Restored Pink Floyd at Pompeii and new Adrian Maben Floyd documentary at Montreal Film Festival

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by bodhisattva, Oct 4, 2013.

  1. bodhisattva

    bodhisattva Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Man, I've been dying to post this for months...

    First to get the less exciting of these two bits of information out there first:

    There will be a free outdoor screening of the restored 1974 version of Pink Floyd at Pompeii at the Festival de Nouveau Cinema in Montreal on October 10th at 7pm. This version comes from Adrian Maben's personal 35mm copy of the film, which was transferred to HDCAM SR and restored using the ArchAngel Ph.C HD at Vectracom in Paris. I've seen the tape and it looks fantastic, and the film is presented in it's original 4:3 aspect ratio. There were two soundtracks on the tape, a two channel stereo, and a 4 channel LCRS, which I didn't know existed and is different from the quadraphonic mix of the film. I'm not sure which one they'll use at the screening, but the fidelity of both is very good. Adrian himself will be in attendance to present the film, as well.

    The more exciting news is that Adrian has prepared a new Pink Floyd documentary called Chit Chat With Oysters, which will screen for the first time at the same festival, on Oct 11th at 9pm and again on the 14th at 1pm. This documentary is culled from black and white footage shot in December 1971 at the Europa-Sonor studio in Paris, when the band was mixing and overdubbing the Pompeii multitrack. You will have seen about 8 minutes of this footage in the Director's Cut DVD of Pompeii, but this new documentary runs almost 60 minutes long.

    I worked for a company that does film scanning and grading, and in December of last year through a series of wonderful coincidences, I was put in touch with Adrian through an intermediary after mentioning to someone that I'd be happy to do some of that kind of work for free in order to learn how to use some of the equipment we had. When I got a message saying that this person had 'a contact with some rare Pink Floyd film', I was expecting that I might scan some bootleg 8mm or 16mm concert film from the 70's, but within a week I was speaking to Adrian on the phone, and he was telling me he had 5 rusty cans of professionally shot black and white 16mm reversal film of Pink Floyd in the studio in the early 70's that he had found while cleaning his Paris apartment. I explained to him that I was still learning to use the equipment and that while I had a good eye, it would take me some time to complete the job because I was not only new to using the equipment, but also that I'd have to do the work on evenings and weekends outside of my regular working hours. I probably don't have to say how exciting of an opportunity this is, and I think he could sense that in me - I remember him saying 'I have every confidence in you' several times in those early days.

    So in January 2013, Adrian came over on the Eurostar to London with his suitcase of old cans of film and left them with me. It's a bit scary holding something so precious in your hands, but I was determined to treat this footage with the care it deserved. I called in every favour I had at work and first had all the footage ultrasonically cleaned and all the splices fixed. Adrian had cut the rushes to ribbons in 1971 to make a short 15 minute bit of reportage that was shown on French television, and when he was done, he spliced everything together as an afterthought because he couldn't bear to throw the footage away, even though it seemed like it would have no use. In 2013, all the tape used for the splices was sticky and falling apart, and needed to be replaced.

    I scanned the film at full 2K resolution on a Spirit 2K scanner over the course of two days, and then spent almost every free evening and weekend I had for the next 2 months grading the film using a Baselight grading system. Part of the reason for the length of time it took was obviously my inexperience with the equipment (I'd only worked on my grandparents wedding film and a few other bits before this) but the main reason was that I spent an inordinate amount of time with every single shot, until I was convinced it was as perfect as possible. The Baselight system has a cornucopia of tools that allowed me to get the most out of the film and surgically fix any of the shortcomings in the source material, which were mild at best - the film is shot and lit very well, and the results, I think, are stunning. I showed much of my work to some of our senior staff just to make sure I was on the right track.

