Raleigh Studios

youtube id: 
8n3zmct70rQ

There are big things coming out of the little town of Senoia, Georgia—like the most popular TV show in the history of cable, for example. That’s right, it’s shot at Raleigh Studios, about an hour’s drive south of Atlanta. We go behind the scenes and talk with the experts about what it takes to create the fictional world of The Walking Dead.

Prosthetics

Prosthetics

One of the keys for creating zombie illusions is the use of prosthetics. We find out what they are, and how they’re used in television.

Chroma Key

Chroma Key

Also known as “Green Screen,” Chroma Key isn’t just used by TV weather people. It’s also a great tool for creating special effects, as we explain here.

Atlanta Metro

Special Thanks To

Brandee Brooks, Tom Luse, Greg Nicotero, John Sanders, Tasha Wdowin, Graham ‘Grace’ Walker, Scott Tigchelaar, Raleigh Studios, AMC Film Holdings LLC and AMC’s The Walking Dead.

RALEIGH STUDIOS

OPEN ON TEXT MATCHING VO AS HE SPEAKS:

VO

The following video was created for educational purposes and is intended for mature audiences and/or Georgia teenagers. It contains some graphic violence, which we realize is kind of unusual in an educational video. Viewer discretion is advised.

(AS IF CALLING OFF MIC) Is that it?

FEMALE VO

That'll do it.

VO

What's the best way to kill a zombie?

SCOTT

Oh there's just so many choices.

(I BELIEVE WE CAN FIND CREATIVE WAYS TO ADDRESS B-ROLL IN THE FOLLOWING SEQUENCE ABOUT HOW TO KILL A ZOMBIE WITHOUT ACTUAL SHOW CLIPS. IF THERE ARE CONCERNS, I CAN REWRITE THIS OPEN.)

GREG

You know I think one of the most effective ways to kill a zombie is to crush its head.

TASHA

I love the sword taking off the head.

GRACE

I guess the crossbow's a pretty neat way of taking a zombie down.

TOM

A Katonah sword.

JOHN

Actually Tyreese's hammer is my favorite. We do take it to another level when you talk about putting something in the zombie's head.

TITLE SEQUENCE

VO

Today Fast Forward is visiting The Walking Dead, the most popular TV show in the history of cable. And it just happens to be shot at Raleigh Studios in Senoia, Georgia. So let's start with a little fact you probably didn't know about this show.

JOHN

Our blood is mint flavored.

VO

Yep. And that means walking dead zombies have minty-fresh breath.

INSERT ZOMBIE STILL WITH GLEAMING TOOTH AND BELL SFX (WOULD LIKE TO DO THIS WITH STILL IMAGE, BUT IT OBVIOUSLY INVOLVES A ZOMBIE ACTOR)

VO (CONT'D)

By the way, that's John. And he's the prop master for The Walking Dead.

JOHN

I have the maddest props in the business right now. We have every type of smashing, killing, slashing, slicing, chopping, removing device there is.

VO

That means when you see zombies in the show chomping on human flesh, he's really the guy behind the scenes who's feeding them. But feeding them what you ask?

INSERT BTS FOOTAGE OF ZOMBIE FLESH PROPS.

JOHN

That is actually a combination of hams we have specially roasted. And then we soak them in a specially made barbeque blood sauce we make, and it penetrates the meat. So when they bite into the meat it tears and squishes blood all over the place. And the funny thing is a number of people on the show have really enjoyed it...

VO

And don't worry if you're a vegetarian zombie...

JOHN

We had some vegetarian zombies, which we kind of got a good laugh out of but we did make vegetarian sausage for them...

VO

A big part of John's job is making the unreal look real. And it's not just his job.

GREG

Ultimately my job is to make the audience believe whatever it is that they're watching is really happening.

VO

Meet special effects make-up designer and executive producer Greg Nicotero.

GREG

I've worked with Quinton Tarantino. I've worked with Frank Darabont. I've work with Steven Spielberg. All the people that I looked up to when I was a young budding film fan were people that I found myself standing next to on a movie set.

VO

And these guys are still asked by those directors to use a lot of the stuff he learned in high school.

GREG

They were literally soliciting my knowledge from what I had studied in high school as to what to do in reality.

VO

And what kind of stuff did you study?

GREG

I studied biology. I studied science. I was a really good student because at that point in my life I was convinced that I was going to follow in my father's footsteps and become a physician.

JOHN

I thought I was going to be a doctor. I studied biology and chemistry...

VO

And even though that doctor thing didn't work out, those subjects still comes in handy.

GREG

I would of never imagined that the art background that I had and the biology background that I had, would push me into a situation where I was designing gags where people get their faces ripped off.

