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eMAEX – A Standardized Method of Analyzing Qualities of Filmic Expressivity

The film analytical approach of our research group bases on eMAEX (electronically based media analysis of expressive movements) (Kappelhoff/Bakels 2011) – an analysis systematics with an dynamic and multimodal perspective on audiovisual images. Film is understood here as expressive and time-based media (Kappelhoff 2004; Scherer/Greifenstein/Kappelhoff 2014). Audiovisual media is thus not segmented, described and qualified under narrative criteria, but the focus lies on aesthetic staging – i.e. on perceptive patterns that are formed by dynamics on different levels such as camera, body movement, image composition, colour design, light setting, musical score, and the use of sounds. eMAEX is thereby a systematic mode of describing the interplay of these different description levels as a joint  movement figuration – as movement patterns that structure the sensory and affective experiences of watching a film. eMAEX claims a qualitative-descriptive empiricism for film analysis:

“Qualitative-descriptive empiricism means to us that every film analytical statement, every genre theoretical or film historical thesis can be verified and understood by looking at the object of study itself.”

Macro view of an eMAEX analysis of pathos scenes in a war film

Link: https://www.empirische-medienaesthetik.fu-berlin.de/en/emaex-system/emaex_kurzversion/index.html


Kappelhoff, Hermann (2004): Matrix der Gefühle. Das Kino, das Melodrama und das Theater der Empfindsamkeit. Berlin: Vorwerk 8.

Kappelhoff, Hermann/Bakels, Jan-Hendrik (2011): Das Zuschauergefühl. Möglichkeiten qualitativer Medienanalyse. In: Zeitschrift für Medienwissenschaft 5.2,  78–95.

Scherer, Thomas/Greifenstein, Sarah/Kappelhoff, Hermann (2014): Expressive movements in audiovisual media: Modulating affective experience In: Body – Language – Communication. An international handbook on multimodality in human interaction, Vol. 2. Ed. by Cornelia Müller, Alan Cienki, Ellen Fricke, et al. Berlin, New York: De Gruyter Mouton, 2081–2092.