In our latest Anatomy of a Scene interview, we chatted with Yuri Gorbachow on 'Vikings Valhalla' season 2.
PH: Which scene was your favorite to work on in Vikings Valhalla season 2?
Yuri Gorbachow: I would choose the scene in episode 204 (conveniently named “The Thaw”) where the horse-drawn sled/boat that Harald is on gets trapped in the ice on the Dnieper River. The delay in freeing it brings on a new danger as the ice dam breaks sending a torrent of ice and water towards the boat, freeing it from its sled and sending it downriver at great cost to the crew.
PH: Describe this scene and the significance it has to the rest of the season.
Yuri Gorbachow: This scene represents the midpoint of season 2 and a lot of story arcs are in full motion. Harald and company need to get to Constantinople. Each of the characters on the boat has important reasons for reaching their final destinations. Their boat becomes stuck in the ice suspending their journey for a moment of extreme danger. The ice dam breaking sets the boat in motion again to deliver the crew and begin a new chapter on the river.
PH: What technical challenges did you encounter while working on this scene?
Yuri Gorbachow: We had to constantly adjust the music as the picture underwent changes due to the incoming visual effects of the ice dam breaking. VFX was not added all at once. Shots were incrementally provided and inserted changing picture position. So, once I had conformed and adjusted the music, another wave of VFX changes would arrive requiring yet another conform. There was a time when it was crucial to maintain a locked picture but now given the tools available in a digital audio workstation (DAW), we have more control and opportunity to correct for picture trims.
PH: What tools, plugins or instruments did you use in your production of this scene?
Yuri Gorbachow: My main tool is Pro Tools for music editing. Plugins would include a good quality time compressor/expander as well as reverb. Once I start cutting and moving the music around, I need these tools to smooth out the changes. I also automate the volumes of the individual stems or music components for appropriate internal balances that can then be mixed into their final positions.
PH: What was the dialogue like between you and executive producer Sheila Hockin regarding this scene?
Yuri Gorbachow: The dialogue for music begins early with a group music spotting session where story, tone, and emotion are discussed with the composer, picture editor, music editor, and an exec producer or two. I’ll summarize those notes and get them to the composer. The next opportunity for discussion is after the composer delivers their first pass of the score. I will mix it with the existing dialogue and sound effects and send it off for a screening and an evaluation. Notes will come back indicating music changes throughout. The episode then gets mixed using the updated (or 2nd pass) score from the composer.
The dialogue between Sheila and I continues with the first mix playback. The composer is not in attendance so it’s my job to facilitate any musical changes. Now that all of the final dialogue, music, and sound effects are mixed in place, a fresh set of corrective notes throughout the episode is derived. For the “Ice Dam” scene, one of the music notes was…“too much action for the moment”. The response was to tastefully start the cue later by moving it to an appropriate “in point” and then splicing that to the existing cue where it is working well. Also, as we have separate stems available, we were able to move them to thin out parts of the cue and bring them in as we needed.