Meet: Lina Dovner

March 10, 2024
Posted in Interview
March 10, 2024 Paul Virostek

Meet: Lina Dovner

After hearing Max Lachmann give a lecture on game audio she joined Pole fresh out of university. Seven months later, she’s delivering on projects, mixing cars, and never leaves home without her Zoom in case something recording-worthy appears. Meet Lina Dovner.

Lina, what is your role at Pole?

I am a Junior Sound Designer. I do sound design and some editing and mixing.

And you started pretty recently, right?

Yes, I graduated from the Audio Engineer program at Luleå University of Technology in June last year. Max (founder of Pole) was guest lecturing in our game audio course, and I was intrigued by the vehicle niche and the versatility of projects at Pole. I did not know this was something you could work with. I then reached out and asked if I could do an internship with them, and here I am today. I am so grateful to be on board!

How have the first months been?

It’s been great. The Pole crew consists of people with different backgrounds related to sound. I have already learned so much from them and their different areas. I have learned to mix cars, gotten better at implementing sounds, learned new sound design techniques etcetera. They have trusted in my skills and abilities from the start but remain supportive and available whenever I need their help. An extra shout-out to Niklas Olsson, who was a great supervisor during the internship and continues to make sure I learn what I need to do my tasks more efficiently.

Have you always had an interest in sound and music?

I have always listened to a lot of music of different genres and took guitar lessons for a long time as a kid. I also used to make silly songs with friends and took music production classes, which interested me in mixing and recording. That’s how I came to apply for the audio engineer program with the goal of becoming a studio engineer/mixing engineer.

When and why did you decide you wanted to work with sound design instead of music production?

I quickly realized that studio sessions were not for me, and music, in general, started to interest me less. Instead, I got into TV- and film sound and started thinking about sound differently. I took all the sound design-related classes to learn more. I love the functional aspect of designing – considering who will listen to the sound, how they will respond and how to manipulate sound to make them respond in a certain way. Game audio captivated me because you must think about sound design outside of linearity. Plus, I’ve always loved games.

What are your thoughts on how sound enhances the gaming experience?

Interaction. Getting a response from your input. For example, if you shoot a weapon in a game, the sound will have a significant effect on how powerful you think that weapon is, which in turn might actually affect how well you perform. But also the way sound can make you take specific actions. A scary sound might lead you in another direction, away from danger. Another sound can encourage you to investigate. Sound also helps you build a fictional world and can set the game’s overall mood.

And how does sound impact the experience of watching movies?

It’s kind of the same way as for games but with less physical interaction. Sound can give cues on what will happen next, evoke feelings in a scene, and provide information about things not seen on screen. Sound contributes to immersion, which is, for me, the most important thing for making a film or game enjoyable.

Since joining Pole, you’ve participated in multiple projects. What’s that been like?

I’ve been working on the same game since I started in September, with a few breaks. It has been exciting to join a project from the beginning with no sound and witness its progress to its current stage. Right now, I’m the only one from our team working on the sound for that project. It has been challenging but good for me to be entrusted with increased responsibility, especially in handling the communication with the client. Alongside my work on the game, I have worked on other projects, such as making ramps for cars. Getting into mixing cars has been challenging, but learning from the people with the most experience with car sounds in the industry has been very rewarding. Robin Olsson has also shown me handy ways to use Izotope RX.

Are there any sound designers or audio-centric works that have inspired you in your work?

I am particularly inspired by sound designer Johnnie Burn, known for his collaboration with directors such as Yorgos Lanthimos and Jordan Peele. Lanthimos’ films often have surreal and unsettling atmospheres, and I believe Burns’ sound design significantly contributes to this feeling. His use of ambiguity in the sound design of Jordan Peele’s “Nope” is inspiring; the audience is left uncertain about what they are hearing, heightening tension and unease. I hope to have the opportunity to work on a project where I can experiment with creating sounds in a similar way.

How do you approach the challenge of creating sounds for non-existent creatures or environments, particularly in fantasy or science fiction contexts?

I try to look at the big picture and figure out what rules apply to the non-existent world I’m working with. I either get directions from the game developers or use the picture if I have one. The listener has a relation to real-life sounds and sounds in the same genre and expects even non-existent words to sound a certain way. Then there’s the decision to meet their expectations or surprise them and make something completely new. It depends on the context and project.

What does your creative process for designing sound for a project from start to finish look like?

My process and workflow have progressively changed in the past months, and I think it will continue as I enter new projects. Now, I start by organizing the project by making folders and markers. I import captures of the game and start looking for source sounds. I usually know what I need, so I import some sounds, try them out, sync them to the picture, and do some processing. I recently started incorporating more synthesis into my design. I used to try to find source sounds for everything and alter them, but I’ve realized that it is often quicker and easier to program synths into sounding how I want them. But it’s almost always layered with samples.

How do you collaborate with other team members, such as directors or game developers, during the sound design process?

I try to understand the client’s vision and try to achieve it. It usually takes a few feedback rounds, and I always want the feedback to be honest and straightforward. I have noticed the open and easy-going way Pole collaborates with customers, always trying to be as helpful as possible, and I strive to do the same. The collaboration within Pole works the same way. There is a lot of knowledge sharing and support.

The Pole Sound Library is world-famous, with content ranging from wind in trees to grenade explosions from howitzers. Will you take part in recordings in the future?

Yes, I very much want to participate in recordings eventually and learn the techniques they have developed over the years. The locations and the type of sounds Pole records are so cool. It would be extra fun now to record cars after having mixed some. Recording, in general, is something I want to do more. I have started bringing my Zoom when I leave the house in case I find something interesting to record.

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