I designed a bunch of maps back in October for FRONTLINE: The Rise of ISIS. It’s free to watch online at the link. It got great reviews and I think is very much worth seeing, but a word of warning: this film contains some very graphic footage.
Mapping Arabic-speaking parts of the world turned out to be unexpectedly challenging: there are multiple ways to transliterate pretty much every place name, and good luck guessing which one your geolocation service has selected.
But there are perks to focusing on a region with such a long history. It was pretty cool finding ancient hand-drawn maps of Baghdad alongside OSM street data and satellite imagery.
I learned a ton about QGIS working on this, too. I’d never done much with raster map data before, so this was basically Baby’s First Hillshade. In hindsight, as much as I like the final look there were definitely things I should have built differently — I ended up with a super-wonky workflow for adding new city points and one map in particular with insanely long render times.
Let’s hope the upcoming GEOlayers plugin for After Effects smooths out a lot of that process.