    Now about the film, you're probably saying 'I saw the black and white footage in the Pompeii Director's Cut and it didn't look that great', and you're totally right. It appears that when that transfer was done in 2000, it was just a 'one light' which means the entire film is transferred without any compensation for changes in exposure etc. It was also cropped from it's original 4:3 aspect ratio to 16:9 along with the rest of the film in the directors cut version. The end result is that the footage looks terrible - the blacks aren't dark black, and the whites aren't bright white, everything just looks grey. Most of the interviews were originally framed really tightly, and as you see on the Directors Cut DVD, this results in shots where all you can see is the eyes and nose of the person that's talking, with the mouth and top of the head cropped off by the 16:9 aspect ratio. When I transferred the film, I did it as zoomed out as possible, and then cropped the film gate out of the shots one at a time so that the maximum amount of picture information was retained. I prevailed upon Adrian to keep the film at 4:3 just as the source material was, and he agreed, so what you're seeing is exactly what was on the original negative.

    I haven't seen the finished film yet, but the rushes are amazing, and capture the band at a pivotal moment in their career. In addition to the band's lunch in the studio canteen which you've seen some of in the Director's Cut, Adrian conducted in-depth interviews with each member of the band and got some amazing insight in to the mindsets of the band by being in turns friendly and likeable and then also insightful, incisive and probing. You really get a sense of the different band members personalities at the time: Rick - the thinker, Nick - the joker, David - the everyman, and Roger - the enigma. Unlike the colour interviews with the band from Abbey Road in 1973 that find them either a bit high or determined to obfuscate, the interviews in this film, and the footage of the band working (and playing) in the studio are incredibly real and honest and show a band both incredibly focused but also still having fun.

    Gosh, I've written a lot, but if anyone has any questions about either this film or the Pompeii film, I'd be happy to answer them. I spent a lot of time with Adrian when we were working on this and asked him tons of technical questions about the film and the band, so I'd be happy to pass on any knowledge I can. I kind of feel like 'long time listener, first time caller' with this post. Perhaps a few interesting facts to start things off:

    1. The Pompeii multitracks still exist. According to Adrian, they were in his possession for a long time, and then Roger Waters asked for the tapes at some point, and still has them. Adrian believes they are in a vault somewhere in Los Angeles.

    2. The main reason for the rear projection shots in Pompeii is that they ran out of film in Pompeii and the financiers would not spring for any more film stock. Adrian knew that once they got back to Paris and showed the investors the half-filmed versions of the songs that they'd have to put more money in to the project to finish the shoot, which they did.

    3. Chit Chat With Oysters contains the only Pompeii outtake known to exist - a 4 minute continuous tracking shot around the band and amplifiers during the instrumental part of Echoes, Part 1. The shot moves in the opposite direction of the shot in the Pompeii film, which leads me to believe this is an alternate performance as well. Unfortunately this is the only one that was in the rushes, I believe Adrian had this footage made (converted from 35mm colour to 16mm black and white) for the short Pompeii reportage segment that was aired on French TV in 1972.
    LitHum05, FloydMaui, polchik and 28 others like this.
  2. Toby Benjamin

    Toby Benjamin Forum Resident

    Cardiff, Wales
    Thanks for this very informative Floyd news!

    Is Chit Chat being released in any other form apart from the cinema screening and do you know when?

    Many thanks
    CrazyCatz likes this.
  3. ridernyc

    ridernyc Forum Resident

    Florida, USA
    Yay another Pink Floyd documentary, I was worried they wouldn't hit quota this year.
    SteveFff likes this.
  4. Toby Benjamin

    Toby Benjamin Forum Resident

    Cardiff, Wales

    The band have only officially released two in the last ten years.

