From Hollyrood to Hollywood: The Krotos start-up story

Born of a final year project at the University of Edinburgh, Orfeas Boteas spotted a gap in the market for specialist audio processing software, and so Krotos was born.

Less than two years later and he’s already responsible for some of the horrifying sounds and voices you might have heard in the latest Avengers movie. BQ had the opportunity to discuss the start-up journey with Orfeas.

The process of screaming into a microphone, trying to see how you can filter and distort sounds, was one that he particularly enjoyed as part of his MSc in Sound Design. It was really time consuming, layering sounds and audio plugins on top of one another to find the sound he wanted, which is where the idea for software development came from.

Dehumaniser is the first piece of software that was developed by Orfeas, a vocal processor for making high quality monster and creature sounds, in real time, using your voice. The ‘in real time’ aspect is key, since typically these effects have to be added individually in post-production, which is a time consuming job.

Orfeas told BQ: "After posting a video demonstration of the prototype online, sound designers started showing great interest in the project, so I put it on my webpage as a free download.

"After I did that, I started to get e-mails from well-known industry professionals telling me that they’d used the software for several films and games all over the world.

"That sort of response was really exciting, and after getting such positive feedback from people I looked up to, I started working part-time on the commercial version while doing other freelance work."

Like so many people, Orfeas found himself running his own business almost by accident, and so he sought support and mentoring from within the University.

"The biggest challenge was to release and maintain professional software that is being used by top film and game companies with limited resources," he told us, "and making sure we had a good team was definitely a challenge – but I now work with some great people, who are just as excited about the future of the company as I am."

"Recently, I was awarded a Fellowship by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. They offered me funding and business training so I could work on the commercial aspect of my company for a year – and the company also received a SMART: SCOTLAND award that we funded from profit."

Starting your own business is a double edged sword, sayd Orfeas. "The best thing is the creativity and flexibility that you have. The worst thing is that you have too much work and too little resources."

It’s onwards and upwards for the Krotos team. "The next step is rolling Dehumaniser out to the general public, and we’re about to launch a mobile app, so after seeing what Hollywood’s professionals can achieve by using it I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else can come up with."

BQ look forward to following the Krotos journey as the firm continues to grow.