The Walking Dead: famous CGI deer isn’t what we thought

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne - The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 5 - Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC /

Six years ago, on March 3, 2017, The Walking Dead episode “Say Yes” premiered on AMC. This episode is Rick and Michonne centric, and fans loved all the Richonne content. This episode was the twelfth in season 7, written by Matt Negrete and directed by Greg Nictoero, and is famous for the controversial CGI deer featured in a scene with Rick.

This episode finds Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) scavenging for weapons to fulfill their deal with Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh). They discover a school surrounded by a chain link fence, and a walker approaches with a gun slung on its back and many shell casings on the ground. From the school roof, they find numerous walkers with firearms on the school grounds, and Michonne describes the scene as a battlefield. They fall through the roof of the school and discover a large number of canned goods and other supplies.

They devise a plan to clear the walkers so they can load the supplies and use this to fulfill their agreements with the Saviors and Jadis. They split up and put their plan into action. During this time, Rick discovers a deer near a Ferris wheel, and viewers couldn’t believe their eyes. The fake deer, which you can see in the scene below, was terribly done, especially for a series that cranks out some of the most amazing SFX.

But hold on a minute. The deer wasn’t CGI. 

The Walking Dead CGI deer

In 2022, YouTube personality Katie O’Shaughnessy interviewed Walking Dead VFX supervisor Aaron Mclane, and he gave some insight into the deer. Mclane would clarify that this scene was before his time on the series, but he knows the inside story of how the deer footage was created for this scene.

You can listen to the portion below, and I recommend listening to the entire interview as it is very insightful.

"The deer is shot for a different plate, and then they changed it without enough time to go shoot a new deer or make a CGI deer. So basically they went and filmed the deer in the woods, and then from a certain angle, expecting it to fit together nicely. But then editorial changed the angle, and the deer doesn’t fit, so he doesn’t look right. And that’s why it looks fake. That’s why it looks so CG, its a reall deer dot for a different shot."

Not that it makes the scene any better, but it does clarify what was going on with the production for this scene.

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