What Makes Pixar’s Finding Dory Trailer Tick

By: Sticky
on June 21, 2016

Pixar is known for its heart-wrenching sequences, so we ran their Finding Dory trailer through our platform to figure out what makes their story magic tick.  

Lots of Joy

Using our emotion-coding software (still in beta), we were able to see what people were feeling while they watched the video. People’s facial expressions, captured through their webcams, were translated to emotional responses through our algorithm.


As you can see, discounting ‘Negative,’ ‘Joy’ was the dominant emotion throughout the video. I discount negativity because these results are still being more clearly delineated in our beta, and a generally negative facial expressions might indicate anything from tension to confusion.


We see four peaks of joy: 9 seconds, 16 seconds, 55 seconds, and 1:20. Looking at each of these in more detail will cue us in to the Pixar magic.


A Familiar Riff

The first peak appears at the end of the familiar musical riff from Finding Nemo’s theme song, which will put people in the mindset they had leaving that movie. The notes reach a high point and peak with people’s emotions.

A Familiar Home

A closeup on Nemo’s home, the mythicized final destination of the previous film corresponds to the second peak:

This surely has people feeling happy out of recognition and the realization that the excellent story continues.


A New Adventure

After Nemo and his father catch Dory sleep-swimming, they head back to bed only to immediately hear fins splashing against water again, this time much faster than before.


Viewers experience this moment as the exciting start to the chase after another missing person and the start of a new story; they realize that Nemo and his father are about to chase after Dory.


A Funny Title Sequence


This peak comes immediately after cards read: “An unforgettable adventure/She probably won’t remember.”  The jump in joy at the title card indicates a high share potential and a good likelihood of watching the movie, which is not surprising given how much people liked the first film. Respondents gave the trailer a 3.7/5 likelihood of sharing, according to our survey data.


Final Takeaways


In this case, Pixar used familiar icons (the house) and sequences (the musical phrase) to increase the emotional response to its trailer. Pixar was very successful in doing so, as viewers had shared experiences of joy at four different points during the short trailer. People will see the film, and if it’s anything like its trailer, they will like it.



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