The emotional experiences of sound. The story of Ben Jacquier.

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Hi everyone! Today, we’re very excited to introduce a special guest: Ben Jacquier, a creative sound designer, composer, foley artist, and creator, a long-time contributor and friend of Filmmakersworld. 

With a focus on emotional experiences, Ben collaborates with artists, musicians, producers, and filmmakers worldwide.
His innovative approach and ability to design sound at every stage of the creative process have contributed to award-winning films and documentaries.

Not just any artist, but a guy who puts all the passion into what he does and also innovated the digital landscape of content creation in this niche with loads of viral concepts and videos.

Today, we delve into Ben Jacquier’s journey from different perspectives. You can learn from his story, insights, challenges, failures, and everything that a professional encounters in over a decade of experience, along with the innovative creative ideas that make him a unique player in this niche.

Ben Jacquier

Hey Ben! Let’s start!! How did your journey in music composition and sound design begin? What are your main musical influences and how do they reflect in your work?

My journey in music has always been deeply intertwined with my life experiences. From a young age, I was immersed in music, starting with learning solfège and playing the drums in the local symphony orchestra. 

However, playing the drums from sheet music felt too constrained for me, lacking the creative freedom I craved. This led me to pursue music on my terms, exploring various genres and forming connections with other musicians. 

My garage became a makeshift studio where I dove into the world of hip-hop and sound systems, experimenting with vinyl B-sides.

As my passion for music evolved, so did my interest in music production. I taught myself digital audio workstation (DAW) software like FL Studio and Cubase through YouTube tutorials. This period was defined by my focus on creating rap beats, and eventually, I set up my own studio. There, I recorded other artists, which naturally led me to refine my skills in mixing and mastering.

My curiosity didn’t stop with music. Borrowing cameras to shoot my own music videos ignited a passion for video production. I explored every facet of this new interest, from 3D creation and animation to coding.

Despite this growing passion, my primary occupation was as a snowboard instructor in the winter and a wakeboard instructor in the summer. Music and video production remained a hobby, albeit a serious one, that I pursued in my free time.

Life’s unpredictable journey eventually led me to co-direct a creative studio in Jersey, Channel Islands, for four years. This experience was a significant learning curve, where I honed my skills in various aspects of creativity, especially in composing soundtracks for a multitude of video projects the studio produced. It was an intense period of growth and learning.

Ultimately, the call of my first love—music—was too strong to ignore. I returned to France with a renewed focus on music composition for visual media and sound design, dedicating the last seven years to this craft. This transition marked a return to my roots.

This passion has always driven me to explore how sound can evoke emotions and enhance visual storytelling. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to work across a broad spectrum of projects, from composing for intense short films to creating soundscapes for luxury brands and immersive sound designs for dynamic videos.

Each project has been an opportunity to push creative boundaries, blend technology with audio, and create something truly unique.

My main musical influences are as varied as the projects I’ve worked on. They range from the intricate sound designs of film scores to the raw energy of electronic music, and everything in between. These influences are reflected in my work through a constant pursuit of innovation, whether it’s crafting a sonic universe that merges technology with the visceral sounds of race car engines, or composing music that perfectly complements the visual narrative of a project.

My goal is always to create a unified experience that resonates on a deep emotional level with the audience.

Was there a key moment that inspired your career? Any anecdotes?

A pivotal moment that truly inspired my career was when I won the award for Best Film Soundtrack at the global finale of the 48-Hour Film Project in Washington, D.C., in March 2021. Until that point, I hadn’t really felt like a “professional” in the true sense of the word, mainly because I was self-taught.

Ben Jacquier

I had to build my portfolio from the ground up, seek out clients willing to take a chance on me, and often work for very little or even for free. Receiving such recognition, despite struggling with self-doubt and the infamous imposter syndrome, was a watershed moment for me.

I remember telling myself then that perhaps I hadn’t made a mistake in choosing this path. It was a clear sign to pursue my passion wholeheartedly, to take it seriously, and to embrace all the risks that came with it.

At the time, I was still partially working as a snowboard instructor during the winters in Courchevel, living in a 30 square meter space right on the slopes, where I had set up a small studio between my couch and my bed.

Winning that award was a catalyst for change. I left my job as an instructor, moved to a quieter location not too far away, and invested in a house to build my studio, where I now work full-time throughout the year.

This transition not only marked a significant leap in my career but also solidified my commitment to my craft, turning what was once a passionate hobby into my life’s work.

We knew Ben Jacquier on Instagram as a sound designer for various commercial works. What projects do you undertake, and for what kinds of clients and niches? 

On Instagram, my portfolio in sound design covers a wide range of commercial projects. This includes creating sophisticated and cutting-edge sounds for luxury brands, like bespoke watch manufacturers, where the audio must mirror the exclusivity and innovation of the product itself.

