We all know the hard work that filmmakers and actors put in to provide us with entertainment, but it seems that even regular moviegoers like us have a big impact on how a movie turns out too.
For decades now, film studios have used so-called test screenings to get feedback from members of the public before a movie comes out.
While test audience members are usually asked to fill in a questionnaire after a screening, telling the film studio what they liked and didn’t like, media giant Disney has come up with a more high-tech solution.
According to a paper published this summer by the company’s researchers, Disney is measuring test audiences’ reactions by using special cameras placed inside cinemas.
Pairing the cameras with custom software, the company can track what each audience member is feeling at any point in the movie, from anger to joy.
This works by mapping 68 different points on each audience member’s face. The cameras can see in the dark, and the software can figure out a person’s mood based on the slightest of facial expressions.
It’s hoped that this new method will allow more detailed feedback from test audiences. Rather than relying on audience members to recall their feelings after the movie’s over, it can accurately read their reactions in real-time.
Test screenings are highly valued in the movie industry, and several well-known movies have been greatly altered following feedback.
Viewers of E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) would have left the cinema feeling a whole lot differently if it weren’t for its test audience’s feedback.
“In one cut of the film that was tested, E.T. died instead of going home in his spaceship. You won’t be surprised to hear that the test audience in question didn’t warm to this ending at all,” wrote media website Den of Geek.
“在该影片的试映片段中，E.T.最终去世了，并没有坐着宇宙飞船回家。你会毫不意外地发现，讨论电影的试映观众们一点都不喜欢这个结局。”媒体网站Den of Geek写道。
But for those who are concerned about privacy, the cameras won’t be installed in public cinemas.
After all, unless you’re part of a test audience, being in front of the camera is best left to the movie stars.