cutting on the action

photography and film – facts, ideas, values

FILM tracking gaze


…..why it is important to know where a viewer is looking and how this relates to their experience of a film.


Watching you watch There will Be Blood

David Bordwell Website, 14 Feb 2011

A guest blog in David Bordwell’s Website, by Tim Smith, a psychologist at Birkbeck, whose blog on film perception is Continuity Boy. Bordwell asked Tim to the eye-tracking for the film.

What eye tracking tells us about the way we watch films [The Conversation, 4 December 2013]

Very good graphics. Authors Sean Redmond and and Jodi Seta are part of the Melbourne-based Eye Tracking and the Moving Image Group studying film eye-tracking using the Tobii eye-tracking and Tobii software.

The word saccade came into my field of view during first year psychology, many decades ago, involving eye movement in reading research. In the intervening years eye-tracking has become massive as only a cursory Google will show. A considerable amount of that is about eye movements in poor readers, in particular dyslexics. It was shown saccades and fixations in dyslexics were different from normal readers.

The phenomenon had been noted in the 19c. (wiki: Eye movements in reading). With the development of eye-tracking devices, the saccade has become part and parcel of diagnosing and attempting to correct reading in dyslexia sufferers.( e.g. King-Devick Test ) The technology is now so sophisticated it will take account of head movements, rather than requiring the head to kept still during testing.

Saccadology is everywhere: a Google can leave you inundated – I recommend using Google image to work back to articles from pictures that interest you.

Saccade Control in Reading

Developmental psychology and eye tracking From the Tobii website.

There are a few links down below on how they are using eye tracking in other areas.

One of the most interesting and fascinating studies is eye tracking of static images. The picture above came from Tracking the Gaze : a post by Michael Neault which took it from another, Ways of Seeing, by Sasha Archibald in Cabinet Mag, who took the original study by Yarbus using the Russian artist Ilya Repin’s painting, An Unexpected Visitor [1884], superimposing the eye movements onto the painting that were displayed separately in the original research. How Do We See Art: An Eye-Tracker Study took saccades and fixations further by using abstract art.

I’d be interested to know if dyslexics’ eye movements when looking at art or movies are different from those of good readers.

A little experiment:

1. Art historian (e.g. Andrew Graham-Dixon) explains a painting with a story to tell.

2. Control: you look at the painting by yourself before he pops along to put you straight.

Compare eye movements traces. (And perhaps a third one after he’s gone away, to see if different 1 and 2)

See also

The eye’s mind

{1} Psychocinematics: Exploring Cognition at the Movies – ed. Arthur P. Shimamura

Title of 2013 book. Below it an abstract from David Bordwell’s contribution. I’ve found a 2012 Bordwell post with the same title: The Viewer’s Share: Models of Mind in Explaining Film, which has a mass of ref links for further study. It combines history of theory and how film-makers came to make films in the light practical experience.

Eye tracking – beyond the call of duty

These are eye tracking of webpages: combination of text and graphics. Do eyes move to images first?

BBC News Reading Eye tracking Study

Eye Tracking Demo

Eye Tracking Demo

Eyetracking video

EyeWorks Features and Capabilities
YouTube explaining what eye-tracking can be used for: scriptwriters start sharpening you pencils.

Hmm…note to myself

He’s typing a text into his mobile while driving (naughty) but his eyes are darting back and forward to the road and signs. We can see the saccades and fixations. Huh? How’s that. What’s going on here? Does he see what we see? Etc.

O.k., let’s cut to the quick it’s a sinister plot to embed them in the human eye. They see where you are and where you’re going [mobile phones, CCTV, NSA, GCHQ], know what you’re thinking {Google, Twitter, Amazon even], and now they’ll see what you are looking at (or been looking at…).

Is it possible to ruin a film that hasn’t even got a script yet? Yes. No, it’s o.k., we have yet to discover what they do in response to this further invasion into our lives. First someone has to find out they’re tracked. Then what do they do about it? (Well, all very apropos the surveillance state).

Tracker. The Movie. 3D. Just when you thought it was safe to loo……aaagh….what’s that in my eye?

And though what you write is copywrite, titles aren’t. So off you go. Think dodgy opticians and ophthalmologist. Pity Lawrence Oliver’s not around. We need him to do a Dr. Christian Szell (Marathon Man) de notre jour or just slightly into the future. But only ever so slightly.

January 27, 2014 Posted by | Alfred Yarbus, films - eye tracking, Ilya Repin, Tim Smith, Tobii eye-tracking technology | , , , , , , | Comments Off on FILM tracking gaze