Awareness Test

11 03 2008

The Transport For London has an online test that’s part of their campaign to ‘look out out for cyclists.” It’s a video of two teams of four basketball players passing a basketball around. You’re asked to count the number of passes that the team dressed in white makes.

I’ll let you go away and watch the video. Then, come back here for my point (which will be continued by clicking on the “Read The Rest of This Entry’ link below).

Click here for the video.


Well.. did you see the bear?The video makes a great point, one that I talk about all of the time in my introduction to editing classes. Much of what we do as filmmakers is direct the audience to pay attention to the details of the films that we want them to pay attention to. There are a number of ways we can do that — primarily with color, size and movement. This video uses all three. You’re told to pay attention to the white shirted players. They are all moving more visibly, because they’re shot in a darker frame and they stick out more. The dancing bear is all in black. So we’re not looking for that color.

They are also all of uniform height — shorter — and that helps us to focus.

We’re also distracted by so much movement that we must pay increased attention to the white shirted players.

As a result, we’re being trained not to look for anything that is tall and black — the bear.

In editing, we’re constantly making decisions to focus our audience’s attention. We want them to notice a suspicious look in the villain’s eye. We want them to see someone hide a jewel. We need the audience to see something down the hall that our hero doesn’t see. We use the very same tools that this commercial uses to distract us from the bear.

It’s simple filmmaking. And it’s always effective.

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