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How Resident Evil’s tallest and scariest vampire lady, Alcina Dimitrescu, came to life


Countess Alcina Dimitrescu is not technically a vampire, but she is definitely an icon.

From the moment she appeared in the early trailer for Resident Evil: Village, Lady Dimitrescu attracted the attention of the internet: her tall, steamy body; her sickly-sweet smile; her massive hat; its true but authoritative tone. Viewers were immediately obsessed, labeling her as a “tall vampire lady” and demanding to know everything about her, which led Capcom to reveal her exact height – 9’6 “including a hat and heels – months earlier. The village launched in May.

In the game, Lady Dimitrescu commands three killer daughters full of flies and hunts down the main character, Ethan Winters, through the lavish rooms of his castle. She crouches through the door and cuts Ethan with long blade-like nails, throwing insults like “rat” and “man” at him all the time, a mutant dominance in a fluttering white dress.

Twilight Sparkle

The intrigue surrounding Lady Dimitrescu has been going on ever since The village‘s launch, and fans are betting (or maybe just really hoping) that the first part of the game’ s DLC will focus on it.

Until then, in the spirit of the spooky season, we have an insight into the creation of Lady Dimitrescu from The village presentation director Masato Miyazaki, the person in charge of the process of recording the movement in the game. Earlier this year, Miyazaki shared with Engadget details about how Lady Dimitrescu came to be, from concept to mokap, including the ways in which actress Maggie Robertson brought her into legendary life.

Engadget: Did Lady Dimitrescu’s design change during development?

Masato Miyazaki: The incredible height of Alcina Dimitrescu was conceived from the beginning and did not change during development. The same goes for her wide-brimmed hat and her white dress. However, the characteristic of her long protruding nails was something that was added during the development process. It was an idea that was later implemented as a means of adding physical elements that would make it even scarier when you meet it.

Lady Dimitrescu is alluring and seductive was she always supposed to be a paired character or did it appear during mokap?

In the early stages of development, she was described as an enchanting character who would catch and play with her victims. It is designed to embody equal parts of beauty and horror. Based on that, the screenwriter further supplemented his characterization with dialogue, but it has not yet been fully realized. Through Maggie’s performance the character finally got life.

As with any character, I believe that the moment the script is handed over to the actor, the character becomes theirs. The personality and intentions of the character are very refined by the actor. The character of Lady Dimitrescu is truly realized and is realized with every Maggie performance.

Lady Dimitrescu (Maggie Robertson) in Resident Evil Village

Capcom

What tricks did you use to make Maggie Robertson as tall as possible during the mokap sessions?

Although Maggie Robertson herself is quite tall, she still can’t reach the height we envisioned for Lady Dimitrescu. Using some means to increase the height would jeopardize its performance, so it was not something we could consider. We asked Maggie to behave naturally. However, this still left us a difference in height between Maggie and Lady Dimitrescu that needed to be addressed. We have devised several methods to counteract this problem.

First, we shot with a background mix according to two standards: the human scale and the Lady Dimitrescu scale. While the other characters played in an environment appropriate to human scale, Lady Dimitrescu’s acting was performed in front of a background that suited her measure. They all performed with each other, but with this mix of surroundings. We thought that would be the best way to enable the actors to give their best performances without any obstacles. We made sure that the furniture was placed so that the actors were facing each other.

Another aspect we made sure to stay aware of was that the lines of sight of the actors are in the right positions. We set the markers so that the actors can imagine the exact height. These markers show the correct position of the eye lines and where the limbs are actually located. It’s easy to set up, but makes a big difference in acting performances.

The third adjustment was the equipment itself. We have carefully set up the equipment of the CG characters to gracefully resolve as many physical differences between the character and the actor as possible. We wanted to make sure we set things up so that the animators would be relatively easier to deal with any misjudgments that happened along the way.

What was the weirdest prop you used during the mocap process?

There are a few, but there are two I would like to mention. The first is a stick carried by an old woman we meet at the beginning of the village. When you see it in the game, it is a strange artifact with many components that rattle. The study team made a prop reminiscent of the design.

Others are the glasses our actor Todd wore while playing the role of Ethan Winters. Since the game is from a first-person perspective through Ethan Winters ’eyes, the camera’s movements are based on Todd’s head movements. Todd repeats his role of Ethan from the previous game and his performances are absolutely great, but there were moments when the camera would go wild during the more vivid scenarios. To prevent this, the studio engineer manually created a pair of special glasses.

It turned out that they actually look very similar to swimming goggles. The assumption was that a narrower field of view would result in less head movement. I’m still not quite sure how effective they ended up being, but the engineer’s enthusiasm and Todd having fun wearing the glasses are one of the many wonderful memories I have from the whole experience.

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Naveen Kumar

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