Vying for an audience’s limited attention
Fancy one of those stupid science stories that reduces years of study to a few, neat, easily digestible paragraphs? We’re happy to oblige.
A psychologist at Cornell University, has discovered that, in recent years, Hollywood has gotten much better at structuring its shots to conform to viewers’ limited attention spans.
In the 1990s, researchers from the University of Austin observed the attention spans of subjects as they performed a series of tasks. After monkeying around with Fourier Transforms, the boffins discerned that attention spans of a certain length occurred at regular intervals. (This is a bit vague, I know. But let’s not dumb it down too much.) This was dubbed I/F fluctuation.
The psychologist examined many films released between 1935 and the present day, concluding that the more recent the picture, the closer its shot length approximated the length required for I/F fluctuation. In other words, without entirely knowing what they’re doing, modern directors have been tailoring their films to fit our idiotic attention spans.
Lest you think, however, that the trick is simply to make the takes brief, the shrink explains that the technique involves ensuring that shots of a “similar length” occur at regular patterns throughout the film.
With a heavy heart, he announced that, despite being “just dreadful”, Star Wars Part III: Revenge of the Sith follows the pattern perfectly. Ho, hum.
Perfect timing: Revenge of the Sith