Feb 18 2011Science Knows Where You Were Looking During 'There Will Be Blood'


Researchers with DIEM are working on a project "focused on understanding human vision during complex real-world scene perception"--which from what I can tell means they, like that wasted guy at the bar, want to know what the fuck you're looking at, asshole. As part of that research, they did a little experiment with Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood:

11 adult viewers were shown [a clip from the film] and their eye movements recorded using an Eyelink 1000 (SR Research) infra-red camera-based eyetracker. Each dot represents the center of one viewer's gaze. The size of each dot represents the length of time they have held fixation.

And now you, too, can play scientist with this video of their research. The expanding, Atari-style bomb circles mean you caught someone staring.

All male subjects in the study followed up the experiment by noting that they'd totally have been looking at a hot babe had there been one on-screen; they were just looking at dude-faces because that's all there was, man.

(via, via!)

Reader Comments

Cool, except that huge circle is probably somebody zoning out from the movie.

this is an awesome project. it really does show how scattery our perception is, and how quickly we process information and move on to the next portion of an image. but also how our eyes wander only to be refocused on a moving object. wish i thought of it.

on the practical side, this actually gives useful data on perception which could be used by a smart director and his actors.

...this is single-handedly perhaps the most worthwhile post on this blog...

It would be very interesting to see what happens when there's a lady on the screen.

Do people look at her face or her body? Do guys totally ignore the men on screen when there's a girl there?

Wow, so apparently i must be the only person who doesn't just scatter-mindedly blip from one area of a picture to another.
I was almost entirely focused on one major section of each scene throughout the clip, and to be honest, i cannot comprehend why these people were flashing more around light sources than the actors who were talking. Are you trying to absorb light for when you take a mental picture?

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yeah i didn't get some of it. people looking at the actors shoulders for long periods of time, or directly at the light pole for a long time.

Very cool. Now do Baywatch?

it just seems like that cause its hard for you to keep track of 11 fixations.
im sure there all pretty equally natural

As a fellow Call of Duty player, I can guarantee the eye movements of a group of us, versus the general public would be 2-3x as fast, and immediately center on anything that pops up, to assess the threat level....bird, hand, window for sniper, etc

God I'm a nerd...

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