[This is a guest post by Antonio Farach*, about the “3D World Cup Dataviz Ball” published by the Times of Oman]
128 pages in 1.6 seconds
Two simultaneous supplements, published in English (Times of Oman) and Arabic (Al Shabiba). Here a fast view of the 32 teams in both languages:
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
The very beginning
I started to think about this project on December, considering to do a graphic blanket, first with 100 spreads, then 25 and then later with 16:
Later I wanted one World Cup team in one page, featuring the squad’s key player illustration with a rectangular statistical matrix. The interactivity factor was in my mind from the beginning: I wanted to give the readers the opportunity to compare the squad’s matrices of one single World Cup group by cutting and putting together the pages.
That formula was perfect for me until was decided that the format needed to be changed from spreadsheet into tabloid. So I’d break the vertical single page into a tabloid double-page:
This design still worked for me (One page for the nation’s history in World Cups in the left page and the current squad’s statistics in the right), but not at all, the piece still lacked the desired hook!
The inception of the ball
How I’d found the ball shape was in some way lackadaisical. At the beginning I was looking for a 32-side volume and I found the icosidodecahedron, which is composed of pentagons and triangles but there are too much difference between those two shapes. Later I was looking the truncated dodecahedron, both the difference in size between both shapes, was higher.
Then I found the truncated icosahedron. It never crossed in my mind the idea of a football, I just wanted something that can match with the 32 teams of the tournament, something with 32 sides, so when I saw the truncated icosahedron I never expect that will have 32 sides! Was perfect! A 32-side polyhedron with regular sides and as well a football!!
Then, after that, the challenge was to discover how to assemble it. I was considering a ball in two paper parts —not in 32 parts as the final version was published— but was very unstable. So I started to look in the web for possible existing paper models. I found some very sophisticated ones and more based on the origami but I was looking for something easier for the readers to assemble, so was when I decide to create my own puzzle.
Creating the puzzle
There is a way to create this ball with 32 pyramids. The problem in paper modeling with the cones and pyramids is the tip, to handle properly the tip is very difficult —I remember all the headaches that I had in 8th grade with that— so I’d decide to cut the pyramids’ tips and turn them into truncated pyramids
That creates a hollow ball, mmm — I said to myself, interesting, like the hollow Earth theory!.
I decided the height (h) for each of the 32 frustums —Is how it’s called in geometry— based on two constrains, the first was the space in the page, because I was planning to include more information outside the cutting area; the second was that the higher the pyramid is, the lesser flexibility you have when you are pasting all the pieces together.
The first mock-up
I printed 32 generic templates that the team did cut and assembled. After I got all the 32 assembled frustums I proceeded to assemble the ball. At half way I discovered that better to assemble the ball in to two halves, two hollow hemispheres. With a few imperfections but acceptable, IT WORKS!
The Brazuca pattern
The pattern of the 2014 World Cup official ball, called Brazuca, was inspired by the Amazon River meanders.
The first was to superimpose and match the Brazuca pattern into the truncated icosahedron, starting from the conjunction of three Brazuca helices.
The difficulty to replicate the Brazuca path resides in the fact that is complementary —If you modify one figure, at the same time you are modifying the adjunct figure:
After many trial and error processes I found that I needed to define only three different faces to emulate the Brazuca look: two hexagons and one pentagon:
Positioning the 32 countries
Once the three basic faces of the ball were ready, the next step was to decide the position of each country. I found in the web several arrangements…
…But I chosen one that allow me to divide the 32 in groups of 4 teams, like the World cup groups:
I looked for assign hexagons to the most historical countries in World Cup because the hexagons are more dominant in size than pentagons but was impossible because there are a total of 12 hexagons and 20 pentagons in a fixed interposition: two hexagons connect always with one pentagon. That combination didn’t allow it. So at the end I placed the countries by group, that was my priority.
Numbers must be in each corner, that’s the main guide to the reader/player.
I tried many content and many chart styles for all the sides but for the lateral sides I decided for symmetrical Sankey diagrams because the totals can be broken out to the sides, so you can compare one country’s side with the opposite side of another country of the same group to know who is stronger.
I was stuck in the bases. I’d created a kind of parallel shapes in the bottom one but I was not happy with it, the evolution cannot be noticed…
…So I asked my mate Marcelo Duhalde for help me. In a couple of days he returned to me with the solution for the bottom base chart and a proposal for the upper base chart, two insane charts:
I applied it instantly.
Checking the size
Some calculations need to be done to be sure the ball will be in actual size and to check that the templates will fit in a tabloid page.
With the ball concept, new page design
With a truncated pyramid inserted in the history page I started to test many options. At the beginning I have the option to have a ball in actual size and also in a bit bigger scale, notice the size difference between the both green templates:
Later I decided to build around the pyramid template:
At the beginning I created the radial grid following parallel around the pyramid rotational center:
After many different chart style tests Marcelo Duhalde gave me the idea: scatter plot!
Page design evolution:
I had very high expectations about the databases so a created a very complex model to be filled in order to use that same database to produce additional graphics during the World Cup, like attendance history, local-visitor factor, etc. but later we discovered that was too ambitious and we didn’t have enough time, so we kept simpler databases. But still with less data the databases were huge. Marcelo Duhalde was assigned to study and produce the both main databases: The statistics for the past 19 World Cups and the 2014 qualifiers.
Collaboration of the whole design department!
World Cup was very close and the database still not finished, so the design director asked all the design team to come to work on weekend and all of them came! That weekend each designer was assigned with one country page (database+page). Was a good exercise for them and a good help for me:
And then they were 16:
Isidore Vic Carloman
In order to bust our production speed we did separate the work in production lines:
Lateral faces before being rotated and grouped:
We had too many discussions with Marcelo and the Design Director, Adonis Durado about the title for this face. At the end adonis came with the final title: “Appearances and phase progression”
The Three Amigos
During the last months this project has consumed most of the time of two magnificent journalist-designers, Marcelo “Chilean Jewel” Duhalde, the magician-visualizer from Osorno, Chile, also known as Barbazoom:
And Sreemanikandan Satheendranathan, the multi-disciplinary designer from Palakkad who evolved to a full infographic designer:
Once all the 32 double pages were finished, I printed it and with the big help of the real industrial designers, Amornsri Anutrakulchai (Amor) and Muthita Torteeka (Pan), cutting and assembling with a precision near perfect-grade, we got the first ball!
After Marcelo and I finished the instructions, Cio Datan came with his cameras to produce the video-instructions. So we needed another ball to be assembled during the shooting, again Amor and Pan! Thank you very much. And again Jay Cedro collaborated with the direction and edition of this video.
Once the English ball was done, with all of us very tired, we started to work in the Arabic one!
Both editors Khaled Taha and Ahmed Badawy translated in record time the whole project into Arabic. Ali Jani helped us to check one by one all the Arabic pages with an attention to detail that you do not see every day, thank you Ali!
Printing at last!
Here some reduced samples:
And finally, an additional inner ball to complete the whole set:
*Antonio Farach is the infographics diretor of award-winning newspaper Times of Oman. His work has been recognized by the Society for News Design several times since 2003, in the areas of Infographics and design, and you can follow him on Behance, NewsPageDesigner and LinkedIn.