Case study

Sound designer — Adrián Barahona-Ríos

Continuing in academia has enabled Adrián to enhance his knowledge and skills in sound for games, and secure a research partnership with Sony Europe

What are you currently working on within sound design?

I'm a PhD student at the EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Intelligent Games and Game Intelligence, based in York.

I applied online for my course. The programme of study is video game and industry oriented, which is what I wanted.

In collaboration with Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe, I'm researching strategies to increase the efficiency in the creation of procedural audio models for video games by using DSP and machine learning approaches.

What are your main work activities?

If I'm working on a project, my main activities are planning, coding, data analysis and writing results. Otherwise, I'll be reading papers, training and planning the next steps. I also keep up with industry practices when it comes to sound design in games, recording and implementing ideas and personal projects using tools such as Wwise.

In what way is your degree relevant?

My degree is relevant in that it formed the foundation for what I'm doing now. I initially studied an HND in Creative Media Production at CEV Madrid (Spain) and then undertook a top-up BA in Popular Music Production at Solent University.

I then completed an MSc in Sound Design at the University of Edinburgh, before embarking on my postdoctoral studies.

What do you enjoy most about sound designing?

I love sound and games, and this job allows me to innovate in both fields. Also, I enjoy learning and using tools outside my main field of knowledge.

What are the most challenging parts?

The fast-changing nature of the video game (and therefore game audio) industry means that keeping track of developers' needs - new tools, new games and so on - can be really time consuming, even if you love it.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

Being in the research and development side of the field has meant I'm coding more that I would have anticipated at the beginning. However, I really enjoy audio development and I would love to continue doing this, mixing technical and creative skills.

Any words of advice for someone wanting to get into sound design?

  • Specialise in one role but stay aware of the bigger picture - overall game development.
  • It's important to have a good portfolio, and attending relevant conferences and events can be helpful.
  • On deciding where to study at postgraduate level, I paid particular attention to the syllabus, the course instructors and the alumni. Secondly, I factored in the university, its research community and industry links, and the city's cultural scene.

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