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Nonfiction Sound and Story for Film and Video by Cheryl Ottenritter, Amy DeLouise

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1Sound Basics

Sound is essential to storytelling. Good sound propels us through a narrative, triggering certain emotions, reminding us of themes, and helping us recall information. Along with the visuals, sound creates a satisfying film experience in both fiction and nonfiction stories. When the sound isn’t right, we know it. The wrong music can ruin the mood for a scene. An interview that echoes becomes distracting if we can’t see a large space in the shot to justify the echo. A soundtrack with too prominent a drum track intrudes on important words in an interview. In each of these instances, the story is disrupted, rather than supported, by sound. By contrast, when sound “works,” we often don’t notice it. We laugh, we cry, we absorb important ...

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