Movies for a pandemic

February 2020

I posted this on the r/dataisbeautiful subreddit and it went a little crazy. It's topical, yes - but it's also an illustration of implicit vs. explicit data viz.

Pandemic movies we are watching again

The visualisation is called a bump chart and it plots film search data from Google Trends since the coronavirus struck.

Note it has no Y-axis and no explicit numbers. Instead it uses simple form and pattern to reveal insight.

Very simply, it tells a story.

(A guy in China replied with a list of all the pandemic and apocalyptic films he's watched since being in self-quarantine. There's so many I'd missed! But it confirmed the instinct to watch scary movies in scary times.)

This chart style forgoes the accuracy of explicit viz to focus our eyes instead on the story in the data - an implicit narrative.

It's a really useful approach in the BI practitioner's arsenal. Our job isn't just "hard numbers".

Making this visualisation

Data source: Google Trends. Note I used search data by film topic, not just keyword searches.

Google Trends limits you to comparing five search topics at a time. A good tip for building up more data (in my case multiple films) is to do sets of comparisons, and ensure a certain topic is common to each comparison.

This acts as a baseline for your data. (In my case I included World War Z in every comparison, plus four additional movie titles.)

Tools: and Adobe Photoshop