story, science, technology and creativity

Busy, busy…and the science of stunt doubles

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It’s August! August is home to National Science Week and Children’s Book Week, so naturally it’s my favourite month of the year 🙂

It’s also busy, so I’ve been looking into the possibility of cloning myself, or at least, hiring someone who looks like me and can cook and clean as badly.

the science of stunt doubles

Can’t spot the difference? That’s because of science

This article, called Double Take, appeared in Helix magazine, and it dashes all my hopes of hiring my own stunt double. Unless we’re seen around 15-second apart, it won’t really work :-/

Double Take

Movie stars may be hired for their looks and skills, but stunt doubles are hired to jump from helicopters, fall from cliffs and explode from burning buildings.

A star and stunt double can have very different faces, so why can’t you tell them apart?

Researcher Alina Liberman found the answers are all in your head.

She says your brain deliberately blurs recently seen images in a process called perceptual pull, which helps you to recognise familiar faces.

If we didn’t have this bias of seeing a face as the same from one moment to the next, our perception of people would be very confusing,” says Alina. “For example, a friend or relative would look like a completely different person with each turn of the head or change in light and shade.”

Thanks to perceptual pull, your brain morphs the effect of changing viewpoints, different lighting, blur and noise into a single idea of a particular face.

The connections it makes are especially strong when you see two or three similar faces within a 15-second time frame.

Alina tested perceptual pull in a study where participants had to pick a face that best matched a target face. Every time, they selected a face that combined the two target faces they’d most recently seen.

Here are some of the stunt doubles I’ve considered:

Baby me

Baby me

Man me

Man me

Manga me

Hmmmm. Disturbing. I think I’ll just have to stop messing around on the internet and start doing some work instead 🙂 Happy August everyone!

Author: cristyburne


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