In the special, Ramsey expressed a great appreciation for being able to work with a real giraffe in a safe, set environment, stating: “Giraffes are pretty massive! It’s like a spiritual experience, almost, being so close to such a magnificent animal.”
Whenever possible, showrunners Craig Mazin and Neil Druckmann preferred to make use of physical sets and practical effects, such as the faithful recreation of the Jackson commune seen in episode 6, or the thrilling run-ins with the clickers in episode 2. Of course, there’s always a level of unpredictability working with live animals, so making the giraffe scene happen required a little help from the VFX teams. The behind-the-scenes special showed the cast and crew interacting with the live giraffe’s head peeking out from a set of blue screen walls.
“The Last of Us” was shot over the course of a year, mostly in Canada (something the creators want to stray away from in season 2, with all respect to Canada). During the “Making of The Last of Us,” production designer John Paino shared how they worked around a giraffe enclosure to build the set:
“Fortunately the one thing Alberta does have is a zoo with giraffes, and we spent quite a while putting things in the enclosure so that we could shoot it, and getting the giraffes acclimated to panels with blue screen, so that we could just go in there and shoot the giraffe and have Ellie feed the giraffe.”