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MIFF: Case Study - Emotion Simulator

May 6th, 2016

Episode 2234 of 3875 episodes

The idea was that we all feel the same basic emotions - fear, anger, surprise, disgust, sadness and happiness - and film has the incredible power to make us feel those key human emotions, no matter what language it's in. So in promoting the Melbourne International Film Festival, which screens films from around the world in more than 60 languages, we set out to create movie trailers that spoke every language - through emotion. To do this we first held special preview screenings with prominent movie critics to capture the six key human emotions for every film at the festival via our custom mobile app and biometric sensors. This data created an Emotional Script, condensing an entire two-hour film to under one minute.The data was then fed via electric stimulation into the facial muscles of willing participants to act out the emotional arc of an entire film, using the human face as a display. This helped participants decide which film they wanted to watch, based on how it would make them feel, and provided great content we could use to entice other audiences to the festival. Before each film at the festival, audiences also experienced the Emotional Scripts in a custom-built movie chair we called the Emotional Simulator - the simulator sessions sold out within two days. All these experiences were filmed, and created Emotional Trailers for every film at the festival. Trailers that the audience in the cinema, watching the live stream, or seeing on social media, could book tickets directly from.Our technical and production partner, AIRBAG, did a great job in leading the technical aspect of the campaign. Director Steven Nicholson experimented on himself with a small multi-tap transformer before hitting the science books and using TENS devices to finally isolate combinations of stimuli and electrode placements that worked for each of the important muscle groups on the face. Steven also wrote the software that converted the data we gathered about the films into a format that worked for the Emotion Simulator, so his contribution was invaluable to the success of the project.Emotions are what connect us to each other and what make us feel part of a greater existence. People already use social media to communicate how they feel about things and life in general, so having a powerful and entertaining short film to share with their friends - especially about a subject they are passionate about - was an attractive proposition. There was also the appeal of participating in something that was new and innovative and not a common experience. We found that people were really interested in the technical aspect of the Emotion Simulator and wanted to talk at length about how it worked.The excitement around the Emotional Simulator and Emotional Trailers resulted in the highest ever sales in the Melbourne International Film Festival's 65-year history. The Emotional Trailers drove an 800% increase in social shares and tickets to preview films sold out within two days. The positive word of mouth on social media and mainstream press was an important part of the campaignâs record-breaking success, reaching 14 million people. Films previewed in the Emotional Trailers sold out within two days, a good indication that the trailers were successful in drawing audiences to specific films and to the festival itself. Overall, tickets sales for the entire festival were up 4.5% from the previous year and more importantly, MIFF Membership increased by 10.4% in 2015, exceeding the 8% target.We were looking for a way to push boundaries and we believe we achieved exactly that with the MIFF Emotional Trailer. Luckily, the technology has moved out of the realms of sci-fi and was available to make this happen. It's amusing to think some participants may have been keen for a free facial as it's not necessarily the most relaxing facial I can think of. But it was certainly an out-of-the-box experience that left an emotional impression on all who participated.

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