NED2: Soundtrack Analysis

Posted: March 5, 2014 by Alan Hardcastle in CMP 12_14
The purpose of these tasks is to:

Provide you with some simple tools to enable you to look more closely at the effect of sound in a film sequence. We will then tie this into the visual analysis that we have previously done, further exploring how a product is created for an audience and influencing our personal responses to a media product.


Break down a filmic sequence and identify all the sounds used.

Explain why these sounds were used and what effect they had on the audience.

Task 1


You will already have analysed a moving image sequence for Single Camera Techniques. It should be about 3-5 minutes maximum – it can be a scene, could be a trailer.  It is a good idea to stick with this, as you will get a better understanding of the overall sequence for unit 6. If you didn’t get screen grabs, shame on you! Get screen grabs – not every frame, but every major move – turn it into a photographic storyboard.

Start a word document, and paste these into the document in order.

Task 2

Identify and Describe:-

Now that each screen grab represents a bit of the sequence, listen to it and identify all the sounds, classifying them into the following:

  • Dialogue
  • Sound Effects
  • Foley
  • Ambient
  • Music

You may want to define these before you start (Hint – this is a recap!)

On your word document, you could add a table below the screengrab, aor just use these headings. But for each one, identify the sound, describe it – don’t just say “Bloke speaks” but tell us what happens, e.g. –

“Here’s looking at you, Kid” spoken in slightly hushed tones, showing love towards female character.

Task 3

Talking about them in Media Jargon.

Add some technical terms to describe the sounds you have identified and described – For example;

  • Diegetic
  • External diegetic
  • Non-diegetic
  • Mood
  • Meaning
  • Illusion
Task 4

And the point is….?

Sooooo… All well and good, we have a bunch of sounds – but the point is that these sounds are helping to tell the story, and have an effect on the audience. So, what effect are they having on the audience and how are they helping to tell the story? (see what I did there?)

So, for each screen grab, tell me

  • How the sound links to the visuals to effect the audiences understanding of that frame?
  • Discuss the film makers choice when assembling sound & Vision to achieve a purpose.

And remember – everything is on purpose in a film. NEVER think otherwise. See Altman below, plus many other good books in the LRC about sound in films to prove this point.

Add this as a paragraph to your word document, below the identified list of sounds.

Task 5


Once all this is done. Add it to your brief. One post per image, tagged the name of the film and #soundtrack.

If that is too much, send me the word document – but it will be big with all those images embedded into it!

Sources of information


Altman, R., 1992. Sound theory, sound practice, New York: Routledge.

Jones, C., 2000. The guerilla film makers handbook 2nd ed., fully rev. and updated., New York: Continuum.

Kenworthy, C., 2009. Master shots : 100 advanced camera techniques to get an expensive look on your low-budget movie, Studio City  CA: Michael Wiese Productions.

Mackendrick, A., 2004. On Film Making New York: Faber & Faber.,

Maschwitz, S. 2007. The DV Rebels Guide. USA. Peachpit Press

Pepperman, R., 2005. Setting up your scenes : the inner workings of great films, Studio City  CA: Michael Wiese Productions.



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