For tech companies, I craft audio that embodies the future—energetic and forward-thinking. In the entertainment sector, my work on short films and advertisements focuses on using sound to tell a story, enhancing each scene to captivate the audience more deeply.

Sports and lifestyle brands require vibrant and dynamic soundscapes that echo their spirited and adventurous nature.

My clientele is varied, encompassing both independent creators and large corporations. The services I offer can range from composing original soundtracks for movies to sound design, mixing, or a combination of these for various projects.

Each assignment pushes me to experiment and delve into new auditory experiences, making my job continuously engaging and diverse.

Can you describe your creative process? How do you move from the initial idea to the final realization? How do you approach capturing the essence of a scene or emotion?

My creative process is pretty straightforward but flexible, adjusting to what each project needs. Here’s a simplified version of how I go from an idea to the final piece:

Starting with the Idea: First, I figure out what the main message or emotion is. If it’s about capturing a specific scene or feeling, I really try to get into that mindset, thinking about the scene’s atmosphere or the emotions involved.

Playing Around: Next, I experiment with different sounds and instruments to find something that fits the idea well. This step is all about trying things out to see what sticks, whether it’s a melody, rhythm, or a particular sound texture.

Building the Piece: Once I’ve found a few sounds or themes that work, I start putting them together into a more structured piece. This involves arranging the music and tweaking things so they flow well with the visual or narrative elements. I’ll often go back and forth with clients or collaborators here to make sure everything’s on track.

Fine-tuning: In the final step, I polish the piece, making sure every detail is just right. This could mean adjusting the mix, adding final touches, or making changes based on feedback to really capture the essence of what we’re aiming for.

Capturing the essence of a scene or emotion is about paying close attention to the details and the overall vibe. It involves using sounds that evoke the right feelings and adjusting the music’s pace to match the scene’s dynamics. Communication is key, especially when working with others, to ensure the final product truly resonates.

What has been one of the most significant challenges you’ve faced in a project, and how did you overcome it?

The first time I was approached to work on a feature film, I jumped at the opportunity without fully grasping what I was getting into. It was a project initiated by a screenwriter and a director who aimed to create an animated science fiction feature film.

Having seen my work on Instagram, they asked if I was up for the challenge of composing all the music, creating the entire sound design, and mixing the voices, music, and SFX. It was an ambitious project, especially when you break down each aspect:

For the music, I needed to compose strong themes for the “heroes,” the “villains,” battle scenes, and more. The sound design was even more demanding because, for an animated film, every sound had to be created from scratch – footsteps, armor, guns, ships, monsters, and even their voices. 

I only realized the project’s enormity after composing the main theme of the film. I remember thinking, “Great, I’ve got the main theme approved!” But that was just 4 minutes of the film, leaving 1 hour and 26 minutes of music still to compose, not to mention the sound design.

Ben Jacquier

It felt like a monumental task for just one person. Sometimes, I would spend an entire day just to create 30 seconds of the film’s sound design, all on a low budget. It was mentally exhausting to see it through to the end.

What drove me to complete this project was sheer willpower. I’m not one to give up easily. Having a competitive background in skiing and snowboarding, I’m naturally driven and refuse to accept failure without giving it my all. This project required a lot of self-reflection and hard work, and there were days I just didn’t feel up to it.

Technically, I made plenty of mistakes, which were great learning experiences. The biggest mistake was attempting to do ALL the sound design (1 hour and 30 minutes) in a single session in my DAW Studio one.

Thankfully, I had a powerful PC ( thanks to Dell), but by the end, making modifications was extremely difficult, not to mention the days spent organizing and separating stems into different sound categories.

I could talk for hours about the process, but I’m proud to have completed it. It may not be my best work in terms of quality, especially the music mixes which I didn’t have time to refine, but I’m proud of the musical ideas and themes. The album is available on every streaming platform under “Space Agents: The Mysterious Ax.”, and the movie is on Prime Video US. 

How do you see the evolution of your field with advancing technology? What do you think about AI and its impact on the world of sound design?

In the world of sound design, technology serves as a vital tool, enriching our work with a plethora of options. It’s evolving at a brisk pace, which can sometimes feel overwhelming. However, this rapid technological progress allows us to craft soundscapes that are deeper and more immersive than ever before.

As for AI, its emergence in music and sound design introduces new possibilities for creating and manipulating sounds. While AI brings exciting innovations, I believe its effectiveness hinges on the user’s skill and creativity. The analogy of 100 people driving the world’s fastest car and ending up with 100 different outcomes illustrates this point well. AI offers the tools, but the final creation reflects the individual’s unique vision and talents.

I view technology and AI as extensions that augment our creative processes. They open up new avenues for exploration and efficiency but cannot substitute the personal and emotional depth humans bring to sound design.

