Monday, April 3, 2017

Eye tracking a pianist

(Link to YouTube) Expert pianist Daniel Beliavsky and his student Charlotte Bennett analyze eye-tracking footage taken while they perform, both from memory and from sheet music.

The more experienced pianist knows where the keys are and where his hands are, but he's thinking and looking ahead of the notes he's playing, and his gaze position is generally more stable.

I'd love to see what this technology, called Tobii Pro Spectrum, could tell us about how a visual artist sees the world.

As wonderful as it is, however, the limitation of such an eye-scanning device is that it can only track the center of the gaze. It can't account for peripheral vision. Without much changing gaze direction, experienced artists are able to widen their peripheral attention to see overall relationships or to focus the attention on small details.

Learning when and how to do that is one of the things art students must master.
Previous posts on eye tracking
Via BoingBoing


Ben K said...

This is fascinating, especially as I'm getting back into practicing piano after many years. I'm going to be paying closer attention to where I'm looking now while I'm playing. Also I feel like I'll be hyper aware of where I'm looking while drawing or painting.

It's from a few years ago, but here's a link to an article about a study involving similar technology, comparing how artists vs. non-artists see an image.

Unknown said...

This is super interesting.

I know there's ways to do eye tracking with just a webcam. I'm not sure how accurate it would be compared to this or how complicated the setup would get, but I'm going to investigate. It's probably not too hard to set up for digital painters since you only need one camera and the head stays relatively still. Plus you could probably aid the accuracy by adding info about where the cursor is.

I wonder what type of differences you'd see between beginners and professionals with something that has no reference. I can guess that with reference you'd have a similar thing going on to the pianist and the more experienced artists will look more at their reference, or at least I know most beginners don't look enough, but I'm not sure what would happen with very experienced professionals. Do you think you look even more or less?

Unfortunately like you said this can't really track peripheral vision though I wonder what's happening when we "take a step back" from the painting to check for composition, etc, do our eyes stay in one place or do they dart everywhere, do they dart in a similar manner to how viewer's later look at a painting, or in a more systematic way.

rock995 said...

Perhaps the lack of peripheral information would be lessened if the instrument were a guitar, no?

Unknown said...

Actually my guitar teacher told me to never look at where my fingers are but to point my view (if at all) where they are supposed to be at the next chord change, or position change. That helped me a lot playing difficult parts.

Excuse my bad english, just in case. :p