The Planet of Sound

Saturnia is a command-line audiovisualizer named for its resemblance to the planet Saturn. The source code can be downloaded here as a zip file. Please read the README for instructions on how to run the program.

The video for saturnia shows the birth, life, and death of a fictional planetary body, told through audio and video.

In the beginning there was only gas and light, condensed in a central mass. Slowly, enough particles gained enough energy to break free and expand. As they spread, they interacted with their environment, vibrating and pulsing with the universe. The emerging planet has rings made of time (timeseries data), and an inner body made of spectra (frequency magnitude spectrum). Alas, the life of a planetary body is not infinite, and after a spectacular show, particles shrink, and disappear from sight.


Process: My initial concept for this visualizer was the sun, however, once I had visualized the time domain as a horizontal circle, I realized it was going in the direction of Saturn, and I had to go with it. However, it was mostly luck that it turned out looking so much like a planet. The swirls on the surface result from the drawing of the sphere out of circles, and becuase the spectrum's history is also visualized inside the sphere. I had hoped to add more functionality such as a spiraling time domain, or flares shooting out from the rings, or a texture on the surface of the planet taken from a real image, but time ran out, and I wanted to spend time on the audio narrative to really make it feel like a detached, drone-like, space. And the animation at the beginning and end naturally fell into place. Two of the audio sources are playback, and two are algorithmically generated in ChucK.