster? We would use the same groups as in the attention test above, but measure memory through a series of basic psychological measures. We would test for memory of the show title, the tag-line, and the time and date of the premiere screening. It might also be interesting to a long-term study (one week after exposure) and compare the results.


Does a poster that follows you as you walk down a hall get you to take the action(s) intended by the promotional material in more cases than a physical poster that doesn’t follow you? Again, we would use the same two groups, control and experimental. But to measure how many people actually went to our screening based on their exposure to either the physical or interactive promotions, we would create a marker for those in each group, and then at the day of the screening, we would tally how many from each group actually showed up to the screening and compare results.

I predict that interactive displays of promotional materials will grab more attention from more consumers, will create stronger memory/recall of the content being promoted, and will get more consumers to take the actions intended by the poster. I hope somebody in the future will take this study on and publish their results!