SAE hosts masterclass with Criterion Games audio designer Mariana Botero

24 Sep 2020

On 15 September, SAE hosted an SAE Extra masterclass with Criterion Games Audio Designer, Mariana Botero.  

She provided an overview of her path into the games industry, talking about how she was originally interested in music but soon realised that she didn’t enjoy composition. Instead, she went to Tribeca Flashpoint Media Arts Academy which had a Sound Design for Games Programme. Returning to Colombia after graduating, she worked in advertising and for indie game developers, as well as doing some location audio which let her travel to the middle of the jungle. After this, she did an MA in Audio Production in the UK, and ended up staying here as an Associate Sound Designer with Criterion Games in Guildford. Mari said: “There are lots of paths when you are pursuing a career in Audio and the knowledge will translate to different industries or media.” 

Mari then provided an overview of the different elements involved in sound design, before focusing on game audio in particular. She was keen to stress that Audio is not the soundtrack in the game, it is the complete sound experience in the game - consisting of sound effects, music, voiceover and then the implementation of those three things into the game. 

Talking about game sound compared to other forms of linear media such as film or TV, Mari said: “Audio designers have an extra challenge in terms of creating a good experience without having full control over the player’s experience.” 

Next, Mari talked about what a normal day at work looks like for her at Criterion Games, before turning to how you can establish your own career in game audio. She said: “Listen to everything and dissect it - if there’s a movie that you like and you like the sound of it, go back and figure out why you like it. Try and re-record it yourself.” 

   
 

"LISTEN TO EVERYTHING AND DISSECT IT - IF THERE'S A MOVIE THAT YOU LIKE AND YOU LIKE THE SOUND OF IT, GO BACK AND FIGURE OUT WHY YOU LIKE IT. TRY AND RE-RECORD IT YOURSELF."

- MARI BOTERO - CRITERION GAMES AUDIO DESIGNER

   

 

The attendees then had a chance to ask Mari questions about her path into the industry and her day-to-day work. Questions ranged from how VR impacts the nonlinear trajectory of a game, to how to get work experience. Other attendees asked about the best DAWs, and the extent to which sound designers need to understand programming. Mari had lots of advice for what to put into your showreel if you’re looking to pursue a career in game sound, and also had some useful suggestions for where to look for studio roles. 

SAE Liverpool Audio Production graduate Michael Harrison said: “I loved the talk, it was a real confidence booster for me as I thought to get involved with audio design for gaming you had to have knowledge with coding. She explained that all you need is a good showreel and companies will teach you the rest.” 

Ruben Alexander said: “I was so happy that I was able to join the SAE Extra event. Mariana was really great at sharing her experiences and tips and she answered every question we asked exactly. I hope there'll be similar events like this again soon.” 

SAE Glasgow Audio Production student Moa Jansson said: “It was one of the best online events that I've attended, simply because it made me feel encouraged to take action on the advice that Mariana gave us. I also found it helpful to learn more about different careers in audio, not just music but sound designing, and I found myself taking the role of a Game Audio Designer more seriously after hearing her talk about it. I liked how the advice she gave us was easy to apply to our own situations. For example, I know exactly what to do when I decide to construct a portfolio thanks to her.” 

SAE Liverpool Audio Production student Callum Kee-McParlin said: “The talk with Mariana was informative, interesting and reassured me that I am on the right path towards becoming a Foley artist and sound designer. I was taken back to that she agreed to be a connection on social media with me and a few other developers.” 

To benefit from all Mari’s tips and tricks, make sure you’re following SAE’s social media accounts so you can watch the full masterclass when it is published on our channels. 

Like SAE on Facebook

Follow SAE on YouTube

  STUDY AUDIO