Audio narration as a part of video expression

Audio narration consists of speech, effects, music or silence. Elements of audio narration can play simultaneously, alternately or be synchronised to each other or the footage.

Sounds have a significant but often inconspicuous effect on the interpretation of an audio-visual story – and complete silence is hardly the least effective means of expression.

Sounds affect not only the interpretation of the footage but also the interpretation of other audio elements. Melancholy music that provides the background for speech makes people interpret the content of the speech differently than if the speech was accompanied by happy or pompous music.

Listening and hearing are two wholly different things. The fact that people are surrounded by sound in their daily lives results in audio narration often escaping the viewer’s attention, and the meanings it produces are left unanalysed.

Listening is a skill that can be learned. Paying attention to and analysing what you hear is the first thing to learn if you want to understand and create audio narration.

Glossary of audio narration

  • A voice over
    A production technique, in which an audio narrator is superimposed to the visual narration. It is also used to lay audio translation on the original voice.
  • Diegetic sound
    A concept that refers to all kinds of audio narration that relates to the narrative space of a movie. All sounds whose source is present in the movie world are diegetic: for example someone could turn on the radio and consequently the music starts playing. Non-diegetic sound is something that has been added in post-production to create an atmospheric effect, such as background music that a character does not hear.
  • Fade in
    Increasing sound volume from silence to where it can be heard.
  • Fade out
    The silencing of narration. It is commonly used to signify for example the move from one location to another.
  • A crossfade
    The combination a fade out and a fade in, for example from one shot or one audio source to another.

Keep Reading:

Lighting the image; The characteristics of radio and TV journalismGraphic Design and Illustration
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This article was updated on January 10th 2020.