Careful with the “Friday” music video!

Friday video reflex seizures photosensitivity flashingI do want video games to be the focus in this blog, but I feel the need to comment on this Internet sensation. As of this morning there have been 72 million views on YouTube of 13-year-old Rebecca Black’s debut music video “Friday.”  Lots of people have opinions about her voice, her age, her friends, the production values, and the song itself.  I watched it from a different perspective, noticing that about two minutes into the video there’s a 20-second sequence of pretty rapid flashing. I had a hunch it could provoke seizures in people sensitive to flash and flicker.

So I ran the video through the Harding Flash and Pattern Analyzer, an analysis tool used regularly by the BBC and other broadcast networks in the UK and Japan to ensure their programs comply with internationally ratified image specifications for seizure safety. According to the Flash Pattern Analyzer’s assessment, the level of luminance flash during that segment is in the dangerous zone, capable of provoking seizures. So have there been any reports of people having seizures watching “Friday”?  None that I know of. Probably most people have viewed it in the default YouTube small screen, which would make it much less likely to cause a problem. A primary reason why video games pose a bigger seizure threat is that the games are usually viewed up close,  thus taking over most of the individual’s field of vision.

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