The intention of most film editing is to create the impression of continuity by editing together discontinuous viewpoints. The continuity editing rules are well established yet there exists an incomplete understanding of their cognitive foundations. This article presents the Attentional Theory of Cinematic Continuity (AToCC), which identifies the critical role visual attention plays in the perception of continuity across cuts and demonstrates how perceptual expectations can be matched across cuts without the need for a coherent representation of the depicted space. The theory explains several key elements of the continuity editing style including match-action, matchedexit/entrances, shot/reverse-shot, the 180° rule, and point-of-view editing. AToCC formalizes insights about viewer cognition that have been latent in the filmmaking community for nearly a century and demonstrates how much vision science in general can learn from film.
Tim J. Smith
How Sound Design, Dialogue, Event Structure, and Viewer Working Memory Interact in the Comprehension of Touch of Evil (1958)
John P. Hutson, Joseph P. Magliano, Tim J. Smith, and Lester C. Loschky
This study tested the role of the audio soundtrack in the opening scene of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil (Orson Welles and Albert Zugsmith, ) in supporting a predictive inference that a time bomb will explode, as the filmmakers intended. We designed two experiments and interpreted their results using the Scene Perception and Event Comprehension Theory (SPECT). Across both experiments, viewers watched the scene, we manipulated their knowledge of the bomb, and they made a predictive inference just before the bomb would explode. Experiment 1 found that the likelihood of predicting the explosion decreased when the soundtrack was absent. Experiment 2 showed that individual differences in working memory accounted for variability in generating the prediction when the soundtrack was absent. We explore the implications for filmmaking in general.
Paul Messaris, Cynthia Freeland, Sheena Rogers, Malcolm Turvey, Greg M. Smith, Daniel T. Levin, Alicia M. Hymel, and Tim J. Smith
CONTINUITY AND ITS DISCONTENTS
CONTINUITY, NARRATIVE, AND CROSS-MODAL CUING OF ATTENTION
AUTEUR OF ATTENTION: THE FILMMAKER AS COGNITIVE SCIENTIST
THE CONTINUITY OF NARRATIVE COMPREHENSION
CONTINUITY IS NOT CONTINUOUS
Greg M. Smith
MAKING THE CASE FOR NONPREDICTIVE CONTINUITY PERCEPTION
Daniel T. Levin and Alicia M. Hymel
EXTENDING ATOCC: A REPLY
Tim J. Smith