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Although this project is primarily aimed at tools for searching and reading textual content, software developers have increasing options to easily develop high-quality graphical applications. The program described here is written in the graphical environment Processing, but Adobe Flash or Microsoft’s Silverlight can be used for similar purposes.

I imagine applying techniques such as this to create algorithmic, generative book trailers, that exploit words in the text or use imagery derived from the web.

These two examples are the same program, threewords, running the text of Pride and Prejudice. Each time it displays a word, it records the frequency of that word. As terms appear more and more often, they zoom towards the viewer. Common words such as “the” are excluded. It would be possible to collapse all forms of a word to its common stem (the Xapian search engine used by threepress has stemming capability), but this version does not stem.

The first movie is of the initial four chapters, run at a readable speed:

The second is of the entire text, at 16X speed (2 minutes in length):

However, the application looks best when run locally. Processing exports standalone versions for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. Source code is included in the application folders.

Look for more text-based movies in the coming months.

Tags: Processing, textual analysis,

3 Responses to “Making movies out of words”

  1. katre

    a) That’s pretty cool.
    b) You must read faster than me if the first one is at a readable speed.


  1.  From the vault: making movies out of words : Threepress Consulting blog