Video game pioneer Leslie Benzies invests in monster effects company

Krotos, the producer of next-generation audio tools for the entertainment industry, has secured angel investment in a deal led by one of the most influential figures in gaming.

Video game pioneer Leslie Benzies is the main investor with co-funding for what is described as a “substantial” six-figure deal provided by Old College Capital, the venture investment arm of the University of Edinburgh.

The Edinburgh-based firm, known for its ‘Dehumaniser’ voice processor which produces monster sounds for films, television and video games, has already won business from studios around the world including Disney and Warner Brothers.

Investment from Benzies is a significant boost for the company and will help it to scale – doubling headcount to 20 – and widen its suite of pro-audio tools while also reaching consumer markets in growth areas such as virtual reality and gaming.

Benzies is an award-winning video game producer, designer and the former president of Rockstar North. His production and design credits span the life of modern gaming and include Grand Theft Auto III, IV, V, Red Dead Redemption, and GTA Online. He is also creator of the recently announced video game, Everywhere.

Orfeas Boteas, founder and chief executive of Krotos, hit upon the idea for  Dehumaniser while studying at the Edinburgh University.

The software, created as part of his Masters degree in sound design, makes it possible to produce imaginary creature and monster sounds in real-time.

It allows actors to generate sounds themselves using their own voices, dramatically reducing the time taken to produce content.

Since its launch in 2013, Dehumaniser has been used to voice characters in Hollywood blockbusters including Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jungle Book, as well as hit video games Far Cry 4, Doom and League of Legends among others. It has also been used by television production companies in the US, Europe and Asia.

“Our tools will finally free audio designers, creatives and musicians from outdated workflows and will allow them to focus on creativity,” said Boteas.

“The next few years will open up exciting possibilities for new media, as audio is now more challenging than ever with Virtual Reality, Augmented reality and Mixed reality.

“Video games and films are our core market but there is massive potential in VR and that will be an important focus for us moving forward.”

He added: “The support we have received from the technology and business community in Scotland over the last four years has been fantastic.

“It’s a great place to start a tech business and I’m delighted that we will be able to build a bigger presence in Edinburgh following the investment.”

Leslie Benzies commented: “Orfeas understands the potential of bringing technology and creativity together, and his vision for the future of audio tools resonated with me. I look forward to working with such a talented and driven team.”

Andrea Young, fund manager of Old College Capital, added: “Krotos is an exciting new company with potential to grow rapidly and deliver real economic impact in Edinburgh.

“This deal highlights the potential of student-led enterprise and it is great that the university through Old College Capital is able to take a stake in the company and share in its future success.

Benzies will join the Krotos board, which includes non-executive directors Matthew Smith, the former audio director of Rockstar North, IT entrepreneur Ian Ritchie and financial expert Colin Grant.