Controlling hundreds of color-changing leds

I am stumped. I have no clue of how I would do this. I am creating a daft punk mask and I would love to have actual leds inside of it but I don’t know how I would be able to control all of them. (I also want it to be cheap)

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A few options. Use heaps of RGB LEDs, wire them in a matrix, add a good handful of shift registers and multiplex the whole shebang. Probably cheapest, but also definitely the hardest. Use a lot of individually addressable LEDs such as the popular WS2812B ones. Use a ready made LCD display of appropriate size. In all cases, depending on how elaborate you want to animate the thing, you probably have to look into more capable hardware such as the Teensy, ESP32 or even RPi. A common ATmega328 based Arduino won't do.

A raspberry pi for a wearable device is probably a bad idea, you can’t just turn those things on and off you know.

A flexible strip of WS2812B LEDs is the best option, with a Teensy 3.2 controlling it.

Grumpy_Mike: A raspberry pi for a wearable device is probably a bad idea, you can’t just turn those things on and off you know.

Ah, of course, good point.

The intelligent RGB strips have a limited clock frequency. I don't see why an Arduino should not be capable of transmitting the color information. Let it set up the data lines for each strip, then apply a clock pulse to all strips at once. This way a single 8 bit 16MHz AVR can program 6 to 3*6 strips at the maximum strip clock rate. The magic "6" here reflects the available port pins of the typical 328 controller. No use for a controller that is so much faster than the LED strips are.

All of your suggestions are great! I believe I am going to be using a lot of shift registers. It would be great to use the WS2812B LEDs but I dont think that I would be able to see through them though.

https://www.sparkfun.com/search/results?term=ws2812b Maybe thru hole RGB LEDs, wire them up in series like the SMD parts, but you can spread them out a little so you can see around them. Scroll down a little on this page.