Audio – Key Terminology

Audio – Sound Definitions

What is ‘Sound Design’?

Sound design is the process of discovering, creating, manipulating sound. It is used in a variety of areas through out the media industry such as television production, theatre, sound recording, filming, post-production, and many more types of media.

Describe the role of a sound designer.

A Sound Designer is responsible getting the sound effects, whether recorded or live. He/She is also responsible for setting up the playback equipment and must make sure the board operator is working and the setting are correct.

What is 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 ( = source music)

Diegetic sound is any sound presented as originated from source within the film’s world.

Another term for Diegetic sound is ‘actual sounds’


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

Another term for Non-Diegetic sound is ‘Commentary sound’.

What is ‘Foley’?

The definition on Wikipedia for ‘Foley’ is ‘relating to or concerned with the addition of recorded sound effects after the shooting of a film’.

Describe the role of a Foley artist

A ‘Foley artist’ makes real life sound effects using real props. These sounds have to be very specific: A Foley artist normally creates audio for little effects such as a slap. An explosion is the job for the ‘Audio engineers.

What is ADR

Automated dialogue replacement (ADR) is when dialogue is recorded by the original actor in post production to improve audio quality or make any necessary changes (also known as a “looping session”).

Provide examples of why ADR might be used

As previously mentioned, ADR may be used to make the audio of a certain scene more clear or to make changes to the way something was said.

What does the term ‘clean sound’ mean when recording?

A clean sound speaks for itself. It is close to a pure tone, like you get from a real instrument being played well.

Why is ‘clean sound’ improtant ?

Clean sound is important because audio is a key part in any music videos, films and radios for example. If the audio is distorted, the certain type of media will get bad reviews and also sound terrible.

What is a buzz track or a wild track?

The term buzz track tends to mean general ambient sound, so basically the background music of a scene. They are typically recorded on location before or after the main action has been recorded.

Why would a sound editor need a buzz track or a wild track?

When shooting occurs, there is often no background noise apart from what is said by the actors. A buzz track helps to alleviate any unnatural silences in film. It is a soundtrack that contains low background noises.

What impact can music have on an audience? – Consider how using both a score and/or existing songs can help with conveying a meaning.

Music can change the feelings of the audience, a classic example of this is when a piano is playing a sad tune in the background of a sad scene, often without the music the scene is half as sad but since the music adds atmosphere you feel the emotion a lot more. Another example is in horror movies when there is a low dull tune which tends to build up creating more and more tension.

What is a sound recordist

A sound recordist, is the member of a film crew or television crew responsible for recording all sound on set during the filmmaking or television production using professional audio equipment.

Provide a list of equipment a sound recordist might use

Sound Recorder, Timecode Slate, Microphone.

What is a boom?

The best definition I could find for boom is a deep, prolonged, resonant sound.

What is a dead cat or high wind gag/shield?

This is a piece of equipment that looks like a ball of fur (hence the name) and what is does is protect your cameras microphone from wind in the background which if it is a strong wind can completely ruin audio.

Once upon a time in the West Essay – 

Straight off the bat of this opening sequence there is foley and non diegetic sounds. First of all we hear droplets of water falling onto a characters boot, which in real life would be very difficult to capture, therefore this sound of water falling onto the boot was added in post production to emphasise it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 11.28.35.png

Furthermore, a few seconds later a non diegetic sound of a fly has been added, however you do not actually see the fly on the screen, it is just implied because the actor is looking around and waving his hand near his face as if he was trying to swat it.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 11.28.47.png

You can sense the actors frustration through the use of foley. There is a little background wind, but also primarily your attention is drawn to the creaking of a fence, the repetition of this fence, the buzzing of the fly leads you to believe that the main character is obviously bored or trying to relax, he later goes on to manage catching the fly in the barrel of his gun.

As the train enters the area (we can tell it is closing in due to the noise of the train getting louder) the relaxed character releases the fly from his gun and it flies off, signalling the beginning of the film in my opinion. Gun clicks and footsteps are all added in to this scene to add tension I believe. There is no music for the first 4 minutes, only sounds, so each time one of these sounds happens you feel a little more uneasy. As the train pulls up there are gun clicks and close ups to increase the tension. It is when the speaking begins that a slow tension beat kicks in making the viewer unsure as to what is going to happen. Up until this point, from when the train arrives the tense music is making you nervous as to what significance the train has, you are left puzzled when a bag is thrown of the train and the train leaves, taking the music with it, leaving silence again. However a harmonic starts playing once again building up more tension from the cowboys that just got off the train.

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 12.18.18

After a gun fight leaving supposedly everyone dead, the slow creaking of the ‘fence’ which later tuned out to be a mill, starts up again as one of the characters sits up as he survived, then the scene ends. So in this scene we have experienced many forms of non-diegetic, diegetic foley to make this scene intense. Without these sounds the scene would’ve dragged on and ben boring it is the sounds that completed the story and gave the viewer some sort of sense as to what was happening.

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