I am working on an animation in which there are three somewhat small font words (Environmental, Social, and Economic) together with three colored horizontal histogram bars on each side of the labels on the upper center of the screen. These three words are spoken in sequence by the narrator. To aid cognition and bring attention to the area being referenced by the narrator so the viewer more easily understands what the narration is referring to, I am going to have each word in turn get a visual flourish to catch attention and bring the eye to that part of the screen. Each word will be bolded and turned to match the associated bar's color in succession as they are spoken. Here is a shot showing upper portion of screen with the middle of the three words (Social) being emphasized in the orange color:

Three sets of bars and labels in between them with middle one emphasized

Here is shot showing whole screen with bars in context: enter image description here

My question is about timing, in order to maximize viewer comprehension that the three bars are what is being spoken about in the narration, should the flourish exactly match the timing of the spoken word, or should it slightly precede it by say 1/10th of a second, or slightly follow it. I'm thinking preceding slightly makes the most sense, but was unable to construct a google search to find any research on this question. Similarly, should the flourish last the duration of the spoken word, or extend slightly past it, say by another 1/10th of a second?


The visual flourish should precede the narration by a little bit, maybe a fraction of a second or so. This is because we process auditory and visual input at different speeds. We actually react faster to sound than we do to sight. So if the visual flourish and narration were exactly synced, it would actually appear to the user that the visual flourish was slower/later because it takes longer for the brain to process that input.

There's even scientific evidence for it. Google returns lots of results. Here's one paper about it:

In the present study we found that auditory reaction time was less as compared to visual reaction time for both simple and choice visual reaction time tasks in basketball players. Since the auditory stimulus reaches the cortex faster than the visual stimulus; the auditory reaction time is faster than the visual reaction time.

Really though I would recommend you play around with it a bit yourself. Try different timings and see which one "feels" right. Test it against a few users and see what they say. Video editing is difficult and a lot of it is done by instinct.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.