As a visual artist who also makes beats in the anonymity of my bedroom, I’ve always wondered how Daft Punk managed to craft not only their music, but their visual presence. A masterpiece unto itself, the Daft Punk helmets transform two anonymous musicians into otherworldly beings. Arbiters of funk and electro. Ambassadors of sound. Gods of the synthesizer. You get it. The helmets allow the musicians to detach themselves from reality and bring the audience into their universe. It leaves the musician in mystery, and until today, the genesis of the helmets was a mystery to me too.
In a tweet thread by @daft_wub, you can see the whole process from sketch to final, including electrical schematics and initial sculpts of the helmets. They also show the complex wiring that was required to power the matrix of LEDs, as well as behind-the-scenes images from Daft Punk’s very first photo shoot.
The thread also credits the companies involved: Alterian Inc., which did work on the first version of the helmets, and Ironhead Studios, which worked on the latest and slimmest versions of our favorite funk bots. Both studios have experience in film; Ironhead Studios in particular has worked with Marvel on live-action costumes for characters such as Spider-Man, Black Panther, Thanos, and more.
These images aren’t new; the tweet thread is simply recirculating them, but this is great for fans like me who’ve never really seen the process. If you want to learn more, I suggest reading this article by Piers Martin, based on an extensive 2000 interview of the duo originally conducted for The Face. You can even read a full annotated transcript.
And for bonus material, check out this video with Alterian SFX Designer Tony Gardner exploring various iterations of the suits.