The Last of Us: How the magical giraffe scene was created

One of the most iconic scenes from “The Last of Us” video game was also spectacularly realized in the final episode of Season 1 of the series. A real giraffe gave goosebumps on the set.

  • With its faithfulness to the original, “The Last of Us” stands out from other series and video game adaptations.
  • In the last episode of Season 1, one scene in particular gave us goosebumps.
  • Even more amazing is just the process of how the giraffe scene in “The Last of Us” was filmed.
The Last of Us: How the magical giraffe scene was created

The final episode of Season 1’s “The Last of Us” concludes Joel and Ellie’s journey to Salt Lake City. Shortly after their arrival in the half-destroyed city, the two companions enter a ruin where something incredible is waiting.

Through an opening, the two see a giraffe reaching out for greenery growing on a wall. Quickly, Joel and Ellie find a connection with this majestic animal and feed it while marveling at it in all its glory. It’s a magical scene that, amidst all the horror of this dystopian world, shows that there is still beauty and peace.

Shooting with a real animal was challenging but more than worth it

It is all the more remarkable that the series creators had a real giraffe on set for this scene, which comes directly from the video game template! To keep the scene as close to the video game original as possible, a mix of VFX environmental effects, a VFX stage, and footage with a live, adult giraffe from the Calagary Zoo in Canada was used.

Production designer John Paino said that a CGI giraffe had been considered, but it would have taken more time, which the team didn’t have. So they shot with a real animal and a very small film crew so as not to scare it away.

Through a balcony, Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey were able to feed the giraffe, while at the other end of the gate, trainers watched and made sure that the giraffe ate from Joel and Ellie. The most complicated shoot of the entire series, according to Paino, but one that was clearly worth it, as the fantastic and iconic scene from the 2013 video game was captured perfectly.

For example, the entire set for the scene looks exactly like it did in the video game, which adds to the overall distinctiveness. Even some of the cuts in the scene are set in the same places as in the game. Another stroke of genius by Neil Druckmann and his team to present this scene to fans exactly as they know it from the video game, and to amaze new viewers with it.

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