Have you seen the movie Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus? It’s got a whooping rating of 3.0 out of 10 at the IMDB-website. It’s a strange movie wherein we meet two deep sea monsters from prehistoric times thawing from a glacier. And one of them – Mega Shark can’t even stay in the water: In one of the more dramatic cuts we see the big shark jump out of the water and up towards the sky to bite an airplane.
The movie has some avid fans though – and now it has an infographic too. Stephen Taubman created the ‘Uncovering the Secrets of Mega Shark’, where he gives his best to explain just how fast the Mega Shark has to travel to catch that plane. Everything fine so far. Nothing wrong with some humor.
But wait – the funny facts aren’t correct. For one thing they are made up from guesses and secondly the physics involved is greatly simplified because Stephen isn’t too hot with advanced formulas. Even worse – visuals and numbers don’t correspond. A common mistake for graphic artists is to mix area or volume with one-dimensional calculations. So the length of the shark is roughly doubled from 19 to 40 meters and so is the weight from 103 to 240 tons. But weight (volume) should at least be 2x2x2=8 times.
Have another look at that shark attacking a 70 m long jumbojet again. How can Stephen make the guess that the shark is only 40 meters?
I realize it’s meant for fun, but nevertheless I fear infographics like these – made for a quick laugh and with no real effort with the facts or the visuals except for making it look pretty – will slowly destroy the very infographic credibility which it is clearly leaning itself upon. One of these won’t do any harm, but have a look at the massive amount of infographics made for web these days. Some of them almost go viral and people just love to tweet, digg etc them, so they spread out a lot.
Back to the movie – it seems a diet of airplanes is quite nutritious. Later on the Mega Shark bites the Golden Gate Bridge in half. The bridge is 27 meters across, so now the shark will easily be 250 meters long in this shot. But that goof is with the filmmakers and not with the infographics. So B-filmmakers don’t care – but I hope infographic artists will.
Oh – and be a bit careful with the shark attack possibility in your graphics the next time a plane disappears over the ocean. I didn’t see any in the AF447 gallery, and probably for the best.