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January 20, 2022

Beginners Guide: Use Sound to Tell Your Story

To give your film an impact, sound is a really powerful tool for storytelling. Planning the soundtrack in detail will give your film the edge in wowing your audience.

Soundtracks can include lots of different elements and you’d normally build them up in layers, with different kinds of sound on different tracks.

‘Authentic’ sounds

Your film should include sounds that feel natural to the scene: A character’s speech, the roar of a speeding train, or the bang of your protagonist’s revolver are all examples of diegetic sound. A diegetic sound is any sound that originates from the world of a film.

Let’s say you are filming a scene in the snow with a girl walking. Your sound mixer will probably just pick up a confusing mush of sound. You may not be able to hear the footsteps. Lose the sound-recording, and use separate sound effects for the frigid wind blowing, and the footsteps; your scene will be much more convincing. By doing this, you’re using the sounds as if they were closeups, to focus attention on important things.

You can use diegetic sound that matches things you see on screen, as we just explained with the walking feet on snow. Audio that lines up precisely with what’s happening on screen is called synchronous sound, or sync sound. Punching sounds during a fight scene, character dialog, or a rush of air as a passenger sticks his head out the window of a moving car are all examples of synchronous sound.

Imagine for a moment there is a shot of a girl, the camera is steady on her, but we hear a glass break. Suddenly there is mystery and tension. This kind of sound, which comes from something that’s not on the screen, is called asynchronous sound.


Music reinforces emotion in parallel with the images you see on screen; helping to set the tone and mood and to manipulate your audience into feeling the way you want them to. In addition, the music tells us about characters, about major crossroads in the story, about the deep implication beneath a scene. Deep, menacing tones tell us that something scary is about to happen, or that a character who seems friendly is actually dangerous. It can tell us when a character is hiding something or being truthful. It gives the audience a way to interpret what they are seeing with their eyes. Even though it’s a subconscious effect this happens quite fast.

But what about removing music altogether? The power of silence. A sudden change from hectic music to silence can be shocking, and a few seconds of silence in a dialogue scene can build up anticipation and tension.

A good film is generally one that can appeal to multiple senses all at once and evoke a certain emotion or reaction to it. Music is one such tool that can intensify and stimulate the sense of hearing and make the film an even more enjoyable one.

The Future of film is yours to shape. Your film, our mission. That’s why we take pride in helping you. The Film Cut is here to effortlessly manage your post-production needs, all in one place. So what are you waiting for? Contact Us today, we’d love to hear about your new film.

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