Film School: Silence, Room Tone, and Ambient Sound

'Why You Need Room Tone In Your Videos' | Mark Holtze 'Why You Need Room Tone In Your Videos' | Mark Holtze

How the sound of “nothing” can say everything.

Every Frame A Painting explores how powerful a storytelling tool the “lack” of sound in a film’s sound design can be, in this look at Martin Scorsese – The Art of Silence:

Silence is as important as, if not more important than, any other sound in a film – in a longer-form installment of her video essay series, Candice Drouet shows us just how much there is to hear when there’s “nothing” to hear in film:

Try It Yourself

Room Tone and Ambient SoundFilm Editing Pro demonstrates Cutting Smoother Dialogue with Room Tone & Ambiance – even if you didn’t manage to record silence on set or location:

Stressing their importance, editor Mark Holtze demonstrates how he begins dialogue editing by first constructing a bed of room tone (“to give the illusion of continuity”), and then using ambient sound (“to add to the story”):

Environmental SoundPeter McKinnon demonstrates how to world-build using self-recorded environmental sounds (demo begins around 2:57):

Further Viewing

A roundup of video essays about sound design in feature films: