The Walking Dead season 6: Zombies enter the digital age

walker, The Walking Dead Season 6, AMC
walker, The Walking Dead Season 6, AMC /

The Walking Dead is more than just a television show, it is a piece of art.  It’s a corny line, but it is true.

AMC’s zombie survival drama takes a lot to be made. The costume designs, make up, scenery and props are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this program.

Perhaps the biggest pieces of art on The Walking Dead are the zombies themselves.  In a digital age, The Walking Dead has focused on creating their undead monsters through old school special effects artistry rather than take the walkers into the digital age, but that looks to change with season 6.

In a recent interview on The Hollywood Reporter’s website, The Walking Dead’s executive producer and special effects master Greg Nicotero spoke about doing something a little different to make the walkers look more decayed and grotesque.

"“We’re doing a few things we haven’t done before, which is digital augmentation of couple of walkers. We’re moving noses and putting a cavity there. Taking the area underneath the ribcage and shrinking it down. Kind of Bernie Wrightson style. That stuff is what makes it more exciting because it gives us more opportunities.”"

decayed walker, The Walking Dead - AMC
decayed walker, The Walking Dead – AMC /

For those who aren’t familiar with Wrightson, he is well-known in the horror comic book community for his work on the Swamp Thing graphic novels as well as some books for Marvel Comics.  His technique is an interesting one, which makes dead bodies look more decomposed by making them look more starved and elongating the face, sometimes removing the nose entirely.

The walkers during season 6 will need that kind of treatment, as they should almost have the flesh falling right off their bones at this point.  And with how often The Walking Dead will reinvent their legion of undead, it is the logical step for season 6.

"“Every season we sort of refine [the walkers]. We refine the teeth even more and we just keep changing it up, and every season it’s been different and we just keep pushing it a little bit more. It’s been really fun. We sculpted full muscle arms and then we added sagging flesh off of them as everything is about to drip off. [Showrunner] Scott [M. Gimple] has one very specific thing that he is conscious of, which is that it can’t be a Ray Harryhausen. It can’t be a walking skeleton. It always has to be muscles. It always has to be something that is motivating the movement.”"

While I’m personally a big fan of Ray Harryhuausen, his work wouldn’t quite work with The Walking Dead.  I grew up watching his fantastic work on great films like Clash of the Titans (1981), Jason and the Argonauts (1963), and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958).  Fans of those shows likely remember how great the skeletons were during the fight scenes and how they came to life for the special effects of the time.

Still, it’s interesting that The Walking Dead clings to the realism that muscles are needed to move these monsters around in their never-ending search for human flesh.  I’m interested to see how the combination of prosthetic and digital imagery can come together to create a new undead experience for the show.

We’ll find out more when The Walking Dead returns on October 11, 2015 for the season 6 premiere.

Next: Walking Dead 50 most shocking moments and deaths

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