A few months after its release, apparently Resident Evil VillageIts lasting legacy will be its characters. That was clear early on when Capcom first introduced the instantly iconic Lady Dimitrescu, but the final product only solidified it. Villains like Angie and Moreau left a lasting impression, giving the 25-year-old series some of its most memorable characters to date.
It’s a particularly notable win for Resident Evil in general. Despite being a beloved horror series, the characters and acting aren’t always its strong points. The first game in the series to feature the famous wooden performances that made the game a jokes full of meme. That has changed dramatically over the past few years thanks to motion capture. Resident Evil 7 was the first game in the series to adopt full performance capture, elevating the standards of storytelling and undercutting the rigid video game acting of years past. Resident Evil Village just ups the ante by giving the series its best performances to date.
I talked to Resident Evil VillageMasato Miyazaki, Presentation Director of the introduction to how motion capture brought the game’s eclectic characters to life. Miyazaki explains how embracing technology has allowed the franchise to develop and produce its most compelling bold game yet.
How does motion capture work in Village different from previous Resident Evil games?
We’ve been doing motion capture for many years now and I’d like to believe we’ve accumulated quite a bit of knowledge about it. Instead of changing everything and starting fresh with Resident Evil Village, it’s about refining our workflow to be as streamlined and efficient as possible.
For example, when we are working on Resident Evil 7, we experienced a slight loss in communication between the scriptwriters, cinematographers, actors, and studio staff. We looked at how we could improve from that and applied it to subsequent titles like Resident Evil 2. At the time we are working Resident Evil Village, we were able to fix a lot of issues earlier allowing us to fully focus on making sure we get the best acting performance.
In other words, instead of worrying about logistics and production, we can focus all of our efforts on creativity.
The lycans are much faster and more erratic than traditional Resident Evil enemies. Did the team have difficulty adjusting to the change?
Simply put, it’s quite difficult. I spent a lot of time trying to find the optimal motion of the lycan. We’ve gone through a lot of discussion within the team about the best approach and pace a lycan should take when hunting players. The lycan motif is that of a werewolf, so we also struggled with finding the right movement patterns to best represent this.
We often find that we spend an exceptional amount of time working with the main enemy of any Resident Evil title, and this is no different when dealing with lycan development.
Of the village Villains come in all shapes and sizes, literally. Is there any special equipment or techniques you use to capture characters like Moreau or Angie?
We took particular care in building the character rigs as meticulously as possible so that they most deftly handle the physical differences between actors and in-game characters. Moreau’s spine is heavily deformed, and Angie is a puppet with fewer joints than a human. The studio engineers put a lot of effort into ensuring that the actors’ movements were effectively transferred to the CG characters.
Of course, that wasn’t enough to effectively transfer the actors’ performances into the game. We also took care in creating the background for each scene. For example, in scenes where Dimitrescu interacts with other characters, we set the background to match the scale of each character. This way it won’t hinder the performance of the actors and will account for the size difference between the actors and how the characters can appear in the game.
Was Lady Dimitrescu’s boss form motion captured, and if so, what did that look like on set?
It’s really a combination of animation and motion capture. To recreate the monster’s movements, we need actors with special physical abilities. For this title, we were able to work with an action stuntman from a popular amusement park. He’s done a lot of work for us in the past and helped bring to life the Licker enemy you’ve seen in many previous Resident Evil titles. His performance provides realistic movements as a basic guide. The animators then perfect the movements to correct and magnify them precisely to the monster’s skeleton.
How do you capture physically different characters while still making them feel like they’re all in the same cohesive world?
I think this really encapsulates the core challenge we faced in developing this game. One of the concepts of Resident Evil Village created a horror theme park that gives players various fears and horrors. While this is beneficial in providing different forms of entertainment, one wrong step will make a lot of difference and leave players without an immersive experience.
Therefore, we reviewed each of the ingredients and made sure they fit the overarching world and “survival horror” theme. We realized that would be the best approach in unifying so many different topics together. That’s where the idea of the “village” was born. When looking at the individual components, they may look different, but they all become a cohesive unit when viewed through a “village” lens. It creates the illusion that such a place can exist. As players enjoy a place and move on in anticipation of the next experience, we feel the cohesive environment enhances this level of immersion and enjoyment.
Instead of creating similar designs in an attempt to reinforce the look and feel of the world, we took the opposite approach of tweaking and differentiating each character in the hopes of creating a better world. more memorable and impactful world.
How has working with actors on an actual movie changed what the team has been able to achieve with this franchise in recent years?
It was until Resident Evil 5 that we’ve started shooting full-scale cutscenes for the franchise. Over the past 12 years, quality expectations have certainly increased, not only from a visual standpoint but also from a performance standpoint.
Therefore, we have adopted full performance capture starting from Resident Evil 7. We also revisited the way we work with actors. Up until Resident Evil 6Capcom gave relatively detailed acting instructions, but that tended to result in very similar performances that didn’t allow us to use the talents of the actors.
In recent years, Capcom has limited the synopsis to the essentials, such as concept, production structure, and script, to allow the actors as much freedom of performance as possible. This makes it easier for actors to play the role, sometimes actors give very good suggestions. Of course, there are times when I have to limit the performance of actors due to specification, but I try not to put any restrictions on them.
Therefore, in recent works, the unnatural acting has decreased, and I believe we can deliver more realistic performances.