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World Festival of Animated Film /
short and feature edition 5 to 10 June 2017
World Festival of Animated Film / short and feature edition 5 to 10 June 2017
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ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER IIII - Symposium for Contemporary Animation Studies | PANEL 3: ANIMATION IN THE MIND

Interactive Animated film for Preschool Children: Effects of Interactivity on the Immersion and Apprehension of Character Emotions & Motivations - Zeynep Akcay - Yasar University - Turkey

7/06 WED 10:50 - 11:20 Chilloutka, Ilica 15/1

This paper summarizes the production phase and the reception research of an interactive animated film for preschool kids called Bo & Di, directed by Zeynep AkÇay. Supported by a Research Grant Program of Yasar University, it was finalized in December 2016 and reception tests were conducted in January 2017. Being also part of a PhD research on the narrative characteristics of interactive animation, this film and its linear version are specifically tailored to measure the differences in the emotional immersion levels of children. The storyline, based on the “Theory of Mind” notion in developmental psychology, contained the emotional responses of the film characters who feel differ­ent things and react in different ways to various situations. A reception test was designed in order to measure the differences in the children’s immersion level and in their understanding of emotional states of the characters, investigating whether children experiencing the interactive version would have a better grasp of the characters’ motivations and feelings compared to children watching its linear version.

For this test, after completing tasks to determine their theory of mind competencies, about 200 children between the ages of 3 to 5 were observed for different signs of immersionand flow (namely, oral participation, visual focus, and the immediate responses matched with their facial expressions), and afterwards, they were directed same questions relating to the emotional states of the characters. As a result, although the level of immersion for interactive version was significantly much higher than the level of immersion for linear version; the difference of version did not have a significant effect in the level of children’s grasp of film characters. This result opens up discussions about the relationship between the quality of immersion (namely, ludic or emotional immersion, as described in recent texts about narrative theory) and outcomes of learning in preschool children.

Zeynep Akçay is a scholar and animation filmmaker experimenting in various fields of audiovisual narratives. She was born in Turkey and studied communication in Istanbul before moving to Canada to get a BFA degree in animation at Concordia University. She continued her studies in Master of Arts in film studies, for which she wrote a thesis about the narrative strategies in animated films. She also worked in several commercial projects, including two TV shows and one stop-motion film. Upon her return to Turkey, she worked in production companies and continued teaching animation as part time lecturer until her appointment as full time lecturer at Yaşar University in Izmir. She is currently working as lecturer in Animation Department and finalizing her practice-based PhD at the same university.