What is diegetic sound?

Learn what diegetic sound means in filmmaking and how you can use it to enhance your videos with creative sound design.

We like seeing things with our own eyes. Video is an inherently visual art form, which probably helped it kill the radio star — but without proper sound effects, even the most impactful visuals can fall flat.

The sounds used in videos fall into different categories. Here we’ll explore diegetic sound and find out how it impacts a video.

Diegetic sound explained.

Video’s three sound categories are diegetic, non-diegetic, and trans-diegetic. Their names stem from the Greek word “diegesis,” which means narration. Sound is diegetic when the viewer perceives it as coming from within the world depicted in the video.

A character’s speech, the roar of a speeding car, or the bang of Clint Eastwood’s revolver are all examples of diegetic sound. The source of diegetic sound doesn’t necessarily have to be on screen – the rumbling of thunder or background piano music in a restaurant scene are also diegetic sounds.

Simply, if the source of a sound is in the story world and a character could hear it, it’s diegetic. Conversely, the soundtrack or narrator’s voice-over are non-diegetic sounds.

Mix different sound categories.

You can mix these two sound categories to create trans-diegetic sound or sound that transitions between the two. For example, a video could begin with non-diegetic narration that turns into a character speaking to another. Conversely, a character could start whistling a melody that swells into an orchestral rendition as the scene changes. Trans-diegetic sound helps you build continuity between scenes.

Adobe Premiere Pro features AI-powered sound tools that make it easy for you to please both the viewer’s ears and eyes. Add and cut audio tracks, create booming sound effects, and much more.

Learn more useful video editing tips that can inspire your filmmaking. Then, discover everything you can do to create, edit and more with Premiere Pro.