Author Archives: Dan Klemonski

Enhancing the Aesthetics of a GIS Map

Professor Lopez-Barrera of the Architectural Studies Program proposed this project for the summer of 2017. It entailed editing a map depicting the social and spatial transformations of rural communities in western Uruguay between 2000 and 2016. The purpose of this project was both aesthetic and practical, as its goal was to make the map more visually appealing and the changes observed in the research more apparent. To that end, I used Adobe Illustrator software. This project was challenging in large part because its goal was very subjective, and there were many ways I could have gone about fulfilling it. Though I paid careful attention to components of the map such as object size and transparency, my main focus for this project was on color. The map essentially included 27 layers on top of an aerial image, and the map features divided into roughly three categories, and again into two time periods. Thus, I had to select color schemes that would convey a layer’s category, and at the same time show whether it referred to the year 2003 or 2015. For example, I assigned “cooler” colors like greens (“housing”) and blues (“infrastructure”) to layers pertaining to the year 2003. I also later designed and added a key to the map in order to communicate the scheme I had devised.

This project was unlike any others I’d worked on in the summer of 2017, due to its emphasis on rather inexact qualities like appearance and readability. This made effective communication critical for the project’s success, as there wasn’t a clear set of instructions at the start.

Recorded Video Digitization

connector cables
Google video camera connection cables. This is what you’ll get…YIKES.

Professor Feldman of the Spanish Department proposed this project for the summer of 2017. It had the very simple goal of digitizing six videos, though in practice this proved much more difficult than I had anticipated. The videos, which mostly centered on interviews with a now-passed Jorge Ruiz, were recorded on the analog tapes of an old (and, it seems, technologically unsupported) video camera. I initially, though unsuccessfully, attempted to transfer the videos using a USB connection. I proceeded to search for the appropriate DV cable, which involved a trip down to the basement of the library I didn’t even know existed. The DV cable too presented issues, as its other end was a FireWire connector, and as few available devices had FireWire ports. One such device was an external hard drive, though neither the video camera nor the drive could initiate a transfer of the information encoded on the analog tapes. The ultimate solution was a DV-to-FireWire-to-Thunderbolt setup, which then allowed iMovie software to capture the videos as they were played from the video camera.

Perhaps more so than any other project of mine in the summer of 2017, this one demanded a considerable amount of troubleshooting. It also had me contend with several dead ends in my quest to free the videos from their analog prison, though it imparted no insincere appreciation for the ease and versatility of digital file transfer.