Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin
Understanding a complex issue
The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism is increasing the quality and quantity of investigative reporting in Wisconsin, while fostering an informed citizenry and strengthening democracy. To support their long-form reporting on frac sand mining practices, I produced illustrations and animations to graphically explain this complex issue.
The Center approached me, interested in distilling this information into a more accessible format. Their original idea was to create a small information graphic with small, quippy illustrations. I challenged them to rethink their usual approach (long-form reports and information graphics.) My idea: let sand tell its own story. Use actual sand to illustrate a handful of points, and make it easy to share.
Once we had our idea, a script and an initial series of rough illustrations, I started production. For one long night, hunched over a well-lit workspace with nothing but a camera and sand, I completed all the animations. For touch-ups and building sequences, I used Photoshop, and created the video with Final Cut Pro. More details on the production are shared in this podcast.
The response to the project has been strong. Mining industry representatives and environmental activists were surprised by the project. Feedback from both groups is included in this article. At the annual Milwaukee Press Club awards, the Center took home a Gold in "Best Use of Multimedia" for this project.