Some people might think that audience testing is something new, something thought up my marketing departments rather than artists. But it’s not. Silent film greats like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin also did testing, and would often sit in theaters to see how audiences reacted. They were accustomed to instant feedback on their work when they were on stage, and learned to live and die by it.
Here is an example. Buster Keaton finished a version of “Seven Chances” and screened it for a test audience. In the film he was being chased downhill by a horde of women in bridal costumes, and he accidentally kicked loose a few small stones that tumbled along next to him. The audience laughed at that. Keaton decided to give them more, so he went back and reshot the sequence, and this is the result:
Animators tend to want to do their work until they like it, then release it upon the world and wait for the appreciation to come rolling in. I suggest you get as many eyes on your work as possible, especially from regular people who don’t know you.