Infographics are visual illustrations communicating information by means of signs, symbols, icons, maps and diagrams. When these graphics are animated they can be used to represent complex situations and tell stories, or they can address social comment, satire and subversion. At their best, infographics in motion can be informative, involving, funny and at times surprisingly touching. This post brings together fourteen examples of these stunning animations.

1. Grand Tour of the Known Universe

This is a truly awesome infographic animation revealing the scale of the known universe in relation to our home planet. Astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History have mapped and constantly update and maintain the Digital Universe Atlas, a four-dimensional map of the cosmos, created using the latest scientific data. Based on this map, the movie takes the viewer on a mesmerising voyage from the Himalayas to the furthest reaches of known space and time, with every galaxy, star, planet, moon and satellite accurately scaled and positioned according to current knowledge.

2. The Crisis of Credit Visualized

In this animation the credit crunch is explained in simple steps with informative narration and crisp graphics. Jonathan Jarvis’ film does what the best Infographics can achieve: distil a complex situation and represent it in an accessible manner.

3. Growing Up

This charming animation considers the worries of growing up, and reassures that the wonders of growing and life’s surprises are really nothing to fear.

4. The History of the Internet

Melih Bilgil’s animated documentary succinctly explains the development of the Internet using clear PICOL (Pictorial Communication Language) icons. The graphics and narration explain the military, scientific and economic origins of the Internet and the evolution and architecture of information networks.

5. Oil Addiction

This film offers an overview of modern mankind’s addiction to oil, looking at the source of the fuel, the economics of its trade, and the social implications of dwindling supply and increasing prices. Chris Weller’s beautifully designed animations are juxtaposed with archive footage to explain the story.

6. A Day in the Life of NYTimes.com

These two videos show mobile and web activity on the New York Time’s website over 24 hours, compressed into a minute and a half of animation. In one video, a map represents USA; the other shows the entire world. Coloured circles represent web traffic on 25th June 2009, which happened to be the day that Michael Jackson died. The videos create a sense of the world gradually waking and working as the light intensity varies across the maps.

7. An Eye for an Eye

Ghandi stated that ‘an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind’, and this animation shows the effects of strike and counter strike in contemporary ‘asymmetrical’ warfare. The film uses infographics and retro computer game-style imagery and sound to tell the story of events since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York.

8. Little Red Riding Hood

Swedish designer Tomas Nilsson has created an animated movie retelling the tale of Little Red Riding Hood using the visual style of the infographic genre. The film is crammed with useful data boxes explaining such information as the price of a hunting outfit and a breakdown of the nutritional values of Grandmother.

9. Nuclear Weapons

This is a slightly alarming film on the subject of nuclear weapons. The graphics explain the distribution of the world’s atomic arsenal, and speculate on the effects of a nuclear attack in New York.

10. Tsunami Infographic

This short animation explains the natural phenomenon of Tsunamis. Despite the sombre subject matter, the graphics are entertaining and pleasingly drawn, and the film concludes that Tsunami detection systems should be in widespread use.

11. Airport

This animation tells the story of one man’s epic journey from bed to airport, the flight and touchdown, and onwards on his travels by bus and taxi. The film is created entirely from the symbols found within airport signage, and cleverly captures the experience of modern aviation travel using this visual language.

12. The Hidden Cost of War

In this animation, the economics of USA’s military adventures in Iraq are given the infographic treatment, with the calculations broken down into ten simple steps. The finances may have been simplified somewhat to cram into the film’s short length, but the graphics and the figures involved are simply dizzying.

13. It’s Time for Real

This beautifully crafted three-dimensional infographic animation uses a tabletop setting to explain the Canadian food market and encourage viewers to eat local produce.

14. Procrastination

John Kelly’s fantastic animation details the methods, perils and pleasures of procrastination, employing numerous visual techniques. The film itself offers the viewer four informative minutes of idle procrastination.