In returning to the genre he helped define, Ridley Scott continues to push the boundaries of storytelling, both visually and thematically. As he notes, he’s all about the “everything” – from story structure to casting, from sets and costumes to new ways of telling a story. And while the renowned filmmaker is scaring the hell out of you, he never loses sight of the big picture. “After you’ve seen Prometheus,” Scott concludes, “you will have experienced something completely unexpected.”
In parallel to the film’s post-viewing experience, the actors likewise have undergone a gratifying filming experience with the helmets developed for the film.
Scott mandated a globe-shaped helmet with no blind spots. Each helmet had nine working video screens, lighting, an oxygen supply run on two fans with battery packs within the backpack. The exterior of the helmet features a fully functioning torch and HD cameras with a transmitter and recorder.
The helmet has 9 working LED screens, all with specially designed graphics, five of them in the globe, and the others in the glass. The graphics have all been designed by the art department to look like official tech. It's the seismic activity of the land.
Then there's LED lighting everywhere. There’s a light in the top. There’s a skull cap, which is wired for sound so they can not only speak, they can hear direction. And most importantly, it’s completely wired up for air because Ridley said that on ALIEN, the panic that would set in after their actors had been in the helmets for more than 30 seconds was immense. Plus there’s all that condensation you get on the globe.
The backpack really functions as a huge battery loader for all the electronics. The editor, Pietro Scalia, decided he wanted to be able to see through the mounted cameras, so they're real HD cameras, which come with big recorders and great big transmitters. But apparently the footage has been great – you can intercut, so that right in the middle of a scene you get little gems: little bits and bobs that a wide camera can't.
Prometheus costume designer Janty Yates shares, “We'll make about 60 of these helmets. We've got so many stunts. It's a constant process of making and mending them. There are so many things that can and do go wrong with the electronics, but even with all the maintenance you have to do I think we must have saved them a fortune, because if it weren't built into the suit they'd have had to create it in post and that would have been so much more difficult.”
“Even a little knock to the helmet could knock out the whole sequence. They're so fragile, but they're just beautiful things. The result of having all these lights in the suit itself is that you end up with the actors bathed in this exquisite lighting. My guys have to get together with Dariusz Wolski, the cinematographer, and figure out what was going to work and where. They strips of light look like inverted halos and they light the faces really exquisitely,” recalls Yates.