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Friday, January 18, 2008


(From several sources we know that Walt Disney depended heavily on his ARI (Audience Response Institute) where the audience response would be recorded on questionaires filled out after a screening. Card Walker ran this in the 40's. A bad ARI could kill a film, even if it had been fully animated. Well, I had not heard this before, though:)

Børge Ring writes:

From Laugh-O-gram to Laugh-O-meter...

Walt Disney's intense study of audience and what made an audience react lead him during the early 30's to invent and build what he called a Laugh-O-meter. It was a sound recorder that registered the laughs of a cinema audience during the projection of a short. During the projection it ran in sync with the film and, counting seconds (or feet?) delivered a report on which seconds of the film brought laughter and to what degree. A secretary wrote out the report in typescript across a barsheet of the film.

19,5 through 37 Belly laff
48 through 62 Titter
and so forth

The machine was capable of backlash. If a film was unsuccessful the secretary would write "slight titter" or "some coughing."

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Anonymous Rusty Mills says...

Interesting. I guess this is somewhat the original focus group testing. Though I like that it is based entirely on the audience reaction. I wonder if that has anything to do with Scene 29-3 on page 66 of your Pinocchio draft that says "Out after preview".

Friday, January 18, 2008 at 10:03:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Kevin Koch says...

Hans, your blog is a treasure trove of good information. This is one of the most interesting bits of animation history I've read in a while. It certainly puts to rest the idea that the great animators "just made cartoons for themselves" and never did focus testing. There's been plenty of evidence to the contrary for years, but I had no idea it was so 'scientific' at Disney that far back.

Like Rusty suggests, this seems like a much better way to focus test than the way it's done now.

Thursday, January 24, 2008 at 9:20:00 AM PST  

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