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PsychocinematicsExploring Cognition at the Movies$
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Arthur P. Shimamura

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199862139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199862139.001.0001

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Watching You Watch Movies: Using Eye Tracking to Inform Cognitive Film Theory

Watching You Watch Movies: Using Eye Tracking to Inform Cognitive Film Theory

Chapter:
(p.165) 9 Watching You Watch Movies: Using Eye Tracking to Inform Cognitive Film Theory
Source:
Psychocinematics
Author(s):

Tim J. Smith

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199862139.003.0009

How do we watch movies? Filmmakers have hypothesized about viewer behavior for decades and several aspects of film craft such as mise en scène, cinematography, staging, and editing are directly motivated by where viewers are expected to look. However, up until very recently there has been virtually no empirical investigation of viewer gaze behavior. In this chapter an approach to film cognition referred to as Cognitive Computational Cinematics (the CCC approach) is established. This approach combines empirical methods from cognitive psychology with computational methods for analyzing the audiovisual content of films. The CCC approach is used to establish why it is important to know where a viewer is looking and how this relates to their experience of a film. By reviewing eye movement behavior in static scenes and comparing it to dynamic scenes, the problems of predicting gaze behavior in films from traditional static presentations will be highlighted. The inclusion of motion leads to radically different viewing patterns including attentional synchrony, the spontaneous clustering of multiple viewers' gaze location. Analyzing cinematic features such as cuts, shot types, shot lengths and visual features the factors influencing where we look and how we shift our gaze over time will be identified. Finally, how little is currently known about narrative comprehension and viewing task during movie viewing is discussed. Eye tracking provides a powerful real-time measure of viewer cognition and the scope and impact of its application to questions of film theory has only just begun.

Keywords:   attention, eye movements, film theory, cognition, attention, perception, gaze, saccades

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