Ambient sound (AKA ambient audio, ambience, atmosphere, atmos or background noise) means the background sounds which are present in a scene or location. Common ambient sounds include wind, water, birds, crowds, office noises, traffic, etc.
Ambient sound is very important in video and film work. It performs a number of functions including:
- Providing audio continuity between shots.
- Preventing an unnatural silence when no other sound is present.
- Establishing or reinforcing the mood.
There are several types of ambient sound used in film production. Their exact names and meanings may vary but these are some common definitions:
- Matching ambient sound: Any ambient sound recorded to match the ambient sound of a scene.
- Wild sound: Background noise with distinct sounds, i.e. more than ambient sound, which is not synchronised with the main vision. Example: Children playing in a playground.
- Buzz track: A general term for ambient sound.
- Room tone: The sound of an empty room, or a room in which all the actors are standing silently.