Certain things are expected from fantasy in film and television, a lot of which requires the use of visual effects. In that regard, Netflix's upcoming dark fantasy series, The Witcher, aims to be unique. At least, that is what production designer Andrew Laws and showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich recently hinted.
In an interview with Première magazine, Laws explained the vision behind the overall look of the series, stating (roughly translated from French) "I don't want to see the actor play in front of a green screen, talking to a green ball." He continued, "We wanted something real, even during fight sequences." He then pointed out that audiences nowadays are able to easily recognize CGI on the screen and that it often hinders immersion. Laws then stated, "If you create excellent CGI in one scene, you have to keep the same level of quality for all the others."
Hissrich also expressed a certain disinterest in the use of CGI for The Witcher. She explained that "It was important for the show to have an authentic style," adding, "A superb video game already exists, and I really didn't want our show to look like it."
This attitude toward CGI might lead some viewers to believe that The Witcher will not be able to match other fantasy shows in terms of scale. After all, HBO spent upwards of $10 million per episode in later seasons of Game of Thrones, while Amazon has already spent roughly $1 billion on its Lord of the Rings series. Laws disagrees, "We are not the poor cousin of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones," he said, before adding, "Netflix has given us quite a lot to work with! We have filmed gigantic scenes, and we have given our series a production value worthy of the big screen."
The Witcher is a fantasy series through and through; there are ancient races, sorceresses, monstrous behemoths and more, but Andrzej Sapkowski's novels -- on which the upcoming series is based -- has never really been about those elements. The fantasy elements have only ever been used to explore complex themes and characters, which seems to be what the series aims to do.
The Witcher stars Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia, Anya Chalotra as Yennefer of Vengerberg, Freya Allan as Ciri and Joey Batey as Jaskier. The series will be available to stream on Netflix this December.