World of the Witcher
Back in 2019, I got contracted to write some scores and do a bit of sound design for the walk-through experience at Netflix’s Witcher premiere at Grauman's Egyptian Theatre. All in all, it ended up being about twenty minutes of score and sound design. I’ve done some similar stuff before (kind of like the Stranger Things pop-up), but this one was interesting because the particular layout of the walk-through made bleed over between four semi-separate zones highly likely (if not certain). With that in mind, the plan for the score was a bit unique. Each score needed to be able to play over one another and make sense thematically, avoid dissonance, and so on.
At the Witcher launch event in Hollywood. Bard bands, World of Witcher immersive experience with actors; his horse Roach, snacks, necklace, and several photo opps. From book to game to Netflix, Witcher releases on Netflix Dec 20. #netflix #WitcherNetflix @witchernetflix pic.twitter.com/ziOZYj5ZOf
— Digital LA (@DigitalLA) December 4, 2019
The first zone to get a score worked up was the forest. Initial client direction was really vague. Ordinarily, this would be problematic, but here it actually helped in that it allowed a wide berth to create something that could operate within the bleed over constraints. A few days later my point of contact provided an immense amount of reference material—the full creative deck with over 200 slides covering everything from floorplans, set dressings, concept renderings, wardrobe, even prop greenery—to key off of.
After pouring over the creative deck and watching a bunch of gameplay to get another bead on aesthetic (I’ve never actually played any of the games) it came time to pull up to the piano and start seeing what happened. In retrospect, I can’t remember exactly where I started. It was probably the strings. The forest originally was slated to have a “monster moment,” which later got canned, but that initially led me to a marching kind of line on the celli. A bit trope-y...but tropes exist for a reason. Double basses followed suit, and some pizzicato parts went on top played by another section of celli and some violas, trying to keep a deep, dark, moody feel about the piece.
The rest ended up being a combination of low percussive hits (think concert bass drum, but not exactly) ran through a filtered delay, taiko ensemble, some hand drums, and various synthesizers, and some messed up woodwind and flute samples. Overall, I’m really pleased with how it turned out, and thankfully the client shared the sentiment.
The other zones were a sorcery school, a throne room, and a bath (apparently there is some infamous bath scene in the Witcher games?). The palette from the forest was reused and built upon for each of these three other zones, each taking on their own characteristic per client direction, but thematically they track, creating an ebb and flow between dynamic periods.
Anyways, this was a really, really enjoyable project and the folks over at CSM Production could not have been any more awesome. Tons of fun and the production team at Netflix seemed happy with the result which is always nice validation—it’s just bonus points when I have fun, too.
Till next time,