Post Magazine

March 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 13 of 51 12 POST MARCH 2015 nyone who watches The Walking Dead, airing Sunday nights on AMC, knows that zombies can be blown up, dismembered, stabbed, shot, crushed and set on fire — but the only way to actually kill them, is to kill their brains. The highly-successful, Emmy Award-winning series, based on Robert Kirkman's original comics, has, for the past five seasons, been feeding viewers' appetites for a zombiepocalypse. The Walking Dead tells the story of how survivors (non-zombies) of the pandemic are left to exist, relying solely on basic survival skills. While there's not much by way of electricity, heat, gas or pre-packaged food for survivors, there certainly are plenty of zombies — as well as a multitude of ways to kill them. According to Al Lopez, VP of creative services at LA's Stargate Studios, which works closely with the show's VFX su- pervisor Victor Scalise, the "zombie kills" are "the bread and butter shots," and the majority of the studio's work on the series. "There's such a wide range of ways to kill a zombie in every episode and [the producers] are always coming up with new ones," explains Lopez. "So, a lot of what we do is the violence — the killing of zombies. The blood when [the humans] stab them, the extensions of the weapons that they kill them with, the de- capitations. For the most part, especially when we get into cutting the body and cutting body parts off, that's us taking the footage and adding wounds, blood, taking off body limbs and making them fly off." Lopez points to scenes with one of the show's characters, Michonne (actress Danai Gurira), who has been known to use her blade to slice up a few zombies. "That's the focus of what we do," he says, "which is cool, because they're very cre- ative on how to kill zombies." "Basically, anything they won't legally let us do to a real actor," jokes Michael Cook, VFX artist at Stargate. "We also do set extensions. For instance, last year, [some characters] were approaching a fence around a prison, which was shot on location where they didn't actually have that building. So, we created a full 3D building and put it in seamlessly." Stargate has also been known to add hundreds of zombies to scenes originally shot with just a handful of zombie actors. Lopez explains that for the actual zombie kills, a good amount of the VFX work they do are what he calls "head- shots," where, for instance, one of the characters would shoot a cross bow at a zombie's head and the VFX team will add a CG arrow to the scene. So, the team has to track the camera and the zombie that's being affected. "Without a solid track, our 2D and 3D compositing will just slip and slide, and never blend seamlessly," says Lopez. After the team gets a solid track, they typically add a wound and some blood in the compositing stages, and then send AMC'S THE WALKING DEAD BY LINDA ROMANELLO STARGATE STUDIOS DETAILS 101 WAYS TO KILL A ZOMBIE A PRIMETIME Stargate's (L-R) Lopez and Cook help create the show's zombie carnage.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Post Magazine - March 2015