Futureworks Media School in Manchester opts for Genelec

Manchester has always had a lively arts scene and media industry, with more than its share of great bands coming from the city. Helping to reinforce the city’s cutting-edge reputation, Manchester’s Futureworks Media School provides training in sound, music, film, TV games, design and 3D animation. 

The school was set up three years ago by Pro Tools Instructor Chris Mayo to provide a ‘real-world’ working environment for students. We spoke to Chris, now Managing Director of Futureworks, and the school’s Head of Audio, Rob Magoologan. “We set up Futureworks to cover film, TV, games, CGI and audio, and combine them all,” says Chris. “Rather than just teaching out of classrooms, we’ve replicated environments such as Harris Grant studios and top-end production suites,” he explains. 

The school is well equipped for audio production, with six music and post-production studios designed by Harris Grant, whose work includes design for Battery Studios, New York and the BBC’s Maida Vale. For monitoring, the school has opted for a variety of Genelec systems, and Rob took us through what’s there. “The largest pair we’ve got are the 1037Cs in our SSL studio,” he says. “I really like those – they’re quite traditional sounding, but also quite detailed around the edges of the vocal. We have Genelec 8030As in our Toft Studio, which are fairly small but sound much bigger than the box. We have a pair of Questeds in there as well, but I prefer the 8030As to the Questeds.”

futureworks logoMore recently the school has kitted out four smaller edit suites and purchased Genelec 8020Bs for each room. “We want to educate students in brands that are successful and accepted in the industry and get them used to the Genelec philosophy,’ says Rob. “They’ll be certain to encounter it in other facilities.” 

Rob’s experience as an audio engineer outside of the school led him to recommend the Genelec studio monitors: “I use Genelecs professionally and have always found them to be a good-quality, reliable source of monitoring, with something that leads you to a mainstream sound,” he explains. “They steer you towards a more vocal-orientated sound, presenting areas of the spectrum that you need to pay attention to. There are other styles of monitoring here too, but I wanted to include some Genelec systems.” 

“The courses and the facilities are here to represent what goes on in the real world, so we have ranges of equipment that appear in working studios. To have a range of Genelec monitors is important to us because they reflect what’s being used in the industry. Many of the facilities I’ve used or visited have Genelec main, midfield or nearfield monitors, so we have to make sure we represent that setup.” 

Even outside of the studios Rob puts his trust in Genelec monitors, equipping the classrooms with Genelec monitoring. “It’s important in a classroom situation when we’re discussing and playing back a sound, that people can hear it properly,” explains Rob. Of course these are no ordinary classrooms: “There are tables with patch-bays, small control surfaces and small analogue consoles, and each table has four iMacs.” 

Keeping a school such as Futureworks at the cutting edge will always mean that Chris and Rob have to keep an ear to ground. “All our courses are a little like painting the Forth Bridge,” says Rob. “By the time you finish painting it, it’s time to start all over again.” 

To make sure the school keeps up-to-date, advisors from Manchester’s media industry visit on a bi-annual basis to advise on what skills they’re looking for in future employees. “We consult the industry about our new modules, adapting the course content to keep it fresh and relevant.” 

Rob told us one of the areas that the college is expanding into is game audio. “We have a games department where the students program games, and a games art department where they create the visuals. The next step is to link the games department with the audio courses, so students can learn how to design and implement sound for games.” 

As this development continues, Genelec monitoring systems will remain at the forefront of the school’s monitoring chain, providing students with an accurate means of hearing every detail of the audio they are working with. 

Photo caption: Rob Magoologan, Head of Audio at Futureworks Media College