When working within Story-Space, at what point do you generally begin to move into working on the Non-Diegetic (i.e. the subtextual/emotional) part of the design? I know that every space, even a literally described one, can carry emotional context with it, but I'm wondering if I shouldn't wait until the scenes are better established before starting to interpret them emotionally. I don't want to jump the gun and marry myself to sounds that end up being misleading or incorrect...



I usually don't start with either. I'll layer in the most rediculus sound/music possible. Something that I have no real connection with to the film, put it in no particular order and at random. Then I do random processing, reversals, etc and watch the film in it's entirety. After that I remove everything and start from scratch.

  • Wow, this is an interesting approach! What is the effect of working this way? Why do you do it like that? How big are the projects where this approach is useful? Apr 13 '11 at 17:30
  • The projects can be feature films or smaller, from doing this I use sound as a tool to break the stereotypeds seeded by image and sound relationship
    – Jennifer
    Apr 13 '11 at 19:08
  • @Jennifer, You = Genius
    – g.a.harry
    Apr 13 '11 at 19:57
  • @Jennifer, I am still puzzled by this approach. How long do you work in this "mode". Do you keep it to yourself or do you show the best parts to others? Apr 15 '11 at 9:41
  • Just as long as I feel is necessary. It isn't always the BEST way to work, just an idea.
    – Jennifer
    Apr 20 '11 at 19:28

It's all part of the same approach to me ie I follow my instincts (and then evolve the results) as to what the film/scene/moment needs. I've always found the term diegetic to be used by people analyzing films rather than making them (that's not a criticism, just an observation) Surely all parts of the soundtrack carry emotion depending on their context, so for me it's hard/impossible to generalize about. I am stating the obvious but film is a complex art, and each film reveals its meaning/s over time. There is no time too soon or too late to be thinking about the emotional contribution sound can make...

  • Agreed. Having the semiotic background to discuss diegesis is great, but if you're in a spotting session or are designing and you just mention or throw in a non-diegetic sound, your team's reaction will tell you everything. If they react positively - or perhaps better, if not at all - then it's probably the right thing! Another quote that's less highbrow comes to mind: "Ain't 'nuthin' to it but to do it." :-p Apr 16 '11 at 17:22

I go there right away, I can't help it!

If I intuitively feel like adding an emotional sound to a scene, it is probably the right emotion for me. It is a starting point for building the emotional sound.

It may end up sounding differently in the end, in fact it always does, but I need to attack the problem and work with it, in order to understand how the emotion interacts with the film.

When the director sees my work, he may like it or he may not like it, or he may like some of it. Either way working with sound for films is a collaboration between the sound designer and the director, where the sound designer helps the director complete his vision for the film.

  • So, basically, just go with it and stop thinking about it so much...
    – g.a.harry
    Apr 13 '11 at 16:10
  • @ g.a.harry Well most films do require that you think a bit, and you have to stay within your audio concept, but your gut feeling, your intuition, is invaluable. Apr 15 '11 at 9:38

It depends on how brave and confident you are

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