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That Scene Was Amazing!

Project Lead : Anmol Madan

Movie companies spend approximately $100 million per year, through a few market research companies, in evaluating movies before release (source: Film Journal International, March 2004). Most of this spending is in the form of focus group screenings and viewer surveys. Add to this the total spending on television commercials, and there is a huge market for being able to accurately predict audience interest and engagement.

As a collaboration with Dr. Carl Marci (Director of Social Neuroscience, MGH and HMS), we conducted experiments to measure physiology, speaking styles and body motion/head-nodding for movie audiences, during and after the screening. The results were quite interesting. The graph shows how two people watching a movie have similar physiological reactions to separate events in the movie. Also observed are long-term trends, which may even be related to lack of interest in the screening.

In an extension of this study, we showed people what we though were "funny", "boring" and "okay" television commercials. In the graph, people watching the "funny" MasterCard commercial, show a similar physiological (GSR) response roughtly at the same time, about 40 seconds into the commercial, when the suspense in unveiled.

The information from both studies above could be used to make better television commercials or edit movies before release.

For more information, refer to the "GroupMedia: Distributed Multimodal Interfaces" paper under Publications.