Gaze Differences Between Analogue and Digital Cinema Screening


  • Ina Ferlan University of Ljubljana



Within the realm of cinema, the question of analogue or digital approach evokes divided opinions. Prior research mainly deals with the psychological aspects, and it has been found that analogue screening methods elicited stronger emotional responses [1]. The current study will focus on the physiological perspective of one of the significant distinctions between the two methods, the judder, a visually unpleasant effect generated by difference in frame rates, more evident in digital screening. It appears as a non-smooth, jagged motion depicting the trajectory of horizontal camera movement. The issue will be addressed empirically by investigating viewers´ eye-movements. It has been found that while viewing a moving stimulus, the involuntary eye movement - optokinetic response, is induced in order to provide a stabilized, clear image and consists of alternating longer (slower) eye gazes following the direction of the moving stimuli and shorter (faster) saccades directed backwards [2]. The current study aims to find whether the length of saccadic movements within the optokinetic response varies depending on the type of screening.


The study will be conducted in a cinema with a professional analogue (35 mm) and digital (DCP) projector for both types of screening. The selection of film clips (stimuli) will be limited to the footage that exists in both forms - analogue and digitalized. A set of mobile eye-tracker glasses will be used to collect data on physiological metrics. The participants will be divided into two groups, each group will be presented one (analogue or digitalized) version of the stimuli. Each participant will be viewing stimuli individually, from the same seat, located in the middle of a hall.

Expected Results and Implications

The aim of the study is to find a statistically significant difference in lengths of saccadic movements during the optokinetic response, with digital viewing expected to result in shorter saccades and hence more frequent eye movements, which would shed light on arguments regarding the digital screening being more tiring (and less pleasant) to the human eye. The expected results will hopefully provide some more insight on how visual perception varies according to different media and broaden the scope of free viewing research, specifically the complex interactions between moving images and the gaze.


[1] M. Loertscher et al., "As film goes byte: The change from analog to digital film perception.", Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 458-471, 2016, doi: 10.1037/aca0000082.


[2] S. Huber-Reggi, K. Mueller and S. Neuhauss, "Analysis of Optokinetic Response in Zebrafish by Computer-Based Eye Tracking", Methods in Molecular Biology, pp. 139-160, 2012. Available: 10.1007/978-1-62703-080-9_10.