• Frame & Bar Media

PMI100 Psychology of the Moving Image - Assessment 2

Audience Reaction Analysis: Animation

Thank you to every one of my closest friends and family in the world for taking part in my small study and helping me on my journey to becoming a kick ass film maker. Making 2D shapes "emote" and tell a story through movement alone has been a humbling challenge and I have earnestly enjoyed reading and deciphering all your feedback, funny jokes, awesome predictions and clever observations. I hope you enjoy learning about just what the hell is going on here!

Warmest Regards,


To gain a better understanding of the whole study (and the psychological techniques utilised) please start with Assessment 1 which you can find here.

Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses

Survey participants were recruited from a selection of personal contacts including friends, family and fellow students. 21 people (male and female) across a wide age range participated in the study, encompassing a wide range of occupations and life experience.

98% of respondents were from Australia with a further 2% from America. On average the survey was completed in 10 minutes.

A data clean up was performed to eliminate spelling and syntax errors. This ensured the resulting word clouds are more accurate to the participants original intentions and observations. Word clouds are used to provide an alternative way of observing qualitative data and to highlight potentially unseen connections. They are useful in aggregating varied responses into unified representations of a question. The larger a word is and the closer that word is to the center of the cloud, dictates the prevalence and salience that the word carries. This needs to be read carefully though as positives can reflect as negatives and visa versa without proper context and this is why the key findings of this study will go into detail.

The Likert scale (a bipolar scaling method) has also been used in questions 1 to 4 in this study. Likert is useful it obtaining a more nuanced answer from respondents as it reveals preference on a sliding scale, in contrast to a simple yes or no response.


ANIMATION 1 RESULTS Questions 1 - 4

Which emotion is portrayed in the animation? (1)

Describe what is happening in the animation? (1)

What is the main message of the animation? (1)

What is the purpose of the animation? (1)

The animation would make more sense if … ? (1)

ANIMATION 2 RESULTS Questions 1 - 4

Which emotion is portrayed in the animation? (2)

Describe what is happening in the animation? (2)

What is the main message of the animation? (2)

What is the purpose of the animation? (2)

The animation would make more sense if … ? (2)

Full results of the study can be found below >>>

Download PDF • 318KB

Key Findings

In Animation 1 the vast majority of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed (majority) that the animation A) tells a story, B) is interesting to watch, C) communicates a message and D) evokes emotion.

In response to the question Which emotion is portrayed in Animation (1), Anticipation was the highest ranked choice, preceded by Jealousy which was followed (in a three way tie between) Happiness, Anger and fear.

When asked to describe what is happening in the animation (1) the overwhelming majority of participants (19 of 21) correctly answered the question, in relation to A) the reception theory (RT) and hypothesis proposed by the animator and B) the guidelines set forth in Wick & et al’s study of Perception in dynamic scenes which states:

“The guidelines provided to assess a fit were to assign a point for each of the following 6 criteria met: shapes could be identified based on the physical description, behaviours could be identified, narrative was “entertaining” (to avoid purely physical descriptive accounts), and the narrative did not contain specialised references (e.g. to pop culture). Points were given if narrative attributed emotions to shape and if the spatial structure and locations of shapes were described accurately.” (Wick, 2019)

One of the most compelling answers (in response to the description of Animation 1) is the following:

“Black was playing around with the white ball and then this white comes around pushing his little black ball.Seeing the big white ball played by small black, white gets jealous and rushes towards black and cornershim/her kinda bully him/her and gets the white ball. Seeing white in anger, black goes and hides behind the wall but is still curious to see what's white is doing with white ball, so he/she hides behind the wall and peeks white playing. White sees that and kinda try to scare black off again. But then white gets stuck with the white ball and is trouble. Black sees that and approaches white, but still scared and tries to help white get the ball of him. But white isn't helping the situation and mess it up more I guess. And black was like hold still and slaps the white ball and saves the white to get off the ball. And white is thankful I guess and brings back the ball to black and lets him/her play with it and happy end. The black ball was kinda lonely most of the time, but not sure if that was a subject of focus.” - DATE: 10/26/2021 Participant: 57600658

This answer is similar to the original hypothesis, which will be covered in the comparative report.

