Tron Legacy & Daft Punk Helmet Lighting Designer’s SOLElites Custom Shoes

August 30th, 2012 Update: A.J. Catalano is offering these SOLElites at a discounted price for a limited time. Be sure to let him know you found them on

If given the chance most people that recently saw Disney’s TRON Legacy in 3D at IMAX theaters around the world would jump at the opportunity to experience the digital world of The Grid. Light Cycles, identity discs, lighted battle armor, Light Jets. How far down the line are we from seeing TRON like outfits used for daily wear? Or of some useful functionality? It may be sooner than you think. The lighting effects and electronic function designer for the helmets used in TRON Legacy, A.J. Catalano has created an offering of custom light up shoes called “SOLElites”.

The SOLElites are $475 prices have been raised to $825 with your choice of color Converse All Star Chuck Taylor’s, or you can provide your own shoes if they have a proper flat sole. They ARE bright, with with option for a constant on or flash as you walk settings.  A.J. worked with Ironhead Studios to create the helmets worn by all the TRON characters as well as those worn in the movie by electronic music duo Daft Punk. Checkout a quick interview with A.J. below as well as the “SOLELites” videos.

“As seen in this promotional image the character “CLU” (in orange) was a particularly high tech costume piece. If you notice the triangle window on the face above the orange “V”. This was the only open space used for viewing which held a miniature color camera which transmitted via cable to small video monitor glasses worn by the actor inside the helmet. This, with the array of lights, ventilation fans and regulated battery power supply proved challenging to fit comfortably inside the limited space. All helmets lighting operate on remote radio control.”

How long have you been making props, prototypes, and artwork for? And what was one of your first ideas/projects that got you into this field?

I’ve been making “things” since I was a kid. I taught myself electricity/electronics at a young age figuring out how to make a flashlight bulb work with a battery first from a book and them moving on to 110 volt Xmas light bulbs with house current (yes I got shocked a few times and blew a few fuses in mom’s house. Ass whipping ensued shortly after). I built my first light sequencing circuit at about 11 years old from parts I shoplifted from Radio Shack at the time. (I do not condone shoplifting )And it’s been ongoing upward since then, mostly legal.

What was it like seeing something you worked on on the big screen and in 3D no less? Was this the first time you worked on something for a big movie?

Well I have gotten a screen credit about 10 years ago as Prop Designer on the film “Demon Under Glass” but it never went to “the” big screen, I mean we saw the final cut on a large projected screen back then. That tickled me to see my stuff then. But TRON is my first major motion picture and it’s weird, but I don’t think it’s sunk in yet… I mean, I didn’t cry or anything, hahaha. My stuff was throughout the film. And plus I think I got larger charges when I was seeing other films months ago and I saw previews of the movie in theaters. So by the time this came out I guess you can say it wasn’t so much of a jolt…I think. Maybe one day I’ll do hypno-therapy to recall the experience. When I do I’ll answer you again.

From your description the setup of just the TRON helmets still seems rather impractical for everyday use. How far away do you think the general public is from having something like that be common place, fully functional or for purpose?

Depends on the need, or purpose. If some manufacturer decides to put out a Tron like helmet that has a heads up display inside and shields you completely from the outside world, allows you to watch entertainment, communicate with friends, surf the internet, while you’re walking down the street or sitting on the bus without putting your head down and the consumer market buys it then it might be sooner than later. We’ve been slowly trying to improve this idea for a while now, it started with fashion sunglasses and earphones, now we have video monitor sunglasses with earphones built in. We used this in fact for CLU’s helmet which was solid fiberglass with only a small triangular opening on the forehead which held a small camera which My team and I installed. The problem with that was, as I tested this helmet, I could only see on my eyeglass monitors a small square window. I could not see to my sides or lower periphery. I told them it would be dangerous for the actor to walk in this but luckily the actor only had to sit in one spot or stand. Other scenes on the light cycle were CG.

People may not be able to order the TRON helmets but where can they order a pair of your custom SOLElites?

Price is high but they are all hand made and use the same lights as Ironman chests at a cost of $120 per pair for just the lights. Plus you’ll be the coolest kid on the block, or the club since no one else will have these jewels! btw – just got caught yesterday in the hugest rain of the year here is CA and they were immersed in water during lunch time and still work with no problem.

TRON helmet images moved by request

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