Home Virtual Reality 3 Body Problem’s Otherworldly VR Helmets Posed Some Unique Challenges on Set

3 Body Problem’s Otherworldly VR Helmets Posed Some Unique Challenges on Set

Wade (Liam Cunningham) stares at his reflection in a VR helmet on 3 Body Problem.
Image: Netflix

One of 3 Body Problem’s earliest mysteries comes wrapped in a sleek, shiny package: the seemingly not-of-this-world VR helmets that Jin (Jess Hong) and Jack (John Bradley) are given—and that transport them into an eerily lifelike environment they assume at first is a next-level immersive video game.

If you haven’t yet watched the Netflix series, we won’t get into too many plot details here—but it’s not a spoiler to say the helmets allow Jin, Jess, and other characters to visit surreal landscapes and experience fantastical scenarios that are equal parts dazzling and frightening. (It also allows the narrative to introduce the titular cosmic problem into things.) For the actors—who got to physically visit the virtual world, at least partially, thanks to 3 Body Problem’s set design team—actually wrangling the helmet prop posed some unique challenges.

Speaking to Polygon, Hong recalled that the helmet yanked her hair every time her character took it on or off. Liam Cunningham—who plays Wade, an intelligence operative very keen to get his hands on the mysterious tech—said the space-age reflective material the helmets were made of was also a pain in its own way. “It’s an absolute nightmare to film, because I swing it around, and I’ve got it all over the place—there was no way of keeping the camera out of the reflection,” he recalled.

Fortunately, 3 Body Problem’s VFX team was able to help with that aspect, removing any equipment that accidentally came in for a close-up. But Bradley reported the oddest interaction with the helmet, telling Polygon that wearing it was “really weird and really isolating” even while on set surrounded by the show’s crew. “It’s a bit like sometimes when you’re lying in bed and you start to hear a clock tick and you can’t hear anything else,” he said. Even though donning the helmet in real life doesn’t instantly whisk you into a strange environment like it does in the show, “you start to see yourself the way the world sees you. And you don’t always like what you find.”

3 Body Problem is now streaming on Netflix.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.



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