VO

In your defense, that's pretty hard to predict.

So let's talk about how you guys...fake that reality.

TASHA

Unlike the walkers on our show your brain is still functional. It's time for a teachable moment.

VO

To make actors look like zombies, Greg and his team use something called prosthetics.

GREG

It's a piece of either foam latex or silicon or gelatin (TEXT: "LATEX-A NATURAL CHEMICAL POLYMER MADE OF CARBON, OXYGEN AND NITROGEN, FOUND IN TREE SAP" "SILICONE-A SYNTHETIC POLYMER MADE OF SILICON AND OXYGEN" "GELATIN-A PROTEIN PRODUCT REMOVED FROM ANIMAL BONES AND SKIN") that changes the shape of your face. On The Walking Dead we have bite wounds, we have prosthetics that accentuate the bone structure to make the eyes look sunken in. (B-ROLL HERE CAN BE BTS OF GREG OR OTHERS)

VO

So prosthetics is one of the tools Greg uses to fool viewers. But this show also uses technology to pull that off.

VO

On The Walking Dead, this can mean everything from cutting-edge 3D CGI (TEXT: "CGI-COMPUTER GENERATED IMAGERY"), where you create images completely on a computer, to Chroma key, which is an old-school trick. Sometimes called green screen, Chroma key is basically a mathematical code that tells a computer editing system to ignore a certain wavelength of light, like green, and replace those pixels with something else. It's used by TV weather people all the time, but can also be used in more complex ways on shows like The Walking Dead. For example, making arms and legs disappear. (I'D LOVE TO INSERT THE BICYCLE GIRL BTS EXAMPLE FROM SEASON 1, AND THEN SHOW HOW THE "ARMS AND LEGS DISAPPEAR" IN THE BTS & SHOW CLIP-IF POSSIBLE.)

And understanding this type of technology is important because there are a lot of high-skill jobs opening up in places like this.

RALEIGH SIGNAGE/IMAGES (PRIMARILY FROM WEBSITE)

SCOTT

Raleigh Studios, Atlanta is on 120 acres. We're just outside of Peachtree City, Georgia in the little town of Senoia. And we have everything a major studio has on kind of a smaller scale.

VO

Which means a lot of great jobs.

SCOTT

Well at this point and time, there are likely more jobs than there are people to fill them in the film industry in Georgia.

VO

One more time!?

SCOTT

There's more production work going on than there are people to fill the positions. So it's a good time to get into the film business.

VO

Okay. Doing what?

TOM

Everybody wants to be a writer or a director but there's 150 jobs on this show...

SCOTT

Everything from a production assistant on up to a special effects person...

GRACE

...Scenic artists, painters, carpenters...

TOM

...grips, electricians, camera people, props, wardrobe, set dressing, construction...

VO

They've even got jobs you wouldn't expect to find here.

TASHA

I am the set medic for The Walking Dead. (TEXT: "IRONIC-CONTRARY TO WHAT IS EXPECTED OR INTENDED...LIKE A MEDIC FOR ZOMBIES") My job on The Walking Dead is to keep the living and the walkers all healthy and keep them going.

VO

So if you've got an interest in the medical field, but also have a passion for the spotlight, you've got options.

TASHA

Set medics can be anything from an EMT, paramedic, a nurse, a physician's assistant, nurse practitioner...

VO

And what do I need to do--to do what you do?

TASHA

A lot of colleges will offer two to four-year EMT and paramedic courses...

VO

Okay. This all sounds great. But let's be honest. To work in show business, don't you have to "know somebody?"

TOM

Well I was a 15-year-old Georgia teenager and I went to Chamblee High school. And so I think that proof's in the pudding. I mean I went to public schools here at high school and I went to Georgia State for college. And you don't have to be born with a silver spoon to get in the film business. Far from it.

VO

How did it happen for you?

TOM

Popping popcorn.

VO

More details please.

TOM

I liked movies so I got a job at a movie theater, and eventually realized that what I liked to do all the time was a way I could actually make a living.

VO

Sounds good to me. How good is it?

TASHA

We live in a fantasy every single day. It's hard. It's a lot of work. It took all of us a lot of school, a lot of training to get where we are, but in the end we get the best job I think ever.

GREG

...I think the most exciting thing is when I meet people who come up and will quote to me movies that I've done and you know they'll be younger people and I'll always say listen that could be you one of these days. One of these days you know you may be the next special effects make-up person that will then be bringing your talent and your skill to the movie industry...

VO

Good to know. And even better that it can all happen right here in Georgia! We'll let you guys get back to creating your world of The Walking Dead, and see everyone else on the next episode of Fast Forward.

END SEQUENCE

This content was developed under a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. However, this content does not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.