Audio or sound, refers to everything we hear in a production. It is just as important as the picture however many of us under-appreciate quality audio. Think about the last time you watched a movie and walked away singing the theme song. Did you stop and consider what other types of sounds were used? It was not just the on-screen picture that helped to set the mood, atmosphere, location and overall tone of the film. Whatever type of videos you utilise in your business, understanding the basics of sound is a practical way to take your filmmaking to the next level. Here is a quick break down of the different types of sound that are used in film.



Dialogue is speaking which occurs on screen, often between two or more people. Dialogue helps to move the story forward, reveal characters and communicates information. It is important that the dialogue speaks to the intended audience using the appropriate language and tone.


Voice over or narration.

Commonly used in documentaries, a voice over is heard speaking but not seen. Typically, it is a narrator telling a story which is pre-recorded and placed on top of film. If you are telling a visual story, narration can give your film some structure and fill in information gaps. It can also help to create consistency by avoiding the use of too many voices in the film. Just like the dialogue, the language and type of voice used should be carefully considered as it is essentially viewed as the ‘voice’ of the company.


Sound effects

These include sounds which are created for the film such as office chatter, footsteps, or wind. They can simulate reality (snapping carrots to simulate breaking bones) or create illusions (office chatter to create the illusion that two actors are in a busy office). If the live sound does not sound good or is not audible then get creative and fake it!



While no one has a soundtrack to accompany their life, it has come to be expected that we should hear music in the background of certain scenes in films. Wether it’s a car chase, first kiss or bar fight, the music played helps to guide the audiences emotional response to the scene.


Ambient or natural sounds

These are the background noises that are present at any location. What are the ambient sounds that you can hear now? You may be in an office and hear traffic and the air conditioner, or in a park and hear birds chirping and the wind blowing. No matter your location it is most likely that you are not in complete silence. While silence has a power in itself, complete silence is usually unnatural and basic ambience or background noise of the location should continue. Ambient sounds also allow for continuity between shots and can establish and reinforce mood.


Now you understand the basic types of sound, stayed tuned for the next blog where we will provide you with some simple tips to create incredible audio. 

At Activate Entertainment we are producers of film, animation & augmented reality applications for clients 

big and small. Engage us to produce your film or media. From concept through to delivery we are experts in 

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