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Work Is A Whole Different Ball Game For Middlesbrough Students
December 05, 2016

WHEN music technology students Niall Coates and Kurtis Brudenell graduated they didn’t expect to find themselves working on a global video game.

The pair, who studied at Middlesbrough College on a Teesside University degree programme, now appear on the credits of Madden NFL 17 – the latest in the blockbuster American football video game series. Niall, 22, and Kurtis, 25, both from Middlesbrough, edited most of the key sound effects in the title which was released on major consoles by international gaming giant EA Games.

It was a chance encounter with the lead sound designer for Madden NFL 17 which eventually landed the pair the exciting role.

Will Morton – who previously worked for household name Rockstar Games, and oversaw sound development on the renowned Grand Theft Auto games – recruited Niall and Kurtis on the strength of their enthusiasm and degree experience.

Niall explained: “We were fresh off the degree course at Middlesbrough College, and didn’t have portfolios at the time but we’d got ourselves a DigitalCity Fellowship.

“It gave us some funding and networking opportunities to begin building our portfolios. And through that we met Will, who has a lot of experience in sound design.

“We got on really well and he needed a small team to turn around the sound for the Madden game, quickly. It just took off from there.”

Niall and Kurtis were responsible for editing some of the game’s “Foley” – an industry term that refers to the reproduction of everyday sounds such as the swish of clothing, the bounce of a ball on turf or the howl of wind.

These sounds are frequently added to games, films and other media in the post-production stages, to add realism.

The Middlesbrough pair used their own equipment to engineer a range of sounds that help transport Madden games to famous stadiums across the US. EA’s team had recorded many of the sounds in a Scottish field.

The sound of players crashing into one another was created using cheap suitcases stuffed with clothes, the sound of helmets clashing was grills hit with metal spoons and the “clack” of shoulder pads was created using plastic Tupperware boxes.

Niall, who is a fan of video games himself, added: “We had just two days to complete the job – so it was all hands on deck to get it finished.

“Editing foley is quite detailed work, and the repetitive sound of players falling on turf or catching balls was ringing through our heads by the time we’d finished.

“This small job just was just our first step on the ladder and we hope to move up to creating and engineering the foley in the near future.”

Now the pair are concentrating on individual projects.

Chris Allen, lecturer on the B.Sc (Hons) Music Technology course at Middlesbrough College, said: “Niall and Kurtis both excelled on the degree programme and it’s fantastic to see their achievements so shortly afterwards.

“They’re just two alumni of Middlesbrough College’s Music Technology degree who have gone on to exciting projects with the skills they learned.”

*The DigitalCity Fellowship scheme is open to businesses under one year old that are creating new products. For more information visit www.thedigitalcity.com

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