branding + ux design
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Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin

To support the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism’s long-form reporting on frac sand mining practices, I produced illustrations and animations to graphically explain the complex issue.

frac-cover-jacob-berchem.jpg
 

Frac Sand Mining in Wisconsin

Understanding a complex issue

Role —

  • Illustration
  • Animation

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.

wisconsinwatch.org

 
 
 

Idea

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.

 

Production

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.

 

Results

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.

 
 “Frac sand mining is not fracking.”

“Frac sand mining is not fracking.”

 “This whole thing happened insanely fast.”

“This whole thing happened insanely fast.”

 
 “Someday the mines will run out of sand. What will they leave behind?”

“Someday the mines will run out of sand. What will they leave behind?”

 “Digging up big tracts of land changes the landscape.”

“Digging up big tracts of land changes the landscape.”

 
 “People are worried about silicosis.”

“People are worried about silicosis.”

 “Nobody wants mining wastewater in the Mississippi (or houses or drinking water).”

“Nobody wants mining wastewater in the Mississippi (or houses or drinking water).”

 
 “Traffic is a drag. But not a terribly unsafe one.”

“Traffic is a drag. But not a terribly unsafe one.”

 “Who’s making bank? Unclear.”

“Who’s making bank? Unclear.”

 
 “Everyone wants the state to answer all their questions.”

“Everyone wants the state to answer all their questions.”

 “We’re hammering out some control issues.”

“We’re hammering out some control issues.”

 
 “Mines that don’t like the rules can (sometimes) get better ones.”

“Mines that don’t like the rules can (sometimes) get better ones.”

 “Whither the oil markets go, thither shall frac sand go too.”

“Whither the oil markets go, thither shall frac sand go too.”