We've had books with pictures in them for hundreds of years. With modern computing powers we can move from static pictures in our PDF documents to dynamic animations and tell a more compelling and understandable story like in this Project Draco example (you may need to download it to see the animation in action and use Adobe Reader X or newer).
As we can see in the video above, there are things to consider when authoring a document with animated figures:
- readers should not be burdened with complex UI controls
- readers should not be distracted by the animation when reading text.
Of course there are other things to consider when creating animated figures:
- Duration: just like with a static figure, keep the animated figure short and concise
- File Size: keeping the animations short will reduce file size
- Number of Animated Figures: use them sparingly but where important to communicate
- Audio: sound can be included but can be very distracting so use only if necessary
In a work of entertainment, like a comic book, publishers may be more free with including animations. When publishing an academic paper or instructional document, beyond showing an animation, here are some of the best places to use an animated figure:
- Demonstrating How an Interaction Technique Works
- Illustrating Cause and Effect
- Contrasting Visual Differences
- Visualizing How an Algorithm Works
You can read more about this research and follow our instructions if you want to try it out. Happy publishing!