Viking Sagas and String Quartets

When this blog featured the Videri String Quartet in August of last year, we covered their ongoing collaboration with Grammy-nominated video game and film composer Austin Wintory. This artistic relationship had led them to releasing string quartet arrangements of the music of Journey and Monaco, both very successful video games with an original score by Mr. Wintory. They also went on to perform at IndieCade in October, at the composer’s invitation. In November, Wintory approached Videri with his latest project, the video game The Banner Saga. 

Inspired by Viking imagery and traditional 2D hand-drawn animation, game studio Stoic launched a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the production of The Banner Saga. After raising $700,000, 7 times their original funding goal, the studio brought Wintory in to write music for the game. One year later, a few weeks before the game’s release, the composer came to Videri violist and director Roselie Samter with the trailer for The Banner Saga. Upon seeing the trailer Samter decided to not only have Videri write and record an original arrangement of the game’s music, but also to base Videri’s first professional music video on this arrangement. Samter explains what sparked her interest: “The second I saw [the trailer] I realized that one of the main characters looked like a cartoon version of my father. The reason is because my father is a real life Viking.”

Courtesy of Stoic Studios

Courtesy of Stoic Studios

Weezil Samter. Photo by Anthony Productions.

Weezil Samter. Photo by Anthony Productions.

Weezil Samter lives in Northern Idaho and works for the railroad as a welder. Some 10 years ago he decided to take up blacksmithing, and since then he’s made about five beautifully detailed and thoroughly convincing suits of armor. "My father is really into the whole older type Viking medieval [culture],” says Samter. “He wanted to make his campsite authentic so he started tanning his own hides. So now whenever anyone shoots a deer in Northern Idaho (which is a lot, by the way!) they give the hide to my father.” With her father in mind, Samter wrote back to Wintory proposing that, in addition to producing an arrangement of The Banner Saga’s music, Videri could make a music video that recreated some of the scenes from the game. Wintory agreed immediately. 

Everything happened quickly after that. Long-time Videri arranger David Peacock was entrusted the task of writing the arrangement, which he completed in 10 days. What followed was an intense schedule of film production, involving long hours of filming outdoors in the middle of winter. Several locals were recruited to play the role of the Vikings, in addition to Samter herself, her father, her mother and her brother. Weezil Samter’s suits of armor, along with several Viking and medieval inspired objects and clothing made by the actors themselves - Viking enthusiasts all - proved highly convincing props and costumes, and the wilderness of Western Washington, near the city of Spokane, provided the perfect setting. Back in Boston, Videri recorded the string quartet arrangement. The entire process happened within eight weeks.

You can listen to the Videri String Quartet’s arrangement of Austin Wintory’s beautiful music for The Banner Saga below. The video is set to be released on January 21st, make sure to keep an eye out for it. In the mean time, take a look at some photos from the shoot.

All images by Anthony Productions.

 

More about Videri String Quartet:

http://www.viderisq.com/

Download Austin Wintory's full soundtrack for The Banner Saga:

http://austinwintory.bandcamp.com/album/the-banner-saga

More about Austin Wintory:

http://austinwintory.com/

More about The Banner Saga and Stoic Studio:

http://stoicstudio.com/

The Banner Saga is available for Mac and PC:

http://store.steampowered.com/app/237990/