Sound also plays an important part in film as it can provide depth,introduce new scenes with different characters and settings. But there are two elements to sound which are Diegetic (sound that comes from a person/object in the diegesis and seen onscreen) and Non-Diegetic (sound which can’t be heard by the characters onscreen but the audience can here as the sound has been edited in later).

Examples of Diegetic sounds include:

  • Closing doors
  • Dialogue between characters
  • Radio sounds
  • Ambient sounds

Synchronous/parallel sound- is sound which is matched with what’s shown onscreen and the action of movements.

Direct sound- This is all of the sound that was recorded during the filming of that scene.

Ambient sound- Sound that occurs in the background of the diegesis although it can’t be seen in the field of vision.

But Non-diegetic sounds include:

  • Voice over
  • Additional music
  • Soundtrack
  • Sound effects

Post synchronised dubbing- Is the process of adding in sound to a scene after it has been filmed.

Asynchronous- Sound which was self evidently recorded separately to what has been shown on screen.

Voice over- A voice from outside the diegesis is played on screen but as an audience we can’t see the character but we can hear them. This is used in film to give the viewer information on a certain characters’ emotions, feelings and thoughts.

Sound effects- Sound which is added into the visuals in editing, this may include studio sound recorded in the studio or artificial sound.

Below there are two examples of how Diegetic and Non-Diegetic sound is used in the film industry:

In this clip from the 2006 fantasy/drama film “Stranger than fiction” diegetic and non-diegetic sounds are expressed. For instance Non-diegetic sound include:

  1. Soundtrack music opening the scene
  2. Voiceover of women narrating; which uses third person
  3. Sound effects of high pitch noise as white signs appear in the street
  4. Sound effect of glass dropping as imaginary writing drops to the floor

Diegetic sounds include:

  1. Will Ferrell brushing his teeth
  2. He talks onscreen
  3. Making his tie and getting dressed
  4. Taking his coat off the hanger which hits the cupboard door
  5. Car driving past in the background
  6. His footsteps when running
  7. The bus when driving away
  8. Dialogue between the two characters

In the clip from “Amazing Spiderman 2” a science fiction/fantasy film, diegetic sounds like:

  1. Picking up badge and chucking it back down onto the table
  2. Picking up his headphones
  3. Slamming the door and then opening it
  4. Spilling stuff from him bag like the books falling to the ground and making a noise
  5. Typing on the keyboard from his laptop

And non-diegetic sounds like:

  1. Tv screen plays an interview between two characters but this has been pre-recorded and played
  2. Slow paced sad background music is played
  3. The music “Gone, gone, gone” by Phillip Phillips; which in the scene plays through his headphones but as a viewer we can hear it.
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