Left 5 Dead

Posted: 27th March 2009 by Anthony van Winkle
Categories: Behind-the-Scenes Photos

On producing the photographic parody of Valve’s excellent zombie game “Left 4 Dead”

Last month the Night Zero team took some time away from the zombie photographic comic book (check it out if you haven’t yet, here’s the first page!)–and produced a special homage to a new zombie video game, “Left 4 Dead“. Produced by the incredible team at Valve, the folks responsible for Half-Life, Counterstrike, Team Fortress, and Portal, this newest team-based shooter pits four survivors against hordes of the undead, in what is possibly the most brilliant execution of a zombie apocalypse game to date.

Unlike most modern games, where players can create their characters from a wide range of bodies, clothings, faces, and personalities, in Left 4 Dead there are only (and always the same) four survivors. This unusual design choice creates a unique play experience, as all players around the world become intimately familiar with these four characters—their voices, their mannerisms, they way they laugh and they way they panic. By forcing the millions of gamers to live as these four survivors, Valve has created a set of universal heroes, instantly recognizable to anyone who’s sat down with Left 4 Dead. Heroes that the team of Night Zero would sit down with as well, in our own special way.

Thanks to the wide networks of the Night Zero production team, getting a cast together that resembled the four characters was challenging but successful. Each of the survivors is very idiosyncratic and different, but none is beyond the everyday person, so pulling together costumes and props was no more difficult than any other Night Zero shoot. For a location with a range of backdrops and settings, we returned to the warehouse where the middle of Episode One was shot, and to match the game’s selection, we pulled together all the weaponry we could get our hands on.

If you’re not familiar with Left 4 Dead, I encourage you to first watch the opening cinematic, a delightful zombie flick in its own right, and a flawless introduction to every character and game element that makes Left 4 Dead so wonderful. Then, click on the image below to visit the Flickr gallery with our first batch of “fan art” photos.


These ten photos are just the first round, so keep your eyes out for another set in the next few weeks. Of course, this wouldn’t be a proper blog post without some behind the scenes photos, and boy have we got some great ones. Enjoy!

The greenroom, where guns and zombies and snacks collide

The greenroom, where guns and zombies and snacks collide

Francis getting psyched up

Francis getting psyched up

The witch getting her nails done

The witch getting her nails done

Zoey and Bill meet the witch

Zoey and Bill meet the witch

See how the hunter flies through the air...

See how the hunter flies through the air...

...with a little help from the crew.

...with a little help from the crew.

Even zombies need to a shoulder to lean on.

Even zombies need to a shoulder to lean on.

Startling the witch

Startling the witch

Heading to the roof, where a safe room is being setup

Heading to the roof, where a safe room is being setup

Forest and Eli frame the shot

Forest and Eli frame the shot

Like our stuff? Be sure to check out our post-apocalyptic zombie comic, done in the same style!

UPDATE: More behind-the-scenes info and photos are available on our second Left 5 Dead blog post.

  1. ry says:

    good behind the scene.. it worth.. give us more real picture behind the scene and the real people of the survivors

  2. Zombie Aaron says:

    This is probably the single most significant cinematic event in my life. The casting looks incredible, although the 5th survivor will have to overcome a large barrier to gain the acceptance of Left 4 Dead fans. The witch scene looks amazing, I can’t wait.

  3. Eric says:

    Hey,
    Great to meet you guys yesterday at Comicon. I am the friend of Gale and Ben who is doing the lighting for Star Trek Phoenix.
    Absolutely fantastic looking material both the L4D and of course the book.
    Keep up the great work

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  7. Rampant Dreamer says:

    You’ve got some good potential here. But there is stuff you need to work on. Having achieved Zombie Genocidist, I can say the following with complete confidence:

    The zombies are not pale enough.

    The Witch’s eyes glow yellow, not red.

    Louis and Bill are the only survivors who match their game counterparts. Nice try with Zoey, but Francis is downright atrocious.

    The hunter’s hoodie is dark grey, not blue. And he has duct tape around his sleeves and pant legs.

    Get that frickin’ pirate out of the pictures. I don’t care if it’s your ‘gimmick’… get him out, get him out, get him out. Any picture with him in it could be improved by using MS Paint to color over him with white.

    Good luck with the Smoker, Boomer, and Tank, heh…

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  13. Shanna says:

    Love what you guys are doing with the comic, & this tribute to Left4Dead is just amazing. Thanks for giving all of us zombie fans out here something awesome to look forward to each week!

  14. aleshamder says:

    please, forget the fifth survivor, he looks like an idiot…

  15. I must agree mostly with Rampant Dreamer, in that Francis doesn’t look like Francis. I expect you can’t make everything perfect because you don’t have a giant budget. However, Louis (I always play him) is bald or shaven clean on top, you’re Louis has hair. Shave him awake or in his sleep, you’re choice. Outside the small inconsistencies it looks great thus far. I really do recommend your actors to study not only the Left 4 Dead intro clip but youtube.com Left 4 Dead videos as well, a great source of mannerisms and subtle leavings of attitude. Once you master that, you could like like Bill Clinton and pull off Zoey (but don’t do that :D ). I’m working on three hundred hours of play so I have a idea of what all the characters look like and act.

  16. Fignuts says:

    Seriously, the pirate needs to go. Not cool.

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  19. dx13 says:

    I like what you did with the casting. But Francis looks fat and a lot less tougher. He needs more tattoos and add the biker glove to give more detail. The actor for Francis looks like pirate guy. Are they related?

    I also love how you produce the atmosphere of the Zombie Apocalypse. But I feel that the survivors need to put a little bit more emotion though. The survivors looks so calm as if the Zombie Apocalypse never happened.

    I lol’d at pirate guy. Although, I do agree that he ruins most of the pictures he’s in. But maybe there’s a reason you put him there besides annoy the hell out of people. Maybe he’s the one who’ll become insane due to this Zombie Apocalypse ordeal. He’ll try to kill everybody but fail and die the most painful death. From the looks of it, he fits the role of a psychotic maniac. Who the hell dresses like a pirate in the zombie apocalypse?

    Anyways, looking forward to see more of your work on L4D. Good job!

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  21. maryannyee20@yahoo.com says:

    Hey guys! I’m a HUGE fan of Left 4 dead AND an avid comic book reader. If there’s anything that makes me happy in this world it’s the creepy eerie things in life. Your style of comics look amazing and I’d love to offer any help I can. I love making costumes and I made a witch costume for SDCC that I’d love for you to check out. This is my Myspace account link.

    http://www.myspace.com/lesliemaryann

    I’m private but if you have a profile i’ll add you in a SECOND! Maybe I could help do something for the comic

  22. John says:

    Really cool idea! I just read over your comic, Night Zero and it is incredible as well. Can’t wait to see the finished product of Left 5 Dead. As far as your cast, they look great IMHO. The pirate guy seems a little strange but we are talking zombie apocalypse here. Nothing can be more weird than that, so Arr Matey!

    For all the people with complaints, keep in mind this is getting done at all. I personally appreciate the efforts put into this project. You all have the right to take a little poetic license so go ahead. I, for one, will happily pay for a copy of the finished comic

  23. mau says:

    es el juego mas chido de zombies que e visto y jugado chido sigan asi