Assessing Interest an Emotional Valence in Full-scripted Films

Jose Canas Bajo

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractScientificpeer-review


The history of cinema has been driven by the technological advances that made it possible since its origins (Wood, 2008). Nowadays these technological advances have provided audiovisual products with easy access to global audiences and the possibility to spread its message globally. Therefore, film companies struggle to reach good selling not only in their local market but also in foreign countries. However, presently there is not enough understanding of the factors that influence the reception and the experience of the audience. Narrative and aesthetic elements are used to attract the attention and interest of the audience and it is critical to understand how to use them. Empirical studies have used different approaches. Hence, they have studied the audiovisual structure (distribution of frames, duration of planes, sound, etc.) (Redfern, 2014), cognitive factors (attention, perception, etc.) and emotions (empathy, interest, etc.) (Tan, 1996), but very few studies have explored how different international audiences react to them. For that reason, understanding what are the cultural differences of the audiences is becoming of great importance In the present study, a methodological approach that combines quantitative and qualitative data is used to compare the emotional experiences of Spanish and Finnish audiences to three culturally loaded films. The quantitative part of the method involves an online voting system that can be used to capture and measure the experiences of different target audiences while watching movies of different lengths, while the qualitative method involves content analyses of qualitative responses of viewers to different aspects of the films (SEE Cañas-Bajo et al., submitted). Participants were asked to press a key when they considered some aspect of the film interesting and they were to signal the emotional valence of the scene. With this, we were able to select the more interesting sequences of each film and to assess their emotional valence. Thus, reactions of people from different cultural and social backgrounds was captured on-line while watching the film. Results of the study indicated that, although the two audiences had overall similar reactions, some subtle differences could be observed. The results are discussed in terms of the importance of introducing cultural factors in film studies and theories (Barrat, 2012; Cleveland et al., 2009) Comparisons between culturally different audiences might be critical for video and film companies, since audio-visual products constitute, the third largest domains of cultural goods exchanges in the world. The results also suggest that methods that combine qualitative and quantitative on-line approaches to assess audiences’ experiences of the films might be useful to unravel the effect of these factors. Some application and future lines of research are also discussed. The present study is a part of a larger project within the Department of Film, Television and Scenography at Aalto University. The project focus on creating a production and audiences research for the benefit of the Finnish Film Industry improving their results on international selling.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2018
MoE publication typeNot Eligible


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