Making A Scene: ‘3 Body Problem’ Cast and Crew Break Down the ‘Severance’ Influence, Epic ‘Bugs’ Reveal and What’s Next for the Series

When series creators David Benioff, D.B. Weiss and Alexander Woo first crafted the moment Jin Cheng (Jess Hong) and Thomas Wade (Liam Cunningham) enter the game in “3 Body Problem,” they made it so they “would put on the headset and then there’ll be a moment of black and then they go into the game.” But when they saw the scene cut together, they felt there was “something missing.” So for inspiration, they reached to another popular sci-fi series for inspiration: “Severance.”

“We’re actually influenced by ‘Severance’ in the elevator scenes, you know where they have that kind of weird camera effect,” said writer and co-creator Benioff. “We looked up how they did that. Ours was like, ‘What if their eyes merged together and then came apart again.'”

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As part of Variety‘s “Making a Scene” Cunningham, Hong, Benioff, Weiss and Woo were joined by “3 Body Problem” visual effects producer Steve Kullback and co-director Minkie Spiro to discuss how they brought the extraterrestrial thriller to life.

One of the biggest challenges for Kullback was the reflective headgear used to enter “3 Body Problem’s” virtual world. While shooting with the headsets, “literally everything is reflected,” according to director Spiro. “The camera, the boom and the crew.”

According to Kullback, he and his team shot “a tiled image of every square inch” of the sets to create “a photograph” that could be “reprojected on top of the headset, in the place of all of the crew members and camera gear that appears in the environment.”

“I asked, ‘It couldn’t be mate black, wouldn’t that be just as cool?’ But no, they said, ‘It has to be chrome.'” Kullback said. “I do admit — now that it’s done — it looks pretty bitchen.”

Another challenge for the crew was pulling off the “you are bugs” sequence. Benioff thought the moment worked great to usher in the alien threat, but he could not help but think “you are bugs” sounded “a little bit like something a second grader would say as an insult.”

“I remember we talked about like, ‘Could they do something to the moon? Is there something absolutely insane that they could do to prove that they exist and that they’re so much superior to us?'” Benioff said. “We settled on the eye.”

To announce the interstellar invaders, a giant eyeball is projected into the sky. This comes in conjunction with the message “you are bugs” streamed to computer screens across the globe.

“We were all asking Steve like, ‘How big is it? Where is it?’ He’s like, ‘We haven’t figured that out,'” Hong recalled. “‘Just look up and be amazed. It’s over there.’ Like, okay, cool. I think it all read at the end, though.”

Although plans are still fluid for the future of “3 Body Problem,” Benioff and his team feel confident they can get the story to where they want it to be by the series’ end.

“Ultimately it’s the number of hours you need and we’re getting them. We know how many hours we need in order to get to the end. And it’s significant. But we have them so we feel good about it,” Benioff said.

Watch the full conversation above.

Variety’s “Making a Scene” is presented by HBO.

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