Different Types of Film Sound


Diegetic and non-diegetic sound


  • ™Sound whose source is visible on the screen or whose source is implied to be present by the action of the film: 
  • ™voices of characters 
  • ™sounds made by objects in the story 
  • ™music represented as coming from instruments in the story space 
  • ™Diegetic sound is any sound presented as originated from source within the film's world 
  • Digetic sound can be either on screen or off screen depending on whatever its source is within the frame or outside the frame. 


  • ™Sound whose source is neither visible on the screen nor has been implied to be present in the action: 
  • ™narrator's commentary
  • ™sound effects which is added for the dramatic effect
  • ™mood music (score)
  • ™Non-diegetic sound is represented as coming from the a source outside story space. 

An NPR feature about the music from The Shining (Link Here)

Watch the following clip from the film Zodiac

™Is the sound mainly diegetic of non-diegetic?  How does the sound influence your experience of the scene?


Watch the following clip from Zodiac 

™Is the music diegetic or non-diegtic?  How does the music influence your experience of the scene?


Watch the following film from Silver Linings Playbook: (some adult content)

™Is the music diegetic or non-diegetic?  How does the music influence your experience of the scene?

Offscreen Sound: Blair Witch

Since this film was so low budget, they relied on sound design that primarily happened offscreen to create a chilling effect and hint at the fact that there was something other-worldly in the forest.

Even if a sound is meant to be paranormal and couldn't happen in real life, I still count it as diegetic, because the characters in the film can hear it. 



Read the article linked here

Points to remember: 

™Sometimes words have to be separated and it's important to avoid clipping (up-cutting a word). Using the waveform monitor while making edits can be helpful.

™Also, a two-frame crossfade can help make an awkward cut sound natural 

And go ahead and watch this scene, because you know you want  to. 


Read the article  linked here

Read the article linked here

Remember the following points:

Narration works best when woven in with sync sound from a scene

™Be careful that background sounds do not become distracting

™Ideally, final narration should be recorded in a sound booth to get high-quality clean sound


Scene from  Jaws

Scene from Jaws

A leit motif is a recurrent theme throughout a musical or literary composition, associated with a particular person, idea, or situation.

™Music can signify the presence of someone or something, because of conventions developed earlier in the film. In Jaws the opening scene begins with a shark attack and the main theme of the film plays during that scene. In the following scene, the audience knows of the presence of the shark, because of the music.