Lean-Back Machina: Attention-Based Skippable Segments in Interactive Cinema

Niels Erik Raursø*, Malte Elkær Rasmussen, Mikkel Kappel Persson, Tor Arnth Petersen, Kristinn Bragi Garðarsson, Henrik Schoenau-Fog

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/conference proceedingArticle in proceedingResearchpeer-review


Interactive cinema appears as an enticing blend of cinema and games. However, active control has been argued to disrupt the appeal of the cinematic experience, and so-called lean-back interactions have been proposed. Such experiences seek to increase narrative immersion without posing demands to the user, or them necessarily being conscious of the control. This paper seeks to investigate how such mechanism can be designed by leveraging attention-measuring Brain-Computer Interface to cater to individuals’ interests and increase narrative engagement for interactive films. This is done by skipping seamlessly ahead to the next exciting plot point when detecting drops in viewer’s attention, thereby tailoring parts of the film while keeping the overarching story. A short prototype film was produced with virtual production techniques and evaluated in a between group experimental design (n = 24). Participants in the experimental condition watched an interactive version of the film, which contained skippable segments based on viewers’ level of attention, while those in the control condition watched a non-interactive version with an edit matching one from the experimental group. The results showed no significant difference in narrative engagement; however, the experimental group showed a significantly higher overall attention than the control group. This suggests that attention-based skippable segments could have some impact on viewer engagement, and it may be beneficial for creating personalized edits for viewers, although further investigations are needed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInteractive Storytelling - 14th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2021, Proceedings
EditorsAlex Mitchell, Mirjam Vosmeer
Number of pages14
Publication date2021
ISBN (Print)9783030922993
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-92300-6
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Event14th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2021 - Tallinn, Estonia
Duration: 7 Dec 202110 Dec 2021


Conference14th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, ICIDS 2021
SeriesLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume13138 LNCS

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Attention
  • Brain-controlled film
  • Interactive cinema
  • Lean-back vs Lean-forward interaction
  • Narrative engagement
  • Neurocinema


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