How Film Makers are Helping Neuroscience.

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Neuroscientists and Cognitive Psychologists got together with Film makers to show what they have learned about the mechanisms of attention and perception.

In my last year of studying for my degree, I had to write a so many thousand word essay. The Thesis was based on how much influence does advertising and film have on a person. I wrote about colour psychology and neuro linguistic programming as I needed applications to support my Thesis. If I remember rightly I had come to a dead end in my conclusion, as I believe the subject matter needed other scientific applications that were beyond my student loan budget. 

Well at recent event hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, cognitive psychologists,film makers and neuroscientists pulled together their resources and explained what they have learned about mechanisms of attention and perception.

Jon Favreau (Director of Iron Man) along side Tim Smith, (a vision scientist at the University of London) presented a clip from the race car sequence in Iron Man 2. As the clip was playing, a camera was capturing data from 75 people. The data showed how their eyes reacted to the clip that was presented before them. The camera tracked the eye movement of all 75 people and software generated a frame by frame heat map which was then over layed onto the repeated clip. The results showed the audience how their brain reacted to the sequence that was presented before them. 


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As shown in the image above, The red spot showed the audience where the highest concentration of focus was on the screen. Jon Favreau then explained that most of the audience were focusing on real elements of the scene and that the results help film makers in how to integrate visual effects into a scene.

 "We're constantly calculating where we think the audience's eye is going to be, and how to attract it to that area and prioritise within a shot what you can fake," Favreau said. "The best visual effects tool is the brains of the audience, they will stitch things together so they make sense."

Tim Smith then went on to explain that while film makers understand visual perception and attention, it was the scientists aim to learn more about the mechanistic level of the process. Such as how the brain constructs fluid perception and that more involvement with film makers will help to learn about this process. 

It is a fascinating study on the relationship between humans and the media and not something you would usually think about when tuning into your latest episode of X-factor and the constant bombardment of advertising. Next time you switch on maybe have a think about where you are looking, try to direct your eyes somewhere you wouldn't think to look, I find the legals at the bottom of an advert is usually a good place to look.