As The Walking Dead Season 6 hits our screens tonight, we look back over Stargate Studio's wonderful, horrible visual effects for the zombie TV show (with VFX breakdowns).
The Walking Dead features arguably the best visual effects seen on the TV in the past decade. Likely, you didn't notice them – which is the point as one of the biggest triumphs for the show is making you feel immersed in a world that feels entirely real.
Over six seasons, VFX house Stargate Studios has created some very nasty ends for both humans and zombies alike – including hundreds of head shots (or smashes) and decapitations, as well as some very inventive ways of killing zombies such as under the spinning wheels of a car. They've brough zombies to life (well, death) missing a wide variety of body parts, burned zombies and buildings to the ground, and turned whole cities into scarred, crippled landscapes.
Unlike many zombie films, the horrors are rarely where the camera focusses. Shots are usually framed around the characters, which increases the sense of reality. You don't just see a zombie being decapidated – you see Michonne decapitating a zombie with her katana. Even when character's die the focus is usually as much on their face as the experience some horrific end as on what's being done to the rest of their body.
This helps Stargate hide the seams between the digital and footage – and you're not looking at them so often or for so long (as you do with Game of Thrones' dragons, for example). Watching these reels, it's quite surprising how much has been done digitally.
So as the first episode of Season 6 hits British TV tonight (9pm on Fox) after its US debut yesterday, let's look back over five seasons of the most convincing digital gore around (and the take a peek at Season 6). You can see Stargate's Best of Reel at the top of this story, which collects gory VFX from the first five seasons – and see breakdowns of older seasons below.