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Inside Daft Punk's Fan-Made Viral Video

We talked to Matteo Shezmen "Shez" Delli Zotti and Israel James about animating the unofficial music video for "Give Life Back to Music."
March 26, 2015, 9:00pm
Images courtesy of the artists

With glittering tuxedos, a spacefaring turntable, and a bass guitar made of gold, an unofficial music video for Daft Punk's "Give Life Back to Music" has quietly racked up over 200,000 views. The success of the fanmade film is just as unexpected as the story of its origin, a collaboration between 27-year-old Italian animator Matteo Shezmen "Shez" Delli Zotti and 17-year old Australian 3D artist, Israel James. "It was summer 2013 and I was at home sunbathing in my courtyard while studying," explains Shez, who previously created the animated Daft Punk "sitcom," DAFT THOUGHTS. "I had my ear-buds on, the new album in my smartphone, and as soon I pressed 'play' I was completely blown away by the intro of the opening song 'Give Life Back to Music.' It was so epic that, for some reason, I immediately pictured in my mind a spaceship lifting off for a space adventure."

Released last year, "Give Life Back to Music" features Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo drifting through a spaceship in zero gravity and blasting by planet Earth to perform the act of generosity in the song's title. Seamlessly combining 2.5 and 3D animations made in Flash, 3ds Max, Cinema 4D, and After Effects into one five-minute piece, it's a wonder that the music video was actually created via Skype over the course of a few months.


Following his initial inspiration, Shez launched an Indiegogo campaign which was unsuccessful, save for the fact that it caught the attention of Israel James, then only 15 years old.

"We skyped basically every night discussing ideas and concepts for the video and for my 3D work," James tells The Creators Project. "I would usually stay up into the early hours of the morning working on my parts and speaking to Shez." James became so engrossed in the project, in fact, that his high school canceled his enrollment due to low attendance. "School was never my first priority as I was never really good at any of the subjects and had no encouragement from my teachers for the things I was interested in. So when this opportunity came up i gave it 100% to show what I was made of as my teachers always told me I would never amount to anything."

For Shez, it wasn't all smooth sailing, either: "One of the main challenges was to conceptually create and plan the whole space trip presented in the video," he explains. "I can't even recall how many sleepless nights and how much coffee I had… but all I know is that the concept of this video, and this beautiful Daft Punk song, drove me and my partner to complete it in the best way possible."

Shez combined James' 3D-modeled elements, including the spaceship and the interstellar turntable, with his animations and refined plot, and published the final version on March 1, 2014. "Initially the video was a viral hit," Shez explains. Hundreds of thousands of views—and one YouTube takedown—later, the duo found that Giorgio Moroder had adopted it into his live show. "Giorgio had uploaded a photo to his official Facebook fan page of him Djing at Pitchfork Music Festival in USA," says James. "Later on I saw more videos of Giorgio featuring it all over the world Including USA, Ibiza in Spain and even The Sydney Opera House in my own country Australia."

"It was really humbling and really awesome, but he didn't ask for permission and we aren't getting any recognition for our work," James admits to Sunshine Coast Daily. And while neither of them have yet heard anything from the robo-helmeted duo, either, as Shez prepares to launch the final DAFT THOUGHTS episode and write the script for upcoming video game parody, Metal Gear Solid 5, The Phantom Pain, he's stoked: "I don't know if they have seen my videos, but I surely hope that if they did, they cracked some laughs under those helmets!"

Watch Shez and Israel James' "Give Life Back to Music" music video above, and scroll down to see concept art and images behind the project.

For more, check out Shez on Twitter and at Bitter Strike! Cartoons, and visit Israel James' website here.


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