Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Behind the Helmets: A Daft Punk Documentary

Daft Punk is the futuristic electronic music group who are most widely recognized by their use of bright and shining helmets. As people jam to their hits such as 'Get Lucky' and "Instant Crush'" they are often left asking themselves the question - "Why the Helmets?" A UK Electronic Dance Music (EDM) magazine set out to give listeners a little insight on the duo's infamous helmets in the short yet detailed documentary called "Behind the Helmets."

The world may know them for their unmistakable, LED headwear, but the story behind their intricate helmets is anything but simple. The documentaries begins by pointing out that before Daft Punk disguised themselves with illuminating helmets, they were two normal French singers just looking to make dance music. Yet, as their popularity began to grow, they wanted to evolve with their music, not emotionally, but physically.

To seek an identity for their music, they reached out to Grammy award winning music video directors, Alex and Martin, who contributed several phenomenal design ideas. To fulfill their overall vision they decided to team up with special effects extraordinaire, Tony Gardner. Garder revealed in the documentary they wanted to hide behind the helmets so it would be about the music, not the people.

Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter, the men behind the Daft Punk masks, shared a favorite film with Gardner - The Day The Earth Stood Still. This quickly began the key inspiration for the helmets. The challenge was incorporating a linear readout and eliminating the 'human' aspect of the performance. To help overcome the challenges they faced with various renderings, they took on the help of the men who did the metalizing for the NASA space suits as well as the man who built the jumbotron!

Thomas Gardner and the duo began coming up with several different prototypes before settling on the main design. Upon realizing the helmets were going to require a lot of wires for linear reading, they came up with the brilliant idea of their entire wardrobe being highlighted with various live wires which would be used as piping so while performing on a dark stage, they would read as a lit up silhouette!

After ditching a prototype with hair and one with a slight grin, the final product was a complex robot helmet which boasted an array of impressive LED displays. The epic design perfectly mirrored their high-tech sound. They were thrilled to have finally fulfilled their fantasies. Gardner was pleased with the result but stated it would have gone much differently if built today due to their lack of supplies when the headware was originally built.

As viewers watch "Behind The Helmets" they get to watch the evolution of the helmets evolve to what it is now. Those who are still curious about the men behind those snazzy helmets will take much intriguement in other Daft Punk documentaries such as the "Daft Punk Documentary" by DB films as well as the video by The Creators Project on the collaborators behind Daft Punk's hit album, Random Access Memories.