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Thread: Movie Mapping: What are some great uses of maps/GIS on the big or small screen?

  1. #1
    Jan 2010
    St. Louis, MO

    Movie Mapping: What are some great uses of maps/GIS on the big or small screen?

    I originally posted this question to AskMetaFilter. While there are a ton of very skilled folks there, I suspect that this question was a bit too specialized for them. I searched for an appropriate forum, and came across this site. I've been really edified and excited to read the many thoughtful discussions y'all have had. Thank you for that.

    Anyway, a question that I hope you find interesting or worthy of discussion:
    Imagine you're watching a documentary film about a medium/large U.S. city that you've heard of but never been to. What are some examples (from film, TV news, nature documentaries, etc.) of ways you'd like on-screen mapping imagery to clue you in to the spatial relationships that connect the issues addressed? Maps will be used to illustrate proximity, and will sometimes employ data overlay (point, line, and polygon).

    Not AGAINST ultra-sleek, high-tech, bleeding-edge spy-thriller-style graphics... but am prioritizing "easy-to-understand" and "appropriate" above all other considerations. The final product would be for a non-specialist (but fairly learned) audience. For bonus points: the film has a mid-century-modernist theme; would love to see examples of map imagery that takes cues from or pays homage to "high modernism".

    (A lifetime ago I worked as a GIS tech; so don't be afraid to speak the lingo. Many thanks for your help, and please feel free to ask any questions that may help clarify.)

  2. #2
    Cyburbian JimPlans's avatar
    Aug 2006
    Gone to a better place (in my mind)
    The first one that I was aware of was in "The District," a crime show in the early 2000's based in Washington, DC. ESRI was very involved in setting up the COMSTAT system for the show, and GIS analysis of crime was often important to the plot.


    There is a lot of mapping and analysis on "Numbers," though it is not specifically GIS-related.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian WhenIGrowUp's avatar
    Dec 2006
    "The District" was the first thing I thought of, too. Craig T. Nelson was the chief on the show.

    Fringe sometimes uses mapping data to establish patterns of events. I can't say it's ESRI/Arc-specific, though.
    "We are not going to have public meetings to review architecture. Public input ruins the idea of professional review." -Design Review Committee Chairman, 11/04/09

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
    Aug 2001
    South Milwaukee
    I think I posted this before... In (possibly season 1) of West Wing, CJ has to meet with a PAC called Cartographers for Social Justice - or something like that. They give a PowerPoint about why the Mercater Projection is euro-centric. They invert the world map and she exclaims, "YOU CAN'T DO THAT!". They ask why not and she replies "CUS YER FREAKIN' ME OUT!"

  5. #5
    Cyburbian estromberg's avatar
    Jul 2007
    Northern Illinois
    The first one that comes to mind for me is "Enemy of the State." The NSA has some really neat hardware and software capabilities.

  6. #6

    May 2007
    Athens, Georgia

    New and Old

    "January Man" - Kevin Klein, Susan Sarandon, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and Alan "Dreamboat" Rickman as the computer geek - use computer mapping to discover where the killer will strike next. We're talking a movie made in 1989.

    On t.v. now - NCIS Los Angeles uses Pictometry and other mapping features quite effectively.

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