Surprise + non-diegetic sound

Watch this short stop-action, paying attention to how the film gets you to wonder “What’s going to happen next?”

Assignment: make a 2+ minute film in which, at least once, you consciously aim to create in the audience the feeling/thought of

  1. anticipating something and then
  2. giving/not giving it to them in a way that’s surprising.

An easy way to approach this is to build off of a sequence of actions that we already understand (e.g., making guacamole).

(The New York Times this week has an article on how to do this surprise thing, as suspense.)

In addition, it’s time to learn how to use “non-diegetic” sound effects, i.e., sounds that would NOT be heard if you were there in the scene in real life.* Have a minimum of 3 in this new film.

Limitation: no turning things into guns or bombs. Too easy, too obvious. It would be great if some people went for “subtle” (e.g., roulette wheel rumble in Lola) instead of stupid/funny (not that there’s anything wrong with stupid/funny…)

Due: first class day after vacation

Quick tutorial:

There are lots of effects and sounds in iMovie, and thousands more online.

Old clip that would satisfy the assignment if it included two more sound effects:

Notice how this uses cutaways to a second person observing the action as a placeholder for ourselves in the audience.

Old cat clip that would satisfy the assignment, albeit kind of non-interestingly:


* “Non-diegetic sound” obviously includes all movie soundtracks that the people in the scenes would not actually be hearing, but we’re not going to count such music for this assignment. Just added sound effects.