Locke & Key Has Become an Audio Book and Virtual Reality Experience on Audible


Joe Hill’s recent horror-family-drama masterpiece Locke & Key was an incredible engaging read.  Telling the story of the Locke family recovering from the murder of their father, they enter a family house that has a set of keys that can allow them to have supernatural powers.  This is just the set-up to a story of horror and tragedy, but also how you make a family really work in a world that lacks material stability.  This IDW book came in six complete volumes and was known for being incredibly narrative, which is to be expected as the author, Joe Hill, is Stephen King’s son.

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Audible has taken this incredibly popular property and gone a couple of interesting directions with it.  The Locke & Key Audio that has an audio cast including Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense), Orphan Black‘s Tatiana Maslany, and Kate Mulgrew of Star Trek: Voyager fame.  It plays as more of a radio drama than just an audio book, where voice actors play out the narrative in conversation and as a performance narrative.  This is a unique take as comics are a uniquely visual medium and have been adapted to radio much less often, though we still have a special place for the Kingdom Come radio version.

In an effort to promote this digital version, Audible and the digital agency Firtborn created a 360 degree virtual reality experience for New York Comic Con.  Audible SVP Global Brand Marketing Barbara Ward Thall spoke about how they wanted to promote the audio version and drop listeners right into the Locke & Key world:

From the beginning, Locke & Key was conceived to truly immerse listeners in the terrifying world created in the graphic novels, thanks to a cast of highly skilled actors, a soundscape that envelops you from all sides, and an original musical score, the audio drama succeeds in doing just that.  Given the 360-degree sound design, we thought it only made sense to bring a scene from Locke & Key to life in VR. The fact that the audio drama was scheduled to launch the same week as NY Comic Con gave us the perfect opportunity to share this ambitious and exciting creation with some of its most ardent fans….Audible fans already know is that listening to a great story ignites your imagination and transports you to another place in your mind,

The experience itself is the first to combine full CGI with with VR to create an immersive digital world.  This means that you really are placed inside of a complete world that was constructed in the same technology that lights up the videogame world.  Firstborn VP of content development Seth Tabor spoke about how they wanted to put listeners directly into the comic that already exists.

To actually transport fans into the beloved graphic novel, there were visual and narrative constraints that we had to follow to make sure we were staying true to the series.  Our greatest challenge was truly capturing Rodriguez’s artistic style to ensure that when fans strapped on the headset they felt like they were actually transported to the grounds of Locke House. Once we established the visual authenticity we needed, we then had the creative freedom to play up the immersive nature of the experience like incorporating a butterfly flitting by to draw your eyes across the 360-degree environment.

The audio book for Locke & Key Audio is available at Audible right now for free until November 3rd, and runs a little under 14 hours. This may seem daunting, but it is actually much less than many books and it includes all six volumes.

Watch the demo video for the Lock & Key Virtual Reality experience:

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