In this activity developed by EDC's Center for Children and Technology, students explore how sound is used to create meaning in a shot by listening for three types of sound: voice-over, music, and ambient sound.
To explore how sound is used to create meaning in a shot, listen for three types of sound while watching the video segment:
VOICE-OVER: What does the narrator sound like? What kind of a person do you imagine the narrator to be? What perspective does the narrator bring?
MUSIC: Where is music added? What kind of music is it? Why was it added?
AMBIENT: What real sounds, recorded in the scene, do you actually hear? Are there sounds you aren't hearing, that may have been filtered out?
Separating sound and images makes it easier to notice what both contribute, separately and together, to the meaning of the shot. Turn down the volume on the computer while playing a video segment and let students guess what it is trying to say.
You can then turn the sound back on and hide the video window by minimizing it after you click the PLAY button. This allows your students to pay close attention to sound.
When you play the video with the sound, they will find it easier to notice the difference between ambient sound, the kind that you would hear if you were in the scene, and the kind of sound, both voice-over and music tracks, that are added to the video afterward. This technique helps students to become aware of the deliberate choices made by filmmakers to convey their message.