Out of all the questions in the survey, this one (Describe what is happening in the animation (1) elicited the longest and most comprehensive responses (on average).

As the message of both Animation 1 & 2 was left intentionally ambiguous, the results are varied but are mostly inline with the original RT. Most participants were able to create connections from one or all of the various emotions (or apparent behaviour) displayed by the objects and construct metaphors around them. For example “Sharing is caring” or “Be kind to others” or “Jealousy isn't beneficial”

One particularly compelling answer to this question was:

I felt emotions of antagonism from the big white triangle, and loneliness from the outline triangle, it was smaller so when the larger one came into the scene it dominated the story, and stole the ball that matched his outfit. the big white ball matched the white triangle, and vice-versa, they seem paired up, and so it was quite satisfying to see the little guy help out the big guy. Main message is, share balls and be friendly when playing ball games because you'll never know when you're in a jam, it may be the guy you bullied or rejected that's the

only dude around to get you out of a shit heap. - DATE: 10/26/2021 Participant: 57600559

In response to the purpose of the animation (1) the results were varied. On analysing the accompanying word cloud, the most used, supporting responses included: Story, Convey, Play and Animation.

Other compelling qualitative answers included: “To show compassion”, “Really good animation that speaks various emotions and tells a story”, “To tell a short story”, “To convey a relational conflict”, “To teach friendship and highlight values of sharing. All can be happy if shared. Helping others is also important.”

In regards to the question of (The animation would make more sense if …), the majority of respondents agreed that the animation did NOT require alteration to convey the intended reception theory or in other words, “make sense”. The main (constructive) comments centred around the addition of sound and the ending being ambiguous. Some called for the running time to be shorter as it (animation) wasn’t very “captivating” where others asked for “more context and length”.

The cascade of Think, Sound and Sense in the accompanying word cloud suggests that the addition of sound would have the largest impact on the clarity of the narrative.

Animation 2’s quantitative questions received much the same result as Animation 1, with a slight variation on question 2 (The animation is interesting to watch) which now includes 5 neutrals and a disagreement count of 1.

The same is true of question 3 (The animation communicates a message) which has the addition of 1 neutral and 2 disagree counts comparatively to Animation 1.

In Animation 2, Fear was the number one emotion registered, followed by Anticipation in a three way tie with Anger and Jealousy.

The answers for question 6 (Describe what is happening in the animation) are fairly similar to those of Animation 1. The respondents did not share as much detail, but moreover, seek to confirm their response to Animation 1 with some new additional level of insight.

The colour change was noted by most participants, but not attributed to anything in particular. The naming conventions become more specific in Animation 2. The realisation that the ball might be “stuck” to the triangles “nose” is more apparent in Animation 2.

A small amount of participants make reference to gender and or age in Animation 2.

Another observation is the difference in response from participant 57653424 who stated in Animation 1:

“The bigger triangle is stealing the bigger ball from the smaller triangle. After the smaller triangle is scared of the bigger one first it finally stands up for itself and fights the bigger triangle for the ball and wins”.

And in animation 2:

“Very similar to the first animation, but this time the purple triangle didn’t hide from the blue one. Instead it fought for his ball straight away. Also after the fight the blue triangle tries to play with the purple triangle, but the purple triangle doesn’t want to and just leaves the scene with its ball”.

Some participants observed the stroke triangle as red or magenta (not Pink) but always correctly identified the fill triangle as “blue”.

One respondent felt the colour change was indicative of a species change: “The same as the first one but now they are fish”.

The response to being asked what the main message of the animation was, (a second time), yielded mixed results. Some participants used this as a way to elaborate on previous observations and reinforce their own feelings on the concepts of moral compass and empathy.

One respondent remarks: “That colour expression is good but unimportant.”

In response to the final question, The animation would make more sense if … most participants agreed that the animation did not require any alterations to confirm the animators RT. They also reaffirmed their previous observations around the inclusion of sound and additional context.

