Music supervisor Giles Martin tells IndieWire how machine learning software helped him extract power and energy from Beatles performances without sounding dated.
“Get Back” musical director Giles Martin sees a wonderful irony in the Beatles’ final live performance: one of the last songs the band played on the roof of Apple Corps headquarters is also one of the first collaborations between John Lennon and Paul McCartney. ‘One After 909’, a bluesy American tribute to freight trains, embodied the spirit and energy of The Beatles, who had come full circle after 21 chaotic days of writing, rehearsing and recording a new series. of songs in front of director Lindsay Hogg. documentary cameras. These scrapped sessions would later be consolidated as the band’s swan song, “Let It Be”, but not before the making of their final magnum opus, “Abbey Road”.
The desperate rise of Apple’s rooftop music unit sealed Peter Jackson’s narrative across the line for his Hogg Image Processing miniseries. “Peter and I talked about not making it too bright,” Martin told IndieWire. “We had the opportunity to be in the bedroom with them or on the roof with them. Let’s make you feel like you’re right there in front of them. And when you look at the roof, that’s what you feel.
While mixing the 50th anniversary box set edition of “Let It Be”, Martin – the son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin – detected a different energy from the rooftop performance, of which only “One After 909″, ” I’ve Got a Feeling” and “Dig a Pony” made the original tracklist. “In a funny way, [Jackson’s glimpse through The Beatles looking glass] was trying to make it as real as possible without the technology getting in the way,” Martin added. “As soon as you hear technology, it ages performance.”
Apple Corps Ltd.
Technology, however, was key for Martin to make The Beatles’ performances crisp and powerful without compromising their raw spontaneity. Using Jackson’s crack restoration team, they applied machine learning software to extract the music from the rest of the audio, which proved the most difficult with the initial “Get Back” rehearsals. . Shot on Nagra film at Twickenham Studios, this footage contained mono audio of conversations, crew sounds and performances; when production moved to the band’s Apple studio (and, eventually, to its rooftop), audio was recorded separately on multitrack tape recorders.
“It was about tone and telling the story and having the right balance,” Martin said. “There was more audio than video footage, and there are some bits that are out of sync with the footage. But we were trying to be as honest as possible. The key element of the creative process in “Get Back ” was that you try to capture beauty and honesty.
Martin is still working with Jackson’s restoration team on machine learning and finds it extraordinary. There might even be a place in his future remix of the Beatles catalog (“Rubber Soul” and “Revolver” are particularly complex in terms of separating the tracks). “It’s basically about extraction – to teach the machine to find a voice from a guitar and separate those two elements,” he added. “And that freed us up in things at the end, especially the breadth and quality of the mix once you walk into a movie theater [for the recent IMAX release of the rooftop performance] when everything is amplified, including the frailties of the audio.
Apple Corps Ltd.
The biggest reveal was the IMAX screening, which makes the concert better than in person. “It’s because of the power we can get,” Martin said. “They played hard. The Beatles were not a soft band. It’s almost like my job is to convey the reality, the impact of what it was like to play live and get closer to them. It’s that privileged thing. The whole movie is supposed to be that intimacy.
And the end result was to ensure that viewers weren’t distracted by those “crusty old tape” frailties when watching The Beatles perform. The performance is enhanced by the presence of keyboardist Billy Preston, the “fifth Beatle” (as Lennon considered him) who joined the Apple sessions and the rooftop concert. “Preston was energizing,” Martin said. “He’s a damn good musician that he made them realize he was someone they had to face. The thing about Billy is that he always played the right role and he reminded them of what they are good at and what they need to do.
Martin also appreciates what Jackson brought to the nearly eight-hour, three-part miniseries. “Peter is an incredible filmmaker and a fan,” he said. “I think it was [finding] the identity for them, and the fact that we made the right decision in making it this kind of gargantuan [reality TV] thing. I think we live in a reality TV world anyway. But it’s a much better reality show with the Beatles than the Kardashians. And Peter’s approach was suddenly realizing how privileged it was to pull out a tape and press play and how exciting that was. And I think that’s what he managed to achieve for people.