First-time viewers' comprehension of films: Bridging shot transitions



Which perceptual and cognitive prerequisites must be met in order to be able to comprehend a film is still unresolved and a controversial issue. In order to gain some insights into this issue, our field experiment investigates how first-time adult viewers extract and integrate meaningful information across film cuts. Three major types of commonalities between adjacent shots were differentiated, which may help first-time viewers with bridging the shots: pictorial, causal, and conceptual. Twenty first-time, 20 low-experienced and 20 high-experienced viewers from Turkey were shown a set of short film clips containing these three kinds of commonalities. Film clips conformed also to the principles of continuity editing. Analyses of viewers' spontaneous interpretations show that first-time viewers indeed are able to notice basic pictorial (object identity), causal (chains of activity), as well as conceptual (links between gaze direction and object attention) commonalities between shots due to their close relationship with everyday perception and cognition. However, first-time viewers' comprehension of the commonalities is to a large degree fragile, indicating the lack of a basic notion of what constitutes a film.