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Chapter 2. Audio for Film, Video, and Mu... > The Components of a Soundtrack

The Components of a Soundtrack

Creating a soundtrack is perhaps the most complicated audio engineering task you can take on. You must not only capture dialog (words spoken by people on-screen) and narration (words spoken by someone off-screen), but also the sounds people make on screen as they move around, called foley sounds. Foley sounds include footsteps, doors opening and closing, papers rustling—you get the idea. Then there are imaginary sounds, such as the sound a spaceship makes traveling through the vacuum of space. I consider this an imaginary sound because sound cannot travel in a vacuum. Such sounds are called special effects, and they include bigger-than-life sounds like the unrealistic gunshots and body punches in the movies and on TV. Last, but certainly not least, is music. Music can take the form of the score or background music, environmental music such as the jukebox in Happy Days, and incidental music such as songs playing over the ending credits.

Dialog and Narration

Dialog and narration make up the most important element in any soundtrack except for a music video. In order to communicate information and emotional content effectively, speech must be clearly heard. Taking the time to perfect dialog and narration tracks will pay dividends later, when they are combined with other elements of the soundtrack.


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