Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Sound: Theory Explained

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The moving image can be found everywhere. You can see it on TV, in Film, in games or in animation, on the Internet, in advertising and on hand-held devices such as mobile phones and tablets. Sound is also ever-present in our lives. While sound and the moving image can both exist separately, there is a relationship between them, especially in the media.

Sound can be broken down into three categories: voice, music, and sounds, such as ambient sound and sound effects. Each of these kinds of sound adds something to the Image and changes the feel of it.

Diegetic and Non-Diegetic Sound, Explained

Once more, sounds can either be digestive or non-diegetic. Diegetic sounds are those that link to something visible on screen, and can also be heard by the characters. This includes dialogue and the sounds of objects/things on the screen. Non-diegetic sound is, by contrast, all of the sounds that the audience hears but the characters cannot. This could be narration, ambient sound, “mood” music, and some sound effects. This blog post will also refer to the two forms of sounds in a number of examples ranging from TV to Film to animation. All of the sounds featured in the examples to follow have been created somehow. This analysis will also explain how these sounds are created, and who is responsible for creating them.

Voice in the Moving Image

Voice is frequently used alongside the video. It could be in the form of dialogue, narration, or interviews. Often, the use of voice with the Moving Image helps communicate ideas to the audience easily and it can change the tone of the piece.

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