Unit Title 38 soundtrack production for the moving image Name

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Creative Media Production TV & Film RESEARCH LOG

Unit Title 38 soundtrack production for the moving image

Name: Benjamin Robert Zagato Unsworth

Project Title

Introduction into soundtrack for film

Research Question

The different types of sound within film

Method of research





Research Findings:

For each of these categories, consider these overarching issues:

  • The level of engagement between visual and aural elements

  • How is the sound element presented stylistically

  • Synchronization--is the source of the sound visible as the source of the sound

  • Certain uses of sound can establish literal meanings of continuity at the shot and scene levels, while other uses of sound can be especially effectively as a “bridge” between and among scenes to form sequences or among intercut scenes in parallel editing.  In other words, just as we have discussed how visual elements work differently at different levels of the narrative, so do sound elements.



  • Narration; while the camera can act as a narrator as equally as any other film concept or technique, oftentimes, a film will use a traditional narrator, usually a character involved in the action of the narrative.  Voice/over (v/o) is a term reserved specifically for dialogue that is presented without the person speaking visible.

  • Word choice and semantics.   Just as in any literary work that takes advantage of narration, a film reading pay close attention to the words themselves as words (denotation and connotation)

  • Words can have symbolic or poetic meanings as well based on how they sound.  In the English language, the word “rough” has a sort of rough sound to it, while something like “boing” has a playful, onomatopoetic value to it.

  • Dialogue can have a subtext that alters the denotation.  (Consider how some new lovers can talk about the most mundane and innocent matters, and actually be referring to their romance.)

Cinematographic affects such as slow motion, fade-outs, etc. can be used in an aural capacity as well.



  • Consider formal and theoretical properties of music as music (tempo, rhythm/pace, tenor, key, pitch, volume).

  • Lyrics that are part of the music can work like dialogue.

  • Ambient music generally refers to the types of music we would expect given the tone and context of the scene.  Romantic music makes sense in a French restaurant, even if we do not see the band or orchestra performing.

  • Instrumentation often can provide symbolic meanings based on the types of sounds and the arrangements.

  • Often music can supplement the meanings of the action provided by the visual information.  Consider music that coincides perfectly in synch with action; cartoons do this in a playful sort of way with a technique called mickey moussing.  Consider also music that slightly foreshadows or slightly shadows an action revealed through the visual information.  Between and among scenes in sequences and among intercut scenes in parallel editing, music can “bridge” the theme of the narrative form one part to the next.  A recurring musical piece, in fact, is called a motif.

Pay special attention to how the apparent meanings from music can actually work in ironic counterpoint to the meanings provided by visual information.



      Noise.  All those sound elements that do not fit in either category of music or dialogue fit into this catchall category.

      Sound effects are more specific and patterned than music, but less specific and patterned than dialogue.  So, a bell ring can be as literal as spoken dialogue (“hey, wake up--it’s time to get to work.”) and more tactful and perhaps interesting, while being more literal than the suggestion offered by a complementary musical presentation.

      Sound effects can have a musical quality, and so can carry the strengths of music.

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 (= source music) 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. Another term for diegetic sound is actual sound  

Non-diegetic sound 

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

Non-diegetic sound is represented as coming from the source outside story space. 

The distinction between diegetic or non-diegetic sound depends on our understanding of the conventions of film viewing and listening.  We know of that certain sounds are represented as coming from the story world, while others are represented as coming from outside the space of the story events.  A play with diegetic and non-diegetic conventions can be used to create ambiguity (horror), or to surprise the audience (comedy). Another term for non-diegetic sound is commentary sound. 

Internal logic 

The logic by which the sound flow is apparently born out of the narrative situation itself.  It is a mode of connecting images and sounds that appears to follow a flexible organic process of development, variation, and growth, born out of the narrative situation itself and the feelings it inspires.  

Internal logic tends toward continuous and progressive modifications in the sonic flow, and makes use of sudden breaks only when the narrative so requires.  The sound swells, dies, reappears, diminishes, or grows as if cued by the characters' feelings, perceptions, or behaviors. 

External logic 

The logic by which the flow of sound includes effects of discontinuity as non-diegetic interventions.  External logic brings out effects of discontinue and rupture to the represented content for example: 

  • Editing that disrupts the continuity of an image or a sound

  • Sudden changes of tempo

  • Breaks

The modern action-adventure film engages external logic quite often to reinforce the tension of the action. Not uncommon is an unexpected double break in the audiovisual flow - a synchronous cut in both sound and image track. 


A sound effects technique for synchronous effects or live effects.  

Foley artists match live sound effects with the action of the picture.  

The sound effects are laid "manually" and not cut in with film. Foleying is an excellent means of supplying the subtle sounds that production mikes often miss. The rustling of clothing and a squeak of a saddle when a rider mounts his horse give a scene a touch of realism that is difficult to provide using other effects methods. A Foley artist making dispassionate love to his or her own wrist probably created a steamy sex scene.  

The good Foley artist must "became" the actor with whom they are synching effects or the sounds will lack the necessary realism to be convincing. The Foley crew will include the artist or "walker," who makes the sound, and a technician or two to record and mix it.    

A Foley stage often appears to be storage areas for the studio's unwanted junk. Metal laundry tubes are filled to the brim with metal trays, tin pie plates, empty soda cans, hubcaps, bedpans, knives, forks and broken staple guns. These crash tubes are used for anything from comedy crashes to adding presence (brightness and naturalness) to something as serious as a car crash.  Embedded in the floor is the heart of any Foley stage - the walking surfaces (for the production of all types of footsteps) 

Automatic dialogue replacement (ADR) is a process of re-recording dialogue in the studio in synchronization with the picture. There are at least three roles in the ADR process: the actor, the recording engineer, and the sound editor. The actor has to recreate his or her performance and perfectly match up his or her speech to that of the film. The recording engineer has to recreate acoustic spaces so that it doesn’t sound like an actor is in a recording studio. The sound editor has to pick and choose the best parts of multiple takes, combine them into one composite clip, and keep everything synchronized to the picture. The Multi take Editor in Soundtrack Pro was created to address the needs of the sound editor in this scenario.

Evaluation of Research Process and your findings

With this research I have been given a bigger understanding about how soundtrack works within film. For the purposes of my own film project I will most likely create my own soundtrack to use within the visual clips. My film could benefit from a commentary or voice over however I want the visuals to do most of the talking showing the audience how the protagonist lost and won. This can be helped by the soundtrack changing with the visuals dependant on how the protagonist is doing.

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