June 17, 2016

Anna Wyckoff

Costume Designer Mayes Rubeo was taken by surprise during her initial meeting with director Duncan Jones for the film Warcraft. While Rubeo was expecting an interview, Jones’ team behaved as if she was starting the job the following Monday. Rubeo later learned the team thought she would be perfect for the project long before the meeting. Well-versed in CGI based on her experience working on films like Avatar and John Carter, Rubeo concurred and took the job.

She did not play video games, but Rubeo embraced the gaming world whole-heartedly because she feels it is a ubiquitous component of modern culture. However, a property like Warcraft bears its own unique challenges because it claims a fervent worldwide audience of about nine million. While Rubeo had to answer immediately to the directors’ and her own vision, ultimately a passionate audience would weigh in on the effectiveness of her designs. In order to translate the game into a film, Rubeo felt she needed to take a two-dimensional world and transform it into a third dimension. After extensive research she considered the Orcs as if they had actually lived. The Orcs are a people fleeing their own dying civilization and attempting to colonize another world. She thought about how they would use their hands and created a craft style for them. She then employed those techniques to design their costumes.

Although the film was created using CGI, Rubeo explains, “Cutting edge technology doesn’t change the work for Costume Designers, we still do traditional filmmaking. I have to source fabric and trims. I still work with every character individually and I enjoy doing that.” Rubeo made every Orc and CG character, from their garments to their jewelry and decorations, even styling each tusk. She believes that if each character is thoroughly established it frees the concept artists from having to guess or make conclusions at any point in their work.

Rubeo made all of the garments in Vancouver with the exception of the Orc costumes. For the Orcs, she used the same team that manufactured the film Apocalypto. Fellow 892 member, Stacy Caballero served as her assistant designer. Each person on her crew served a specific task from the leather master to the costume armor master and the jeweler. Rubeo’s trusted department totaled 72. Almost as complex as conceiving of the costumes, was coordinating their construction. In the end, thousands of costumes were created for the film. Rubeo takes great satisfaction in the end results and revels in the fact that her current challenge in Costume Design is creating new armor and new worlds in the newest technology, using old-fashioned techniques.

Warcraft (Universal Pictures) is in theatres now.

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