Sunday, 15 December 2013

Time travels from left to right

It is an unwritten (but oft spoken) law of filming (whether cinema, TV or advertising) that when the character is making a lengthier journey, he moves from left to right through the picture, in other words, he is more or less static and the background moves right to left.

Apparently, we are so accustomed to reading from left to right and tracking things moving from left to right that in clay pigeon shooting, people score significantly better when the pigeon is fired from the left and significantly worse when it is fired from the right.

Recent adverts which spring to mind here are the ones for:

- The Sun, where the character walks along a high street, going through lots of mini-scenarios:

- BT Broadband/BT Sport one where the character steps up against the wall on the right, which then tilts over by ninety degrees to become the floor of the next room he marches through (I can't track it down but it's really annoying anyway).

- There was a similar one for Rightmove, the main character moves left to right through most of the scenes:

In adverts for cars, the direction is also usually left to right, but I read about a deliberate variant on this, which is when they are advertising "off-road" cars. You know, the huge ones which people use to drop off the kids at primary school and then go and pick up some shopping - how stupid were they to build primary schools and supermarkets in such out of the way places, eh? They signify "difficult journey" by having the car move the "wrong" way, from right to left.

So… if there is an advertisement for travelling backwards through time, it stands to reason that the characters have to move from right to left, hats off to YouView for giving us the example:


Ian Hills said...

Well I'll be buggered, as a LibDem might say.

DBC Reed said...

Do peoples who read from right to left find left-to-right readers' films confusing?
Is n't there some evidence that looking at a picture most people focus just right of centre and track leftwards? There are cartoons with two characters where you have to read the right hand character's speech bubble first and the put down/smart retort on the left second or the joke would n't work? Can't think of any examples mind you.

Mark Wadsworth said...

IH, you live and learn.

DBC, that I do not know. Are Arab films done right to left?

Bayard said...

DBC, M, What about the Chinese? Don't they read top to bottom?