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AS Film Studies
Introduction to Micro Features:
By the end of the lesson you will be able to:
• Understand and apply sound terminology to a
sequence of film
• Deconstruct how sound is used to
• The way in which sound is
used to communicate
• The manipulation and
layering of sound to create
Diegetic vs. Non-Diegetic
• Any voice, musical
passage, or sound effect
presented as originating
from a source within
the film's world is
• If it originates outside
the film (as most
background music) then
it is non-diegetic.
External Diegetic vs.
we hear Iván speaking into
the microphone as he works
on the Spanish dubbing of
Johnny Guitar (Nicholas Ray,
1954). Since he is speaking out
loud and any other character
could hear him, this is an
example of external diegetic
but eerie score that
sets up the scene
and mixes with the
battle sounds is…
we begin to hear the sounds of
the battle: horses whimpering,
weapons clashing, etc. These
sounds exist only in Anna's
troubled mind, which is highly
sensitive to works of art. These
are internal diegetic sounds
(inside of a character's mind) that
no one else in the gallery can
• Diegetic sound that comes from a source in
time either earlier or later than the images it
accompanies. While Pepa's voice is diagetic
and simultaneous, Ivan's voice is also diegetic,
and yet it is nonsimultaneous, since it comes
from a previous moment in the film.
• When a voice, often that of a character in the
film, is heard while we see an image of a
space and time in which that character is not
actually speaking. The voice over is often used
to give a sense of a character's subjectivity or
to narrate an event told in flashback.
• Sound bridges can lead in or out of a scene. They can occur at
the beginning of one scene when the sound from the previous
scene carries over briefly before the sound from the new
scene begins. Alternatively, they can occur at the end of a
scene, when the sound from the next scene is heard before
the image appears on the screen. Sound bridges are one of
the most common transitions in the continuity editing style,
one that stresses the connection between both scenes since
their mood (suggested by the music) is still the same.
• Pleonastic sound is exaggerated sound e.g.
light sabers slashing the air in Star Wars - or a
tap dripping more loudly than normal in a
horror film etc.
• A technique used to create this kind of sound
is Foley Sound
• Sounds that don’t easily match the images
they are accompanying, or even run against
them. This can have a quite disorientating
effect upon the audience and make them
question what they are seeing
• Silence – even when there is no sound this
can create an impact
• Dialogue – the tone, pitch and volume of
actors voices can all contribute to the meaning
of a scene or how the audience relate to them
THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
• Doctor Nicholas Garrigan has
become the surgeon to
dictator Idi Amin, who is so
taken by Garrigan that he
wants him to remain in
• In this scene, Nicholas arrives
back in his bungalow to
discover that it has been
‘searched’ and that his
British passport has been
exchanged for a Ugandan
one, making it almost
impossible to leave.
THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND
1. As the sequence begins, what sounds do we hear before the music
2. As the music begins we only see Nicholas’ face, not what he sees.
How is the music used to indicate that all is not well?
3. How does the music change as he picks up the photograph? What
mood or emotion is suggested?
4. As he notices the envelope, how does the music indicate that it is
unlikely to contain good news?
5. How does the music change as he opens the envelope and
discovers his new Ugandan passport? What does the music tell us
about Nicholas’ feelings?
6. The image changes to blurred headlamps. A new style of music is
heard. Try to describe this music and how it changes as he gets to
• Create a sequence of film, that uses all of the
sound examples from this lesson.
• Please bring in a sequence of film that you
think you would like to write about for your
coursework. Be prepared to discuss what
micro features cause the most effect – I will be
putting up some guidance on the blog