The future of our field, shaped by these advancements, promises new creative horizons. However, the essence of our work—a personal touch—remains paramount. Balancing the use of advanced tools while preserving our unique creative voice is the key to navigating the future of sound design.

How has social media influenced the career and creative process of Ben Jacquier? Can you share with us your journey as a digital creator?

When I returned to France, determined to pursue a career as a composer and sound designer, I faced a significant challenge. Living high in the mountains in a ski resort where I grew up, and which I had only left for travel or my adventure in Jersey, I found myself in a village of 300 inhabitants outside of winter, with only a Wi-Fi connection.

Not being naturally inclined to network in person or to sell myself through emails with a “hey, look at me, I can work for you” approach, I needed a way to showcase my work.

Ben Jacquier

After much thought, I turned to social media. My years of intense video production in Jersey had equipped me with the skills to create dynamic, attention-grabbing videos.

I wanted to demystify sound design for the general public, to show them that all the sounds in movies, from footsteps and wind to monster cries, are crafted in post-production by sound designers.

It’s a common misconception that the sounds we hear in movies are recorded live; for example, the dinosaur roars in “Jurassic Park” weren’t recorded from actual dinosaurs but were meticulously created.
This may seem obvious on paper, but asking around might surprise you with how many people haven’t considered it.

Leveraging my skills and what I wanted to communicate, mixed with a bit of humor to maintain engagement, I began creating 1-minute Instagram video formats. In these videos, I recreated the sound design of well-known film scenes using everyday objects in a fun and simple way. My goal wasn’t high-quality outcomes but rather to explain the process to viewers. This format was a hit from the start, quickly going viral and, as you mentioned, being widely imitated thereafter.

I’m particularly proud of the collaboration that ensued with Filmmakersworld. After discovering my work, they began to share my content, leading to a relationship that transcends professional boundaries, becoming a friendship. It’s always a pleasure to collaborate on content that allows the curious to discover the art of sound design and the magic behind it.

Looking towards the future, what is Ben Jacquier’s ultimate goal or dream project in the realm of sound design and digital creation?

Looking toward the future, my ultimate goal in the realm of sound design is to craft the entire sound universe for a major video game. That would be a dream come true. I once had the opportunity to potentially work with a major game studio ( Mobile Legend) to create a sound identity for a new hero. Although it didn’t materialize, it would have been an incredible step into that universe.

Musically, my ambition is to compose soundtracks for increasingly prominent films. Additionally, I’m working on an artistic project under the name “Wolfgank.”

I plan to release tracks that blend melodic techno with cinematic orchestral elements, aiming to create a true scenographic experience on stage.

This project represents not just a fusion of genres but a culmination of my experiences and aspirations, striving to bring a novel and immersive auditory experience to audiences, both in cinemas and live performances.

Recently, I’ve taken a step back from creating content purely for social media.

The truth is, that it can be incredibly time-consuming, and sometimes the outcomes don’t match the effort due to ever-changing and hard-to-predict algorithms.

However, I fully intend to return to the video formats that have been so successful. After all, the goal isn’t necessarily to amass the largest following but to provide entertainment and knowledge to those who already follow and support me.

This journey has never been just about numbers; it’s about making a meaningful connection with my audience, sharing my passion for sound design and music, and hopefully inspiring others along the way.

What advice would you offer to aspiring sound designers and creators who are just starting in the industry?

To aspiring sound designers and creators just starting, I’d emphasize the importance of willpower and curiosity. Ask yourself, “How badly do you want to succeed?” 

My journey didn’t follow the traditional path; I didn’t attend music, sound design, or film school.

Everything I’ve learned, I’ve done so on my own, through trial and error, spending countless hours in my garage-turned-studio while my friends were out doing other things. I worked alone for a long time, wondering if it would all work out, making plenty of mistakes, and learning from them.

Imposter syndrome, especially with a non-traditional background like mine, is real and sometimes you need reassurance. But feeling the need for reassurance means you’re aware you can still do better, and that’s a sign you’re moving in the right direction. If you ever stop questioning yourself, it might mean there’s no more room for improvement.

My advice to newcomers is not to be afraid of challenges, as long as you’re willing to work hard to overcome them. There are no shortcuts to where I am today; it’s all about hard work.

So, dive into your passion for sound and creation with all the drive and curiosity you can muster. Embrace the challenges and use them as stepping stones.

Don’t fear making mistakes; they’re invaluable lessons that will guide you towards improvement. And always remember, the journey of learning and growth never truly ends. Keep pushing, keep exploring, and let your passion lead the way.

Thank you so much Ben Jacquier for sharing your experience and these valuable insights with the community!

If you wanna learn more about Ben Jacquier, go check his official website and, as usual, we are cooking a new piece fam…

Stay tuned for the next and in the meantime, if you missed our latest article, go check it out.
Much love!
FilmmakersWorld Team

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