SFFS Student Handout: Sound in Film

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POSTED BY: San Francisco Film Society

CREATED: Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Sound can be divided into two types: 

Diegetic sound is any sound where the source is visible on the screen, or is implied to be present by the action or environment of the story. With diegetic sound, you basically hear what you see. When it comes to diegetic sound, filmmakers must make sure the sound is clear. 

Non-diegetic sound is sound that does not occur as part of the action and cannot be heard by the film’s characters (background). Non-diegetic sound, which includes music or voiceover, is largely determined by artistic choices and can greatly impact the tone of a film. 

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