If you’re a fan of The Beatles and have Disney+, you absolutely need to set aside some time to watch Peter Jackson’s The Beatles: Get Back original docuseries later this week when it starts streaming. Originally filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg back in January 1969, the footage is an incredible behind-the-scenes look at one of the biggest bands of all time trying to write new songs under a tight deadline. In addition, it’s the very first time The Beatles’ last live performance as a group, the rooftop concert on London’s Savile Row, has been shown in its entirety. As a lifelong fan of the band, I was mesmerized watching John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr’s creative process and the way they interacted with one another in the studio.
If you’re not aware, the band originally allowed Lindsay-Hogg and his documentary crew to record them with the understanding the footage would be used for a TV special. The crew recorded for 21 days and ended up with sixty hours of footage and more than 150 hours of unheard audio. Eventually some of the footage was released as the documentary, Let It Be, back in 1970, but the majority of the footage has been locked away in a vault for over fifty years.
But after Apple’s CEO Jeff Jones and director of production Jonathan Clyde saw Jackson’s pioneering restoration work on the 2018 World War I documentary They Shall Not Grow Old, they reached out asking if he would be interested in doing something similar with The Beatles footage. Cut to a few years later and we have The Beatles: Get Back.
With the three-part series streaming November 25, 26, and 27, a few days ago I spoke to Jackson about making the incredible docuseries. During the interview, he revealed the technology that was invented to demix the originally mono recording so you could hear what the band was saying without any music, how The Beatles deliberately tried to drown out the audio when they were discussing certain subjects, how the film ended up being close to eight hours when they originally were going to make a two something hour feature film, and so much more.
Finally, with Jackson being a huge fan of the band, he told me that every time he saw something in the raw footage that he thought was cool, he made sure to add it in to make sure it didn’t disappear in the vault for another fifty years. Like I said, if you are a fan of The Beatles, you are going to be blown away by what Jackson and his brilliant team has done with this footage and film.
Watch what he had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.
The challenges of using the audio from the ‘60s and how it was originally recorded on a nagra tape recorder in mono.
How they investigated the technology called demixing which allows a mono track to be split up into their individual tracks.
How he had some people in New Zealand develop machine learning which allowed them to really get into the audio channels.
How The Beatles deliberately tried to drown out the audio when they were discussing certain subjects, but with the machine learning the editors could get past that.
Does he have a two hour version of the film for a more casual fan?
How once COVID happened and the release date got pushed he decided to make the movie he wanted to make without talking to Disney or The Beatles which resulted in the current cut of the film which is close to eight hours.
How every time he saw something in the footage that he thought was cool and the fans would love he put it in the movie to make sure it didn’t disappear in the vault for another fifty years.
Does he have a longer version of the documentary than what is being released?
How each day of filming back in 1969 usually resulted in three to four hours of raw video footage and up to eight hours of audio.
How his first cut was eighteen hours long and then they started to edit it down.
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