Adventures in Machine Learning

Mastering Advanced Techniques for Animating Plots with Matplotlib

Visual representation of data has become an essential part of data analysis and presentation. One of the most popular libraries for creating visualizations in Python is Matplotlib.

The library not only provides routine plotting features but also has an extensive Animation framework for constructing animated data visualizations. This article will provide an overview of creating animated plots using Matplotlib.

The primary focus will be to provide the readers with an intuitive understanding of the key concepts involved in the animation process.

Creating Animated Plots with Matplotlib

The process of creating animated plots with Matplotlib typically starts with importing the necessary modules. The most commonly used modules are NumPy, Matplotlib, matplotlib.animation, random, count, and display.

Once the required modules are imported, you can create a dataset for the animated plots in Python. Generating a dataset involves defining two sets of coordinates, the x-coordinates, and the y-coordinates.

The dataset can be generated using the random module from Pythons standard library. The random module allows users to generate random numbers to simulate real-world values.

You can then plot the dataset using Matplotlib.

Creating the Animation Object

To create an animation object, we use the FuncAnimation method, which requires the plot function and interval parameters. The plot function takes the dataset generated earlier and returns the plot or animation object for that frame.

Interval is set to the number of milliseconds between each frame of the animation.

Converting the Animated Plot to HTML Video (For Jupyter Notebook Users)

For Jupyter Notebook users, the animation can be converted to an HTML video by using the to_html5_video() function, and the resulting video can be embedded in the notebook. This allows the users to generate videos that can be easily shared with others.

Plotting an Animated Sin Wave Plot

The simplest animated plot example is plotting an animated sine wave. In this type of plot, the sin function generates the dataset.

A loop iterates through the different time points, and the plot is updated using Matplotlibs set_data() method.

Plotting Both Sine and Cosine on the Same Animated Plot

Another example of creating animated plots is plotting both a sine and cosine function on the same plot. In this example, the sine and cosine functions are generated using numpy, and the plot is updated using the same set_data() method as in the previous example.

To improve the visibility of the functions, a dark background is used.

Animating Basic Plots

Basic plots such as bar plots, line plots, and scatter plots can also be animated using Matplotlib. The process of animation for basic plots involves defining a function that updates the plot data at each frame using Matplotlibs set_data() method.

Animating Line Plots

Animating line plots is similar to animating a basic plot. However, to avoid the flickering effect, it is recommended to use Matplotlibs blit parameter.

The blit parameter tells Matplotlib to only re-draw the parts of the plots that have changed instead of redrawing the entire plot.

Animating Scatter Plots

Animating scatter plots involves repeatedly updating the position of the scatter points. In this case, the position data can be generated using numpys random function.

Animating Histograms and Bar Plots

Animating histograms and bar plots involve continuously updating the heights of the bar and histogram elements. In this case, define a function that updates the height parameters of the bar and histogram data.

Animating Subplots

Animating subplots in Matplotlib involves creating individual animations for each subplot and then combining them into a larger figure. In this case, combine the individual animations using Matplotlibs subplot function.

Animating 3D Plots

Animating 3D plots with Matplotlib requires plotting the data in a 3D coordinate system. In this example, use Matplotlibs mplot3d toolkit, which provides 3D surface plots, wireframe plots, and scatterplots.


Animated plots offer a powerful way to represent data and convey complex relationships and trends. Matplotlib is an essential tool for creating data visualizations, including animated plots.

By following the concepts presented in this article, one can quickly get up and running to create engaging animated plots.

Advanced Techniques for Animating Plots

Animating data visualizations provides a powerful tool for data analysts to communicate complex trends, patterns, and relationships within the data. Matplotlib has been a widely used tool for creating animated plots in Python.

In this article, we will cover advanced techniques for animating plots using Matplotlib.

Customizing Animations with FuncAnimation

The FuncAnimation method allows users to customize animations by defining additional parameters such as frames, init_func, fargs, and save_count. The frame parameter specifies the number of frames for the animation, the init_func parameter defines the initialization function, and fargs is a tuple of arguments to pass to the function.

The save_count parameter sets the number of frames to cache before writing to disk. This helps avoid memory-related issues while generating large animations.

Using Blitting for Smooth Animations

Blitting is an optimization technique that generates animations by only redrawing the parts of the plot that have changed, instead of redrawing the entire plot. This improves performance and helps in creating smooth animations.

To use Blitting, you need to set the blit parameter to True for the animation object. One thing to keep in mind while using Blitting is that the method is not always compatible with all backends.

However, for those backends that support it, blitting can offer significant performance gains.

Animating Multiple Lines on One Plot

Animating multiple lines on one plot involves updating the data for each line and can be achieved using a loop that iterates over each line. The trick to optimizing this process is to use the .set_data() method to update the data, which ensures that the previous frame’s data is not erased.

Using InterpolatedUnivariateSpline to Smooth Line Animations

InterpolatedUnivariateSpline is a tool that can be used to smooth line animations and generate consistent animations even with noisy data. The tool works by smoothing the data points using spline interpolation.

It is important to ensure that the data is well sampled before using this method.

Animating a Heat Map with Matplotlib

Heat maps are commonly used to represent data in which the values are represented by color. They can be used to display a wide range of data, such as geographical data, weather data, and population data.

Animating a heat map with Matplotlib involves updating the color values of the cells for each frame. The color update can be done using Matplotlibs set_array() method.


Animating plots using Matplotlib is a powerful technique that can help convey complex trends, patterns, and relationships within data. By using more advanced techniques such as blitting, customizing animations, incorporating spline interpolation, and animating heat maps, data analysts can generate compelling visualizations that can be used to communicate with a wider audience.

By mastering these techniques, data analysts can unlock new insights from their data and communicate them in a more engaging way. In summary, this article provides an overview of advanced techniques for animating plots using Matplotlib.

It discusses the customization of animations using FuncAnimation, implementing blitting for smooth animations, animating multiple lines on one plot, using InterpolatedUnivariateSpline to smooth line animations, and animating heat maps. It is important for data analysts to master advanced animation techniques to effectively communicate complex data trends.

By utilizing these tools, data analysts can unlock new insights from their data and communicate them in a more engaging way.