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Can Walkers Smell Humans

author
Paul Gonzalez
• Tuesday, 03 November, 2020
• 9 min read

“When referencing the show, one of the things that stood out to us was how the Walkers reacted to sound; they were suspicious of gunfire. “They are also attracted to other sounds, so someone moving through that world needs to be aware of the amount and type of noise they make at all times.

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Contents

If you show up with guns blazing, you’ll quickly find yourself dealing with a much larger crowd, and you could easily become overwhelmed.” If that weren’t awesome enough on its own, Terminal Reality is also exploring a realm games rarely wander into: scent.

But the real draw of The Walking Dead are all those mindless killing machines just waiting to take a bite out of our favorite survivors. Even for those who have read all the comics and watch Talking Dead religiously, there is still a thing or two you might not know about these roaming meat puppets.

Whether it's how much walkers make for a living or why they don't like to be called zombies, everyone's favorite slow-moving lamebrains have made a career of catching us by surprise. Originally they were covered in barbecue sauce, but when that kept ruining their makeup, so the hams were plunged into a huge vat of vinegar to give it a nice oozy sheen.

Understandably, after watching walkers chow down on their friends like a pack of wild hyenas during Christmas, many of the show's actors have admitted to going off meat altogether. This was actually one of the more expensive deaths filmed (not counting CGI costs) because they used boneless chicken breasts for his innards.

But regardless of what type of marinaded meat the show is serving up that day, if you're hoping to be an extra on The Walking Dead and are a vegetarian, you might be out of luck. Of the thousands who turn up, only a lucky few are selected and then promptly put through a rigorous training program to bring out their inner zombie.

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Although size, gender, and age don't really matter, the show prefers thinner, more gaunt extras with a specific bone structure who won't appear fluffed up when prosthetic makeup is applied. Led by special effects guru Greg Nicole, seven seasons later The Walking Dead has streamlined walker production like a boss.

Extras come in get some hand-painted contact lenses, custom dentures, a little rotting around the eyes, and before they know it they are certifiably combined. Walkers are classified into four different “waves” with the A group being the ones closest to the camera and receiving the most attention in regard to makeup, usually between one and two hours.

Pittsburgh Steelers' wide receiver and former Georgia Bulldog, Hines Ward was one of the many walkers killed at Woodbury during Season 3. Guitarist Scott Ian of Anthrax fame got his moment of undead glory in episode 12 from Season 5 when he tries to bite Rick's leg and Carl sends a pole through his head.

And probably the strangest cameo comes in Season 6 when Rick, Jesus, and Andy are trying to decide which of three decapitated heads to use in order gain access to the Savior's compound. However, as seasons have progressed, so too has the need to step up the scaring game, which is why the show's creators are relying on digitally retouching individual walkers more than ever before.

Around 200 extras were used to interact directly with the large truck that trapped those walkers in the quarry, while all the rest were generated by computers. While digital additions like these may be obvious, far harder to spot are the times the show relies on a computer to ratchet up the intensity of a scene.

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Aside from just moving a nose or shrinking a rib cage, they can speckle an entire walker or two that you would never know wasn't real, as shown by visual FX supervisor Victor Scale. As far as effects go the most impressive to come out of Season 7 will most likely be Ezekiel's pet tiger, but Shiva's not dead, so moving on...

The Walking Dead's Executive Producer Greg Nicole says that he tells any new roaming recruit that if they truly want to capture the essence of a shambling zombie to just act like they're coming out of a bar at two in the morning. The show's creators view walkers as slow and methodical, like lions stalking an animal-- except when there's a delicious human nearby, which will get them all riled up.

So Nicole recommends that anyone playing a Creeper act as relaxed as if they'd just tossed back a quart of Johnny Walker. Then, like any properly sloshed drunk worth their weight in schnapps, start walking crookedly while believing their perfectly toeing a straight line.

In 2011, it was revealed during a Reddit AMA with a former walker that, for two days of work, she earned around $600 and then received an unexpected bonus check at the end of the year. Suffice it to say there's a bit of a gap there and not all walkers are created equal, but let's be real: no one's making a career out of eating Dale.

While eating meals in between shooting, all the extras playing walkers dine together in a separate area, away from the human survivors and rest of the crew. This is mostly to create a sense of distinction between the two sides that will overflow on set, but it also makes meals a little more enjoyable for the likes of Andrew Lincoln and Steven Yen when they don't have to see the soda traveling down someone's throat.

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This inconsistency was created after original showrunner Frank Marabout was fired midway through the show's second season. All that moaning, grunting, hissing, and whatever other foul-sounding racket comes of their decayed mouths makes for one terrifying impression and is enough to haunt anyone's dreams.

Which means when all those horrifying scenes are actually being shot, the extras playing the walkers are told to be as silent as inhumanly possible. So next time you wake up in a cold sweat from a Walker hissing in your ear, just imagine a bunch of people in zombie make-up stumbling around like drunkards trying being as quiet as can be.

