1: Hello who are you and what are you known for?
Hello! I’m Adam Rowley and I run an audio outsource company called tekkAudio. We provide audio, sound design and music for all sorts of things such as games, trailers, adverts, motion graphics and animation.
2: How did you get your break into games?
Way back in 2005, whilst studying to be a film editor at university in York, I applied for a work placement at a local sound studio helping out on a secret project. It was later revealed to be the launch of the PlayStation 3! I loved the work and ended up staying with the company for 5 years working on MotorStorm, Broken Sword and the Total War series.
3: What advice would you give as a mentor to anyone either entering the industry or as a start up, having founded your own company?
Prepare yourself for quite a ride! It’s an industry that’s ever changing and it evolves at an immense pace, not just technologically but also with developers and teams closing down and new studios springing up. It takes some getting used to and there’s extreme highs and lows but it’s a genuinely exhilarating and rewarding industry.
4: Which title in recent history has really pushed new boundaries in game audio and why?
I might be biased because I worked on it, but I really think Driveclub was a landmark for game audio in the racing genre. I’ve worked on a lot of racing titles previous to that but never put so much detail into each vehicle before. For each car we had 3 location recorders capturing at least 18 channels of audio! Plus we recorded over 100 cars, which was a serious amount of work in itself. I was very lucky to work alongside an incredible team with a hugely powerful in-house developed audio engine.
In terms of other games, I was blown away with the audio in Horizon. The team at Guerrilla have always pushed the hardware to it’s limits with their games and their systems are incredible. The environment in Horizon feels truly alive and is always evolving and changing, it’s a beautiful world to be in. They strike the perfect balance between creature and robotic sound design when it would have been quite easy to veer off down the typical mech/transformers path. It makes you really empathise with the machines.
5: As an audio specialist, if you could recommend one tool, software or hardware, for a beginner, what would it be and why?
I would say get yourself completely comfortable with a location recorder, mic and multitrack digital audio workstation, it doesn’t hugely matter which ones in particular. What you learn will become the foundations of your everyday work and can then be applied to other equipment/software. It’s easy to get dazzled with shiny new tech but it still just comes down to simply recognising what sounds work well and knowing where to place them. Once you’ve got these basics mastered then the experimentation begins.
6: How do you see game audio compared to other audio fields? How does the work environment differ?
The nature of games means you’re designing audio for non-linear systems and it requires a much more analytical approach. You’re constantly using both sides of your brain being creative and technical at the same time. There’s always problem solving going on, sometimes it’s technical limitations that prevent you from throwing huge amounts of audio into a game engine, or it could be down to simply time restraints/man power. I think with the work environment you’re much more integrated with other teams than you would be in other fields, for example physics and programming.
7: Best influences in your audio work that’s non-game related?
Audio is completely embedded into my life and everything inspires me, I think the job attracts sound obsessives! It’s very hard to switch off the part of me that’s always analysing sounds around me. I can’t remember a time when I could watch a film without picking apart how the sounds were put together. It’s a curse but I love it at the same time.
8: Being set up in Liverpool, can you give us a highlight into the game dev scene locally? How has the location helped or hindered when trying to bid on and work as a outsourced company?
Going back to how the industry is ever evolving, Liverpool had a few developer giants in the city which have unfortunately disappeared. But since then dozens of smaller companies have sprung up and it feels like a progressive and exciting place to be. There’s dedicated courses locally for students to learn game design and I think the city really embraces the tech/gaming culture with events and exhibitions being held throughout the year. It’s a nice place to be and I’ve yet to feel hindered by being here.
9: VR hardware and gaming, how has that changed the landscape for audio production?
VR requires binaural audio and although it’s been around for a long while it feels like the rule book is being re-written. The 3D audio tools being used early on were either developed in house or were very expensive but now there’s all sorts of plugins and hardware that are being released. As these become more accessible, I think we’ll start hearing 3D audio being used more in other areas, especially music releases. It adds a huge layer of space and immersion and the bonus is that any pair of headphones can hear the effect.
10: Finally……Any advice for your last boss?
Crikey, that’s a hard one! He’s always been really encouraging and we’ve been friends for years now so I guess I’d say keep doing what you’re doing and don’t stop aiming high. Oh and drink plenty of water.
Thanks Adam, for a great insight to running an outsource audio company and all things audio!
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