Audio in film | In-depth #2


A big part of film in the modern age is audio and audio effects. Of course, way back in day, silent films did exist. However, there is a reason they aren’t as popular today as they were back then.

Audio is a big contributor to the mood and ambiance of a film, whether it is dietetic or non-dietetic.

Dietetic refers to sounds that occur in the world we see on the screen, such as dialogue, rain, footsteps etc.

On the other hand, non-dietetic refers to sounds that are not inside the world on the screen. (i.e. things the characters can’t hear, but we can) This includes music, suspense sound effects (like the ones found in horror movies) etc.

This being said, no matter the type of sound effect, there are some values that can be applied to all audio:


Volume contributes to the intensity of audio, which can make a scene change the mood of a scene. For instance, if someone is yelling at you, the increased volume in their voice would infer anger or aggression. Compare this to if someone was whispering and being very quiet, this would infer that they are being secretive. The same concept can be applied to film and different audio clips to set a tone during a scene.


Altering pitch in a scene is another way to further immerse the audience in the film. Depending on the pitch of an effect or sound, the audience may react in certain ways. A higher pitched sounds like shrill screams, create a sense of anxiety or stress. However, lower pitched sounds like thunder, help comfort the audience and create a sense of relaxation.


The Tempo to audio in a scene is a very good way to hint increasing or decreasing action in a scene. A study done by students at the University of Wisconsin provide evidence to further conclude that the tempo of music effects the heart rate of individuals. This can be used to a director’s advantage when planning for a scene. If they want to convey suspense, the director may want to make the tempo of the music/audio slower. For a more exciting scene, the tempo would be higher.

All of these factors are to be considered when planning audio for a scene, and there are a lot of different programs that can be used to manipulate audio to do so. To practice my skills with audio manipulation, for our dance unit in gym, I made a remix of a variety of different songs and transitions. The songs have a variety of different tempos and pitch, but all have the same volume (for the sake of gym).

Here is the mashup:


Works Cited:

Cinémathèq, Pacific. “Sound in Filmmaking.” The On-line Production Resource at Pacific Cinémathèque Sound in Filmmaking (n.d.): n. pag. Pacific Cinémathèq. Web.

Of Wisconsin, University, and Lab 601, Group 10: Robyn Armon, Adam Fisher, Brittney Goldfarb, Caley Mil. “Effects of Music Tempos on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Skin Conductance after Physical Exertion.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Learn about Film. “Film Sound Basics.” Learn about Film

Learn about Film. “Using Sound in Your Film.” Learn about Film.


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