Sound Design brought to you in Living Color


Blair Jollands is a London, UK based sound designer, who has worked on television series on channels including Sky and Channel 4. Having worked on Shameless, Poldark, Fortitude, and Our Girl to name but a few, Jollands is always pushing the boundaries to create sound to compliment the picture.

“I work within the realms of drama, dramatic sound design.”

“People ask “What is sound design?” It can be music sound design, it can be foley – recorded sounds like theatrical sound design, live theatre and it can be dramatic sound design which is recording something real, something organic, then manipulating it and turning it into something else that when you look at a picture on a screen you might think that the sound has come from what you’re seeing, but as a matter of fact is actually coming from something that you’ve created to make that picture seem larger than life.”

“At the beginning of a project I will meet with the director and the rest of the sound team, and they will give us a brief of the world that they have created in picture, and we’ll talk about key words, key feelings, brainstorm what it’s going to sound like. We’re given an epic looking cinematic picture so we need to bring to the table a great sound palette to match that. That’s the great challenge with sound design.”

“For example, in a series there was this blood aurora which was connected to this demon that appeared on earth every 60 years, connected to the spirit world and reality. Doing research after meeting with the director and the writer, does an aurora have a sound? Apparently, yes, like the sound of birds. The director wanted a static and electrical element to it. I took just a basic bird chorus and played around with the sustain, filter, and delays, and the feedback by using the organic sound of nature.”

“A big part of being a sound designer is to create a palette of sounds that doesn’t clash with what the composer is doing, so I’m always aware to keep the sounds as organic and as granular as possible. The great thing about Matrix 12, which is one of my favourite soft synths, is that it has some really cool sounds that sound organic. Because sound designers are masters of disguise we have to take out the melodic elements so it becomes something else.”

“I start with the synthesizer and create something that sounds natural.”

“I had to create a bed of wasps, and in the Mini V I found a great sound that I could filter and turn this into an atmosphere that sounds exactly like wasps swarming. If there’s a hint of musical tone I will filter it out, the filter in the Mini V is very flexible.”

“I’ve been working on this feature film called Pylon, the director was asking for sounds that are static, but also with movement. With the Matrix 12 there are so many complexities, and with the control through MIDI learn it really opens up.”

“For me it’s natural to shape sound to the movement, for example if a guy turns around I can add a layer for tension. The Arturia software instruments with depth and movement, like the Prophet V and Solina V, create interesting dimensions.”

“For a challenge to myself, to go from a synthesis direction and go backwards or see what realms are out there to create new sounds, you don’t know where it’s come from, and that can be created into something that’s completely random and alien but works with a picture magically.”

Check out Blair's website