One of the things AMC’s flagship drama The Walking Dead has prided itself on during its soon-to-be six seasons of undead horror is its astonishing practical effects and make-up work that have literally brought the undead to life. The series has also set itself apart by demonstrating how the decomposition of the walking dead has progressively worsened with each passing season. And now, with the premiere of the aforementioned sixth season arriving in just over a month, executive producer Greg Nicotero has discussed what kind of role digital effects will play in making that deterioration look even more frightening.

For what it’s worth, there has always been some level of digital effects work being done on The Walking Dead, work that has typically enhanced the often astonishing physical effects work by artists like Nicotero and his team. These CGI effects often helped create things like Michonne’s armless pets, or the gruesome bifurcation of a bloated well zombie in season 2. It has also been used to help create large groups of walkers, and to augment certain horrific death scenes, like that of Tyler James Williams’ Noah.

From what it sounds like, the series still plans to utilize the physical make up as much as possible, using CGI to craft moving images that would otherwise simply be impossible. FX artist and executive producer Greg Nicotero told THR that:

“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.”

The Walking Dead Season 6 Zombie Walking Dead Season 6 Using Digital Effects for Scarier Zombies

One area in which the creators seem to be moving in the opposite direction, effects-wise, is when it comes to creating seething crowds of the undead. Nicotero says “this season, we had 300 walkers in one day, which is the most we had ever done.” So, while fans can expect to see more CGI-enhanced  corpses gnawing on living characters, theres no substitute for hundreds of dedicated extras when it comes time to go for the terrifying wide angle shot.

Still, for horror purists who demand physical effects be given preference over the digital kind, current showrunner Scott Gimple has your back. And if recently released images from the upcoming season are any indication, the dead will maintain a certain look, no matter how far they decay.

“Scott [Gimple] has one very specific thing that he is conscious of, which is 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.”

Nicotero’s statement could mean that on some level, there will always be actors playing walkers, rather than fully digital creations to which the living characters must respond. Judging by the images and trailers from the new season that have already been seen, fans won’t have to worry about the gory look of the show changing any time soon.

The Walking Dead returns October 11th at 9pm on AMC. Fear the Walking Dead currently airs Sunday nights at 9pm on AMC.

Source: THR (via Screencrush)

Photo: Greg Nicotero/AMC

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