Animated Versus Static Views of Steady Flow Patterns

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

Proceedings of the ACM Symposium on Applied Perception


Two experiments were conducted to test the hypothesis that animated representations of vector fields are more effective than common static representations even for steady flow. We compared four flow visualization methods: animated streamlets, animated orthogonal line segments (where short lines were elongated orthogonal to the flow direction but animated in the direction of flow), static equally spaced streamlines, and static arrow grids. The first experiment involved a pattern detection task in which the participant searched for an anomalous flow pattern in a field of similar patterns. The results showed that both the animation methods produced more accurate and faster responses. The second experiment involved mentally tracing an advection path from a central dot in the flow field and marking where the path would cross the boundary of a surrounding circle. For this task the animated streamlets resulted in better performance than the other methods, but the animated orthogonal particles resulted in the worst performance. We conclude with recommendations for the representation of steady flow patterns.


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