One thing you'll almost never hear amidst all the flesh eating and mindless moaning taking place on The Walking Dead is the word “zombie.” According to comic creator Robert Kirkman, in the world of TWD, the works of George A. Romero were never made and the term “zombies” don't exist in fiction. Meaning The Walking Dead takes place in an alternate universe to our own where no one ever had to endure the ridiculous ending of I Am Legend.

Other than Glenn referring to the video game Portal (which is part of the Half-Life world containing head crab zombies) in season 2, there never been any allusions to the Z-Word in the TV series. But maybe he was just referring to all modern uses of the term being nonexistent, since the concept dates back to West African folklore where a “zombie” was a dead body reanimated by magic.

This effect not only helps depict the passage of time, but it gives the makeup artists a good excuse to create some truly disgusting looks. This technique was inspired by the comics, where artist Charlie Ad lard would draw the undead progressively more rotted from one book to the next.

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Reflecting on his earlier pitch to Image, the writer has said he never had any intention of using an alien plot, other than as a means to sell his project. Everyone who signed off on the deal at they naively thought the zombies were just paving the way for an outer space invasion that Kirkman would drop hints about along the way.

When editors said they were having a hard time finding these alien Easter eggs, Kirkman let the dead cat out of the bag and told them there were never any, and they'd just have to settle for millions of dollars in revenue and a hit TV show. There have been a few attempts to expand upon these fun theoretical with one Reddit user concluding at the time of Rick's awakening there were 6.99 billion walkers roaming about.

Taking this one step further Source Fed released a video updating the numbers, showing that as of the last season there are only 382,885 people left alive on Earth. Within seconds, they all start sniffing their palms, picking up clues about you from the chemical traces left over from the handshakes.

Sniffing palms after a handshake, usually within 30 seconds of the interaction, would likely help people learn about someone’s health and genetic compatibility, according to a 2015 study by researchers in Israel. Our animal ancestors used their noses way more than we do in modern society, says Jessica Fraser, a neuroscientist at RWTH Aachen University, in Germany, and the author of several studies on the human sense of smell.

In fact, humans detected certain scents at lower concentrations than the notoriously top-notch nostrils of mice and pigs. These include aromas produced by plants, a logical evolutionary advantage for our ancestors seeking fruits.

If you were assaulted by a stranger you didn’t get a good look at, could you identify the person by smell in a police lineup? Other students then watched a video of an actual assault by a man on a woman (to stir them emotionally), while sniffing a scent they were told was that of the suspect.

In 2015, scientists from the University of Düsseldorf identified unsaturated, or hydroxylated, branched fatty acids as the “olfactory most dominant,” or stinkiest. In one of Fraser’s experiments published in 2015 in the journal Chemical Senses, researchers obtained sweat from 16 men.

As a control, the men took the math test again under no time constraint and were told they got an average score. Volunteers sniffed the men’s sweat samples while taking a test that measures cognitive performance.

When sniffing the sweat of the men told they scored below average, the volunteers were distracted and slower to respond during their own test. When sniffing the sweat from the men’s second workout, the volunteers scored in a manner indicating emotional neutrality.

Say you go out to meet a friend who had been watching funny videos on her mobile phone, making her feel happy. An fMRI brain scan of a volunteer sniffing the sweat of a parachute jumper shows high activity, in yellow, in the left amygdala.

In fMRI scans, people sniffing the sweat from first-time parachute jumpers lit up the brain’s left amygdala, where basic emotions are processed, suggesting fear is contagious, too. The health and biological compatibility of the opposite sex might also be gleaned, all the better to help pick the perfect mate.

Scientists have long known that animals such as mice and rats can tell how genetically related they are to others of their species by smelling one another’s urine. A study by researchers from McGill University in Canada involving neuroimaging, which creates pictures of the brain’s structure and neural activity, showed that smelling the body odor of someone closely related activates the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain responsible for recognizing family.

If the participants smelled spicy and floral notes, the women appeared four pounds slimmer. In 2013, scientists from Germany, Canada and Sweden took fMRI scans of 30 women while they sniffed the cotton undershirts of newborns.

The new moms’ thalamus lit up more than that of women without kids, suggesting the mothers’ increased attention. All the women showed activity in the brain’s negotiate areas, where the reward system lies.

Although only women were tested in that particular study, Angstrom suspects that similar results would be found in men. Angstrom and his colleagues have some chemicals under the microscope (figuratively and literally), and are even researching whether the newborn smell could be used to treat depression.

The team is also investigating whether women who suffer postpartum depression lack receptors for newborn scent molecules or don’t receive the reward signals from the baby smell. Similar to our ability to winnow out incompatible mates by scent, new moms can distinguish their biological babies by sniffing them.

Among families in Wales interviewed for a government-funded study on failed adoptions, several parents mentioned that the distinctive body odor of their child had a negative impact on the relationship.

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3 en.wikipedia.org - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Daugherty_discography
4 www.sparknotes.com - https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/warandpeace/summary/
5 www.billholabmusic.com - https://www.billholabmusic.com/composers/michael-daugherty/michael-daugherty-works/
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