How Squid Game: The Challenge created the tricky Glass Bridge game
Mathieu Weekes and Ben Norman discuss why this was the toughest set to replicate, and how a last-minute change altered how contestants fell.
Most scenes in Netflix’s hit South Korean series Squid Game featured visual effects (VFX). It was filmed using green or blue screen, and CGI.
That’s why Squid Game: The Challenge’s production designer Mathieu Weekes and games designer Ben Norman had a difficult task ahead of them when building the sets for the reality series. Plus, they didn’t actually confer with anyone who worked on the original show.
As the second batch of episodes were released on Netflix yesterday, the remaining contestants were faced with the Glass Bridge challenge, which Weekes and Norman tell us was the trickiest to replicate.
For Squid Game, the actors crossed a makeshift bridge that was one metre off the ground and jumped between tempered glass panels to film the scene.
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The reality show players had a three-metre drop across a 35-metre-long truss bridge on as few legs as possible so it looked like it was floating, concealing as much of the structure as possible.
"We were really strict with the lighting levels and blacking everything out," Weekes tells us. "Even the stairwell to get to the bridge was blacked out, so the contestants had no idea how far up they were, to fully tap into the fear of the unknown as they reached the 'glass' panels to cross."
Norman continued: "We did initially go down the route of seeing if we could do it with glass. But it was a huge battle of safety, and without a shadow of a doubt, you could tell the difference between glass that could hold someone and glass that couldn't. We looked at other options, like using sugar glass, but trapdoors were the final idea."
The trapdoors were made out of two steel frames with solid Perspex tops that looked like glass. If activated, they would split in the middle and the frames would drop on either side.
"Right until the moment they played that game, there were no details of what the exact path was so that nobody could find out. There was no way of cheating it," says Norman.
Now that brings us to the falling aspect... in the drama, unlucky guessers would drop to their death, but here, a decision was made close to the gameplay that there would be no falling at all.
Although Norman initially created the game for players to fall through, and they were briefed by the production team and stunt coordinators that they would be falling and how to do so, Netflix explains that their "falls" were visual effects instead to guarantee the safety of the players.
Weekes says: "VFX came in to make it seem as invisible as possible where our world ended and their world began."
An airbag was also placed under the bridge as an extra precaution. In addition, multiple stunt teams tested the game repeatedly until they were happy with all of the systems that had been put in place.
The first nine episodes of Squid Game: The Challenge are available to stream on Netflix now. The 10th, and final, episode is available on Wednesday 6th December. Sign up for Netflix from £6.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.
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