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Black Goblin co-founders, Gabrielle Haley (left) Ana Betancourt (right) Image courtesy of Ana Betancourt

Studying Sound Design at ECA allowed Ana to to explore the experimental side of sound design. Her curiosity was fuelled by her desire to always keep learning about new technologies emerging in the sound design industry.

This culminated in her co-founding a bespoke sound design company with a fellow classmate after graduating from ECA.

Why I chose to study Sound Design - MSc

Back in 2014, after graduating from a Music Production Engineering undergraduate degree, I had been working as a freelancer in the film industry and loved it. However, I wanted to learn more about the emerging technologies in the industry and how to bring this interest into my creative practice. The University of Edinburgh was my top choice, after being recommended the MSc Sound Design programme for its interdisciplinary approach by a previous teacher.

In parallel to working in the film industry, I obtained a scholarship from my home country to do my degree in the UK; during this time, I was accepted into five other universities, and, after a tough choice, I decided to pursue my degree at ECA as originally intended.

I feel I made the right choice because the programme allowed me to explore the experimental side of sound design, enabling me to draw into my professional experience and expand it into new realms of sound creation, culminating in me co-founding Black Goblin with my fellow sound design classmate, Gabrielle Haley, in 2018.

"The programme allowed me to explore the experimental side of sound design, enabling me to draw into my professional experience and expand it into new realms of sound creation."

Ana Betancourt

Sound Design - MSc alumna

My time at ECA 

During my time at ECA, I got involved in several student projects, wanting to learn and explore as many areas of the subject as possible, this allowed me to work on several films, games and works of art including a sound installation made as part of the course with my fellow classmates. This sound installation opened my eyes to experimenting with IoT, sensors, and other formats of sound delivery which I have continued to use with my company, Black Goblin. One example of this is the current work we are doing alongside Historic Environment Scotland with its Roman site sound installation in the town of Bearsden.

Additionally, I formed several friendships and partnerships during my time at ECA with filmmakers, with whom I have continued to engage in projects after graduation. Dr Martin Parker and Roderick Buchanan-Dunlop were both a huge and positive influence while studying at the Reid School of Music and they continue to be a great source of wisdom and support for both Gabrielle (my co-founder and fellow sound design alumna) and I, advising us and giving us feedback on the industry, technology, and artistic matters.

One crucial element of my time at the University of Edinburgh was my contact with Edinburgh Innovations and Ross McLennan, who kickstarted my journey as an entrepreneur and who carry on supporting me to this date with advice and as my official business sponsors.

Last but not least, the masterclass I took part in with Andy Farnell was, indirectly, the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, inspiring me to use technology to create innovative, out-of-the-box sound design solutions.

My experiences since graduating

Thanks to the support of ECA, the transition from student to professional was seamless; by the time I was graduating, I was already working on kickstarting my company. My time at the University taught me collaborative skills much needed in the professional setting, curiosity which was fuelled by my brilliant professors and overall, a desire to always keep learning and improving which has been extremely useful when tackling new projects or working with new technologies.

After taking a year to focus on developing my business, I had the opportunity to return to the University during 2018 as a Graduate Studio Assistant with Audio Studio Manager Roderick Buchanan-Dunlop. During this time, I can only be thankful to everyone at ECA for all the invaluable lessons. Being able to work alongside students, staff and other members at the University, allowed me to bring real feedback into my practice and come back stronger than ever to continue my pursuit as a sound designer.

After my period as a Graduate Studio Assistant, I was part of the Edinburgh Innovations Summer Accelerator programme to grow my business, and then, the recipient of the Creative Informatics Resident Entrepreneurs award.

Currently, I am working full time in my company, where we have a team of 7 people rendering bespoke sound design services while developing our first product, Subversive, which we aim to release next year.

My advice to new and current students

If I could, I would have told myself when I started the course, that I had time to figure things out and I should not be afraid to experiment even more with sound as university is the place to do it.

One thing I would say to anyone either starting their course or about to graduate, is to make use of all of the amazing resource available that the University has to offer and don’t leave without doing so. There are countless opportunities to network and engage with industry professionals, as well as access to a rich entrepreneurial community that can help you kickstart your career whether as a business owner or a freelancer.

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