Igniter Live Synth, the Krotos plug-in for real-world or sci-fi vehicle and engine sound effects, will soon become readily available to Wwise users through the Audiokinetic Store. From everyday cars and race cars, to motorcycles, planes, helicopters, sci-fi vehicles, and more, you'll soon be able to author your own content using Igniter Live Synth and get a custom vehicle running in Wwise, in minutes. We asked the founder of Krotos, Orfeas Boteas, about the story behind Krotos and about his thoughts on the future of plug-ins.
Why did you start this business and what were you trying to achieve?
After working as a sound engineer, recordist and designer for post-production, I did an MSc in Sound Design. For my master's degree final project, I made Dehumaniser, a software that allows you to design monster, robot and creature sounds in real-time using your voice. The process of combining multiple effects and animal sounds to make a monster sound was enjoyable but time consuming, requiring multiple plugins and sound libraries, so I was trying to simplify that. After that, I uploaded a video of the software on my website and posted it on different sound design forums and social media groups. The response was great, people started asking for the software and I started giving it away for free. I then started receiving really helpful feedback and thousands of downloads. At that point I decided to start working on the Pro version with the help of a friend and we released in November 2013. I incorporated Krotos at the same time. You can read more about the story here, and read some of the first comments about the prototype.
Did you see a business opportunity or were you just following your passion?
Initially I was following my passion in audio, trying to create something useful for myself and the community. However, when Dehumaniser started becoming successful, I saw the business opportunity and realised there were very few companies making sound design software. Most of the tools were made for music production and I felt that there was a lot of room for innovation. I started building the team and developing more software solutions with a mission to improve how sound is designed and performed. Today, I am still following my passion for audio by trying to make an impact within the audio community.
What are some of the challenges or things you would have loved to know before you started Krotos? Looking back, are there any mistakes you made along the way, and how would you have done things differently?
Running a business has its challenges, and while it is one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life, it is also one of the most rewarding. The first challenge was building the best team that I could. The original software was a standalone, but the market really needed a VST/AAX/AU plugin, so I had to find the right programmers to make the product. Obviously with a start-up, funds are an issue, so I applied for a Royal Society of Edinburgh Fellowship, got accepted, and was given the opportunity to learn about business and fundraising. We also received a SMART award which is a grant in Scotland that covers 70% of R&D for innovative projects, so I was able to hire the first employees and develop and release Dehumaniser 2.
I made a lot of mistakes along the way, but without these mistakes I don’t think I could have grown and developed the company in the same way. Right now, I try to focus on keeping things simple and prioritising. You really need to stick to what works, evaluate often, and improve wherever possible instead of try to do too many things. I prioritise goals and tasks based on what is important and what has the potential to bring the most results, and try to eliminate everything else. Sometimes, when you develop products, you keep adding features but then find out that people will only use a small percentage of them. You also want to make sure that you have enough functionality to allow enough customisation, so finding the right balance is something that we have now learned as team, although this is always a challenge.
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How many people are you now, and what are your goals as a company? Where do you see the future of your business, industry, plug-ins?
If you include the board, we are 14 people, plus 2-3 freelancers who work for Krotos on a regular basis. Our goal is to improve the way sound is designed and performed, starting with post production and games and expanding towards other areas of the entertainment industry. We started with sound design software for post-production and games, then developed technology for voice processing and sound design for AR, VR and MR. With the explosive growth of the entertainment industry and streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, Apple, as well as new gaming platforms and emerging markets, audio is becoming more and more important and we are very excited to be a part of this. Partnering with Audiokinetic and incorporating more of our technology into games and interactive platforms is another step towards our goal. In the future, I foresee the industry becoming more simplified with machine learning and AI, allowing people to focus more on the creative side of things, and allowing them to design the sound that they have in their mind, faster.
Read the following blog posts to learn more about writing plug-ins for Wwise:
- A Simplified Pipeline for Creating Wwise Audio Plug-Ins
- Why writing plug-ins for Wwise is so important for your game projects
Community plug-in developers from around the world can register their Wwise plug-in to sell it to Wwise users on the Audiokinetic Store.