Yes, there were digital images in that scene from the last episode of The Last of Us, but not as you would expect
Warning: This article contains spoilers for the final episode of The Last of Us season 1.
In perhaps not-so-traditional The Last of Us news: that giraffe that appeared in the final episode of Season 1 is real, and its name is Nabu.
The HBO series based on the popular video game throughout its first season used a mixture of computer-generated imagery and practical effects, and the scene in which Jules (Pedro Pascal) and Eli (Bella Ramsey) encounter a giraffe shortly before arriving at Fireflies Hospital is no exception. During the HBO Max documentary Making of The Last of Us (according to Total Film), it is revealed that Pascal and Ramsay’s co-star in the scene was indeed Naboo, while VFX later filled in their surroundings.
“Giraffes are so huge,” Bella said in the documentary. “It was like a spiritual experience, being so close to such a majestic animal.”
“Shooting the scene with Naboo the giraffe was one of my favorite experiences. You can make a giraffe with visual effects, but it’s not just the same,” said set director Matt Palmer for the episode.
However, that hasn’t stopped some on social media from mocking the digital image of a giraffe (we mean the very real giraffe). On the other hand, this also does not mean that using a real animal was the easy way out. In a detailed interview with VarietyProduction designer John Pino said they needed several keepers and trainers to make sure the giraffe was comfortable around the green screens and the actors.
“The trainers made her eat from a stranger’s hand,” he said. “So when Ellie and Joel approach her, the giraffe eats those branches.”
For more on the ninth and final episode of The Last of Us, read our spoiler-filled review. And how the last episode of the series doubled the number of views compared to the first episode.