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Reporting graphics

Monica Ulmanu listens to former cotton farmer Cliff Etheredge explaining about windmills. Photo by Nacho Corbella

Be proactive. This is what I have learned in my Infographics class last semester. Go out, take pictures, talk to people, record sounds, take notes, draw sketches, ask questions. This is what reporters do for their stories. What about graphics? YES. Be proactive.

My next graphic on the list involves creating a 3D model of a windmill, explaining how it works, what are the main components, how they have changed in time etc. One can argue that there is no need to take a trip to Texas, to the community my colleagues are reporting about, just to make a 3D model of a wind turbine. But I can come up with several points that argue in favor of getting that experience.

- There are dozens of models of wind turbines, several sizes and unconventional styles. Which one to recreate? Since my graphic is complementary to a video story, doesn't it make sense to study the model featured in the story?

- For an accurate graphic and high aesthetics, I prefer to create textures for objects and backgrounds in Maya using photos of those particular objects rather than textures I can find in online libraries.

- At the spot you can meet with specialists and use the information they are providing to explain processes. They can give a fresh perspective and interesting hints.

- I find it always rewarding to record audio and add it to the graphic. For example, the sound of a wind turbine.

- It is useful to take photos of the surroundings or to capture unusual perspectives and add them to the graphic. Unfortunately, you need training and many approvals to climb into a wind turbine.

"Information graphics can be fantastic click magnets." (Mindy McAdams)