The central server outputs signals to another box loaded up with Pixel Mad, a piece of software designed for digital signage. Pixel Mad controls all the LEDs for a given track -- and there's a hefty number of those to keep track of. Data then flows through a router that further breaks the content into separate windows for each tile. We were told that each track has around 15-16 levels of video for motion graphics, so there's a huge amount of data continuously moving from the booth to the stage. The system is controlled by one man in the front of house responsible for linking the graphics to whatever track is currently playing. Interestingly, the entire production was designed by Martin Phillips, who is also responsible for creating the visuals and effects in many a Daft Punk production.
Beyond the current gear in use, we asked Joel about his thoughts on other trends in tech and the music world. First off, Joel is a BlackBerry user, and he cites the physical keyboard as the main reason for sticking with it. He told us that he's interested in other devices, but that the tactile feedback is irreplaceable. One other device he can't live without is an external USB charger to keep his phone charged up all the time. "I can't have my phone dying on me" he explained. We asked about current touchscreen producing and mixing products, and while he believes certain parts of the experience could benefit from the addition, most of it would detract from the performing experience. He likened performing with that to be "more hunched over like checking an email... you have to pay attention to it and only it."
Joel also let us know that he's involved with a new app based on the TouchOSC
open sound controller app, and that he won't stop using gadgets in his performances any time soon. Beyond the music, his gear makes up another sizable portion of the deadmau5 experience and the helmet has become a major symbol in electronic music culture. Obviously, we're looking forward to version 2.0 and to whatever other tricks the mau5 has in store.
And no, you can't buy the helmet.