Did you cry in the cinema?

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Disney wants to know exactly when the audience is crying and laughing. To this end, the group has now developed a type of scanner that reads faces in the cinema.

To learn more about the reactions and emotions of the film audience, Disney has had a program developed: Factorized Variational Autoencoders for Modeling Audience Reactions (FVAE). To this end, the group has built a 400-seat cinema, equipped with infrared cameras to film the audience while they are watching films.

"If everyone yawns after five minutes, the story doesn't seem to be that compelling."
Anna Wollner, Deutschlandfunk Nova film expert

The cameras record 68 markers on the face of each viewer. In total, they took 16 million pictures of facial expressions. The program then deciphered the emotional reactions of the faces: whether people were laughing, crying or being frightened. And then Disney had algorithms developed that recognize the facial expressions of the audience.

The aim is to make the films even better. Based on the detailed analysis, the filmmakers can now see exactly whether their planned film moments will work or not

"It is an artificial intelligence that can recognize human behavior and also predict it."
Anna Wollner, Deutschlandfunk Nova film expert

The tests are done on pre-releases. Subsequently, changes can be made to the films so that the film then ignites better in the cinema.

Test screenings have always existed. So far, viewers have simply been asked for their opinion, with questionnaires and in discussion groups. But such an artificial intelligence can of course measure the reactions much more precisely and to the second.

"It's just Hollywood. They are out for the greatest possible profit, that is, for the greatest possible success, and for that they need the largest possible target group."
Anna Wollner, Deutschlandfunk Nova film expert