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Visual perception of events: The influence of a moving observer viewpoint

Working groupRealistic Depictions Lab

03/2014 - open-end


Budget resources

Project description

During the observation of dynamic events there are often two kinds of movement: On the one hand there are moving objects and persons in the 3-dimensional space, and on the other hand the observer him/herself is not static but changes continuously his point of view. Situations like this occur in everyday life for example when driving a car or playing a football game. Also visual media very often use filmic means like a moving camera.

This project examined if a moving observer viewpoint can intensify or lessen the impression of movement of the actors. Animated chasing sequences showed two actors moving one behind the other. These sequences were filmed with either a static camera or a moving camera following the actors. In several experiments participants always had to judge if the chasing actor would catch up with the chased one or if he would fall back, i.e. participants had to forecast the outcome of the chase.
Several experiments showed that forecasting the outcome of the chase was not most exact when the static camera was used: If a static camera presented the chasing sequence, participants often judged the chasing actor as being faster than he really was. Further it could be shown that this misperception could be reduced by using a moving camera: If a moving camera followed the actors, participants judged the chasing actor as being less fast and forecasted the outcome of the chase more exactly. The results of the project are on the one hand important for our understanding of everyday perception in situations in which observers of a dynamic event themselves are moving, for example when driving a car. On the other hand results can support the useful usage of a moving camera viewpoint when presenting visual dynamic events in instructional films.


Dr. Tobias Meilinger
Max Planck Institute for biological cybernetics, Tübingen


Meilinger, T., Garsoffky, B., & Schwan, S. (2017). A catch-up illusion arising from a distance-dependent perception bias in judging relative movement. Scientific Reports, 7:17037.


Dr. Bärbel Garsoffky Dr. Bärbel Garsoffky
Tel.: +49 7071 979-214