Video: How Our Eyes Move While Watching A Movie

When we sit back to watch a movie, we rarely think of the mechanics behind it. You plop down, sip a soda, munch some popcorn and keep your eyes forward. That might seem like all that’s going on but your brain, and particularly your eyes, are getting a workout of epic proportions. Those peepers are constantly darting around, exploring the frame and trying to process what they’re seeing, how it moves and so much more. Wouldn’t it be cool to watch some sort of video that gave a visual representation of how people’s eyes move around when they’re watching a movie? Look no further than below the jump.

This amazing video comes courtesy of David Bordwell’s Website on Cinema, which provides an incredibly in-depth dissection of how and why the human eye moves during watching a movie. But first, it’s probably best to just watch the clip, which is from Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood and tracks 11 sets of eyes during a clip from the film. As the circles get bigger, that means the person’s eye is staying put. (Thanks to Gizmodo for the heads up).

There Will Be Blood with gaze locations of 11 viewers from TheDIEMProject on Vimeo.

The possible applications of this kind of information are almost endless. It gives a great idea of how and why viewers regularly miss continuity errors just based on where they’re placed in the frame. Plus, it shows how filmmakers can reveal information and characters without editing, just by staging and framing. For example, in the above clip, watch how all the sets of eyes immediately jump on HW and Fletcher, played by Dillon Freasier and Ciarán Hinds, as they’re revealed in the frame. It’s almost like you can hear the eyes say “Oh, wow! New information!” as they dart around. The same can be said for the end of the clip when the car eventually appears in the desert.

If you want to know more about this clip and the studies behind it, head over to Bordwell’s site as well as The DIEM Project who created it.

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