A cinema is set to open in May 2024 in Bristol, UK, with the capability of monitoring audience reactions.
These insights could underpin future commissioning, directorial and production approaches to content creation.
The Instrumented Auditorium is part of the University of Bristol’s MyWorld creative hub at Bristol’s Coal Shed, with partners including the BBC, Watershed cinema, Aardman and Netflix.
The auditorium is a 36-person 150m2 cinema and has received £400,000 from UK charity the Wolfson Foundation to equip it with monitoring equipment to record data on audience members and how they react to the content they are watching and hearing.
This additional grant has enabled the controlled environment to record biometric responses to what audience members are watching and hearing, including their heartrate, eye movement and brain activity. According to plans, researchers will even be able to monitor the electrical properties of people’s skin to gauge their subconscious emotional and sympathetic responses.
“We plan to work with film companies and distributors at multiple stages of the production pipeline,” said Iain Gilchrist, professor of neuropsychology at the University of Bristol. “For example, the facility will allow us to test the audience response moment-by-moment to inform the selection of the final version for release. We already have a number a project partners including BBC, BT, Aardman, Netflix and Google but are very keen to expand our network as the new facility comes onstream.
He also noted: “The Instrumented Auditorium will allow us to stream data that captures audience responses moment by moment, providing unique insights that take us way beyond current questionnaire-based methods.
“This is the first fully instrumented facility of its kind in the world, which is exciting not just for us as researchers but for those working in the creative sector, providing insights which will shape the future of film, television and beyond.”