Talks: Animating NFL play-by-play data using matplotlib's FuncAnimation()

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Most of us have heard the saying, "A picture is worth a thousand words," but a movie builds context and a story, especially when conveying data! Data animations allow us to share more information and are far more engaging than static plots.

In this talk, I will discuss the importance of animation in analysis and show how to create data animations using play-by-play RFID data from the 2018 NFL season.

Within data science, we often use graphical representations of data to convey our analysis engagingly and succinctly. However, a static image does not always do justice to our findings and sometimes can miss important concepts entirely. When we introduce animation, we can show how location, statistics, etc., can change over time. Using this NFL play-by-play data, I will show how to take a static data plot and transform it into an animation using the matplotlib module.

By the end of this talk, you will know what data animation is, how it works for matplotlib using FuncAnimation(), how to animate plots successfully using defined functions in conjunction with your iterative function, and how animation can improve your analysis.