30 Under 30: Stephen Jensen, Sound Designer

In celebration of LDI’s 30th anniversary—1988-2018—Live Design gives a shout out to 30 Under 30: thirty young movers and shakers who are changing paradigms, looking at things from new angles, and rapidly rising to the forefront of their field. From scenic, lighting, projection, and costume designers to technicians and programmers, as well as those who work for manufacturers, production companies, or rental shops, our 30 Under 30 are the harbingers of tomorrow.

Stephen Jensen has quite an impressive resume for someone who finished college a year ago. The 22-year old sound designer graduated USC in 2017, but has already been in the business for nine years. His broad sound design experience spans musicals; black box theater; and film, videogame, and television; with credits on productions of A Raisin in the Sun, Evita, Antigone X, Angels in America, Into the Woods, A Little Night Music, and dozens more. Jensen, who’s also studying for his MFA, enjoys taking inspiration from film, video games, and VR sound design, using those concepts in new ways in live production. “Having the freedom to do that, to look across at other designers in other areas and bring those ideas in to develop my own process and techniques, is one of the main reasons I love working in the production business,” he says.


Name: Stephen Jensen

Age: 22

City, State of residence: San Diego, CA

Position/title: Sound designer/student

Current project(s): A Raisin in the Sun, At Sundown (Video game)

Most notable achievements: Being one of the first sound designers to utilize Meyer VLFCs in a theatrical setting.

When I started in this industry: 2009

How I got into this industry: Mixing bands for traditional Indian dance performances, interning with the lighting company at local music festivals, and designing for local high schools near where I grew up.

Influences: Phil Allen, Jonathan Deans

Worst advice I’ve ever heard: “Just do it like we’ve always done it.”

Best advice I’ve ever heard: “The tech process is for lights.”

My favorite thing about the production industry: The many different ways that designers approach the same kind of tasks. I am forever intrigued by the different ways that designers approach the same set of issues, and how tools from related industries can be adapted for use in the design process.

Favorite design/programming/technical trick: Setting up a small-scale version of my sound system and working through all my programming before I am ever in the space. I wind up with a lot fewer surprises in the theatre and have much more time to finesse cue timings and the movement of sound. Also, setting up Qlab scripts for repetitive programming tasks.

Plans for the future: Joining the sound team on Jagged Little Pill at A.R.T., and assistant sound designer on Queens at the La Jolla Playhouse. After that, I don’t know yet!

Other interests/side gigs: Sound design and voiceover direction for video games.

Awards, honors: Richard M Spencer Memorial Award for Design and the Aileen Stanley Memorial Award for Design

Website: stephenpjensen.com

Check out Live Design/LDI's other 30 Under 30: