The Role of Cinematic Techniques in Understanding Character Affect

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Filmmakers must rely on cinematic devices of perspective (close-ups and point-of-view shot sequencing) to emphasize facial expressions associated with affective states. This study explored the extent to which differences in the use of these devices across two films that have the same content lead to differences in the understanding of the affective states of characters. Participants viewed one of two versions of the films and made affective judgments about how characters felt about one another with respect to saddness and anger. The extent to which the auditory and visual contexts were present when making the judgments was varied across four experiments. The results of the study showed judgments about sadness differed across the two films, but only when the entire context (sound and visual input) were present. The results are discussed in the context of the role of facial expressions and context in inferring basic emotions.