Carol (Melissa McBride) with one of "The Walking Dead"'s more popular characters Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus).

Don't believe your eyes: 6 'Walking Dead' scenes that used CGI

Set in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse, “The Walking Dead” must use visual effects to make many of the scenes you see possible. Victor Scalise, the show’s visual effects supervisor, explains how the show uses CGI, or computer-generated images, to create its post-apocalyptic world.

1. Episode 403: Isolation

Starts at about 2:50. In this episode, viewers see the most walkers ever in one shot throughout the series. Scalise said 100 real walkers were used in the foreground, with about 7,000 CGI walkers behind the real ones. Scalise said they wanted real walkers close to the camera so viewers would think the shot was real. “I think we did a great job of kind of letting the real walkers blend right into digital without the audience knowing,” he said.

2. Episode 501: No Sanctuary

Starts at about 3:45. Carol blows up tanks at Terminus in this episode, causing about 15 walkers to shoot up in six-story-high flames. Special effects created the explosion, and CGI created the flaming body parts that flew out of the fireball. Scalise said this was an instance where practical and digital effects were mixed as seamlessly as possible to create a massive, spectacular explosion.  

3. Episode 506: Consumed

Starts at about :25. Daryl and Carol get trapped on a bridge and the skyline of Atlanta is shown for the first time in several episodes. This scene lent itself to digital mappings and some CG projection to show how time had passed and how nature had reclaimed the city, Scalise said. Visual effects added holes in buildings, scorch marks in various places, and greenery and kudzu to the landscape. “We want to tell the story that Atlanta’s not a place you want to go,” Scalise said. “It’s not a safe place. It’s been run down. It’s seen its better days at this point. We wanted to help tell that visually through the mappings and the destruction we did throughout the city.”

4. Episode 507: Crossed

Starts at about 3:32. In this scene, Daryl fights a police officer in a parking lot where several walkers have been melted into the asphalt over time, causing them to look fleshy and gross. On the ground, Daryl grabs the head of a nearby walker through the eyes and uses it to hit the police officer in the head multiple times. Makeup effects and visual effects came together to make this cool walker weapon. Viewers see tearing of added CG skin as Daryl rips the walker head off. “This was another one where we had a really nice prosthetic gag and just a hint of CG that really takes the gag to the next level and really kind of grosses your audience out,” Scalise said.

5. Episode 404: Indifference

Starts at about 3:28. Digital effects usually are used when Michonne is around and uses her katana to slice and chop through things, Scalise said. In this episode, Michonne and Daryl are at an abandoned gas station, looking at an overgrown area with a wall of kudzu. Walkers are in the kudzu, trying to attack them, and Michonne slices one of their head and arms off. Digital effects make Michonne’s killing scenes happen. “We use her half sword where we have kind of a prop that’s cut in half,” Scalise said. “And then what she’ll do is she’ll swing the sword at a walker, and then we’ll digitally put a blade on the sword. Then, usually whatever she’s slicing through will digitally drop in half, and we’ll add a bunch of gore and grossness.”

6. Episode 502: Strangers

Starts at 2:50. Several characters are in a flooded food bank where walkers have been soaking in water for months. Scalise said the crew is always trying to come up with creative ways to kill walkers. In this scene, they wanted Michonne to use a common kitchen item. They added a computer-generated blender utensil as Michonne brings it up to the walker’s head. “We kind of wanted to show Michonne’s instincts at play and not try to be ‘Oh, she’s MacGyver and came up with like a fast plan of killing a walker,’ but instead she can react and let her instincts go and can grab the little blender element and just stab the walker and kill it,” Scalise said. 

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