There are many different types of sound that can be included in a filmed production.  If you are interested in the inner workings of audio, you may be wondering what the different types are.  Let’s take a closer look.

The entire soundtrack of a film is comprised of human voice, sound effect, and background music.  These must be balanced correctly in order to flow as they should from scene to scene.  The production crew will consider dialogue, synchronous and asynchronous sound, and music when working with the audio.


In film, these are the spoken lines that come from the actors.  Dialogue helps to establish the personality of each of the players in the film.  Dialogue must be in sync with the gestures, body language and movements, and general appearance of the character in order to be viewed as realistic by the audience.  By contrast, dialogue can also serve to create characters of absurdity such as an actor in a comedy who dresses as an animal in disguise but still speaks like a man or attempts a foreign accent or dialect.

Sound Effects

These will typically be both synchronous and asynchronous.  Synchronous sounds are those sounds which are synchronized or matched with what is viewed such as in voiceover or when a character is playing an instrument and the sound of the instrument is included.  Asynchronous sound effects are not matched with what’s being viewed on screen.  This could be narrative dialogue placed over moving scenery such as in a documentary, or background sounds that help to amplify the emotional effects of a scene.  For example, a tornado siren could be included in the distance while a family struggles to get to their basement as a storm approaches.

Background music

Background audio is not meant to be noticeable and shouldn’t detract from the dialogue or what is occurring on screen.  Victorious music might be played after a soccer team kicks a winning goal.  The Jaws movies included now-famous warning music before the shark attacked.  Sometimes, this is simply soft audio that sets a comfortable, loving, or calm mood.  The background music is supposed to be noticed more by the subconscious and induce appropriate feelings for each scene being visualized.

All of these sound elements combine to make a lasting impression on the audience.  They are intricately interwoven throughout and an important part of the final product, even when only subtle.

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