I was just about to ask a question concerning a certain 3D data-set (each point in space has a value associated), but couldn't figure out how to visualize it for you. I can understand it myself by rotating the point set in a Matlab figure, but it would be difficult to grasp from just seeing a screenshot:

(marker size and color are both proportional to the value at that point in space)

What's the best way of solving this problem?

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    $\begingroup$ Can you create an animated gif from the matlab plot at different angles? I do this in R with the animate() package. $\endgroup$ – Seth May 29 '12 at 22:21
  • $\begingroup$ I've spend some time looking at that, and there seems to be no easy solution for animating a gif. (But I did manage to segfault Matlab) $\endgroup$ – Anna May 29 '12 at 23:10

If you're comfortable with R, check the RGL library out. It has the ability to publish 3d figures to webgl, making them available on modern browsers on the web.

Once you've opened up a R session:


People say it is possible to embed a manipulable 3D object in PDF; however this requires some luck, original Acrobat Reader and some magic to do the export itself. However Matlab central has a chunk of code which may do the trick.

The stupid (from a security and usability points of view) but usually working idea is to make a VNC desktop, run Matlab and make plot on it, finally allow the viewer to attach this session and play with the plot.

The even more stupid idea is to just post the dataset and code which makes the plot.

  • $\begingroup$ Your second suggestion would be a terrible solution for posting a SE question concerning the dataset :) $\endgroup$ – Anna May 29 '12 at 23:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Anna Ok, I have added something more feasible in such case. $\endgroup$ – user88 May 29 '12 at 23:32

Use Matlab to produce a series of 20 or 30 images from slightly different perspectives, named in the order you want them to be shown. Then you can use a package like ImageMagick to turn those images into an animated gif.

The R animation library does this from within R (in conjunction with ImageMagick or similar), but if you don't want to use R there is no reason why you can't create the images yourself and then manually turn them into the animated gif.

I've only ever done this from within R but from what I see of ImageMagick it could almost certainly do this for you.

  • $\begingroup$ (+1) This is basically what I did here. $\endgroup$ – chl May 30 '12 at 18:55

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