Several people commented in this section that the colours helped them grasp the scene/animation more easily and that "it" - quote, "made more sense."

One participant commented that “This animation changed slightly” in Animation 2.

Comparative Report

The results of this survey provide evidence that supports the idea that the audience was able to successfully comprehend the animators reception theory and were successful in observing the nuance of the original hypothesis.

Several answers were almost carbon copies to the original “complicated” hypothesis:

If the audience is able to fully comprehend my “reception theory” so to speak, I will predict the audience are able to comprehend a story where a child (stroke triangle) is playing alone with a ball. Another child (bold triangle) enters the scene, becomes envious of the first child’s ball and then threatens and attacks the younger child, taking possession of the ball by force. The first child runs away and is sad. The older child begins to play with the ball and over confidently gets it stuck on its pointy triangle “nose”. The younger child then compassionately helps the older child remove the ball and they make up or “reconcile” and run off happily playing with each other.

And nearly all were able to demonstrate their understanding in relation to the original “simplistic” hypothesis:

On the most simplistic level I predict the audience will understand that the objects are possibly children, fighting over a ball. The ball gets stuck on one objects “nose” and one object helps the other to get it off. Both objects make up and run off playing together.

The reception and identification of the implied feminist theory in Animation 2, involving the pink and blue triangles was inconclusive. The communication of this message could be considered largely unsuccessful due to the low number of responses regarding the change.

In the same vein, little compelling evidence was found to support the hypothesis that the triangles in animation 1 would be identified as males (boys) unless the use of "guy" counts?

One interesting observation was how some participants were better able to name and identify the triangles, understand the narrative and attain a greater sense of enjoyment with the addition of colour.

Another interesting (and somewhat rare) comment was the “fact” that the there was a difference in animation/narrative between the 2 animations (spoiler: there wasn't).

The emotional “tone” of both animations was well received by the audience, registering in most of the same categories as predicted in the hypothesis except in the case of Anticipation, which was not intended as primary emotion, but when viewed in context, makes sense.

Anticipation turned to Fear as the dominant emotion portrayed between the two animations. Is this due to colour or to reviewing the same narrative with a different perspective?

Why did some respondents confuse pink as red or magenta but never blue? Perhaps a calibration problem or a colour spectrum issue?

Animation 3

The audience reached a general consensus on both animations 1 & 2 demonstrating the animators instinct was correct, therefore, not a great deal will change for Animation 3.

  • Seeing as some restrictions have been lifted for the third animation, the concept is to now experiment with scale and motion lines as an extra narrative component.

  • Colour will also be retained due to the success of its introduction in Animation 2.

  • Sound design would be the next logical step in creating a fully "obvious" and compelling narrative, but is not permitted in the brief of this assessment.

Personal note

I think they (the audience) got it :) It was gratifying to have results that correctly identified most, if not all the nuance of my intentions within the animation. The colour change didn’t make a significant difference in the majority of respondents identifying my feminist theory breadcrumbs, but did provide insight on the respondents ability to chunk the information and remember the story more accurately. I also think a the colour helped sell the fact that it was a ball and that it became stuck on the triangles nose especially with the use of layering. The simple Gestalt principles of likeness and continuation are hard at work here.

It was interesting how some respondents became somewhat disenfranchised or convinced of something that wasn’t there on the second viewing which was in turn, reflected in their answers. It’s almost as if they felt like they were being tricked. If I had altered my animations more drastically (between 1 & 2), perhaps the results would have been different.

Overall, I am happy with the results and similarity to to my RT, but I also learned some valuable lessons along the way - perhaps most importantly:

“If you have to make a choice between being clear or being clever - always pick clear!”

Final Animation (3)

Presentation Video

Full results of the study can be found below >>>

Download PDF • 318KB


Wick, F. A., Alaoui Soce, A., Garg, S., Grace, R. C., & Wolfe, J. M. (2019). Perception in dynamic scenes: What is your Heider capacity?. Journal of experimental psychology. General, 148(2), 252–271.


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