    The others had nothing to do with them.
    bobcat, CrazyCatz, bopdd and 2 others like this.
  5. Barnabas Collins

    Barnabas Collins Forum Resident

    Thanks for the info. I'd love to see an improved version of Pompeii on DVD or blu-ray. I didn't like the director's cut with all the additive outer space footage and the sound quality left much to be desired as well, IMO. This is probably the only concert film where I prefer watching the VHS tape.
    CrazyCatz likes this.
  6. SoundAdvice

    SoundAdvice Forum Resident


    Not sure how long the ones are on Live 8 or the Storm T doc.
  7. SoundAdvice

    SoundAdvice Forum Resident

    Do the multitracks contain extra performances?
  8. Toby Benjamin

    Toby Benjamin Forum Resident

    Cardiff, Wales

    The official Syd Barret doc is from 2001. 'The Wall' wasnt a documentary and was released in 2000.

  9. And it's a FREE Screening..I shall be attending.
    CrazyCatz likes this.
  10. acjetnut

    acjetnut Forum Resident

    Awesome! Are any clips posted online?
  11. There is a blu-ray just screaming (har) to come out of all this. Pink Floyd Live At Pompeii - Immersion, anyone?
    rontoon likes this.
  12. CusBlues

    CusBlues Fort Wayne’s Favorite Son

    While the DVD does not have the best sound, it is much better than the VHS. IMHO of course. I normally watch the original film and would never watch my old VHS version.
  13. rontoon

    rontoon Floydian Archivist

    Highland Park, USA
    Excellent news and thanks so much for sharing the story and details of your work. As an old film guy I can certainly appreciate it!
  14. amonjamesduul

    amonjamesduul Forum Resident

    What was the source for the DVD?I think I remember Adrain mentioning it in one of the extras.
  15. Black Elk

    Black Elk Music Lover

    Bay Area, U.S.A.
    Nice story, and well done on keeping 'mum' all these months, I know how hard that can be.
  16. bodhisattva

    bodhisattva Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Just to answer a couple of the things have been said thusfar:

    This isn't a documentary like any of the other Floyd documentaries that have been released. The documentary is comprised only of footage captured on that day in 1971 - there is no voiceover, no new interviews with random talking heads not connected to the band, nor any misty-eyed remembrances from current day band members or anyone associated with the band. What you really get is a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the band in the studio that day, with not just David and Rick overdubbing vocals for Echoes, but also some amazing footage of Roger and David working on the mix with the engineer, amongst other things, which I found fascinating. The interviews as well, are great I think. Adrian has a way of asking provocative questions in a really low key way - one of my favourites in the footage is he asks each band member 'what do you think of the people who say that your music is repetitive, that the new album sounds like the one before it, and the one before it?' I think coming from a lot of other people, or phrased slightly differently, this kind of question could've easily offended the band, but in Adrian's hands, you get some really insightful responses.

    Regarding the multitracks, I don't believe there are any extra performances. Adrian kept the multitrack of the finished film in order to do the quadraphonic mix in 1974, and I believe all the audiotapes which would've contained outtakes were stored in the same vault in Paris that stored all the original negative. All of that was destroyed in the early 1980's, when the guy in charge of the vault wanted to make more room - under French law, all you have to do is send a registered letter to the owner of the footage, and if they don't reply within 6 months, you can destroy the footage. Because the company that had financed Pompeii had gone under in the interim, the letter went unanswered, and the footage was incinerated. Apparently the man who was in charge had never heard of Pink Floyd and never attempted to contact Adrian or the producer of the film, which Adrian is still livid about all these years later.

    Regarding the Director's Cut, I don't think you'll see it again, and definitely not on Blu-Ray, as it was conformed and finished in SD only.

    Regarding Adrian's plans for the film after the screenings, I don't know. The good news is that he owns the rights to the footage outright, so he's free to do with it what he wants. I also thought that a deluxe or 'immersion' edition of Pompeii would be the perfect place to put the Chit Chat film as well - Adrian has written a wonderful 8,000 word essay of his recollections of the Pompeii shoot and release, and he also has about 40 colour photos shot by the DOP during the filming that would make great extras. I asked Adrian about the possibility of a Pompeii Blu-Ray earlier in the year, and he said there is some general want in the Floyd camp to do it but that it won't happen until a 5.1 mix can be done of the film, and the 5.1 mix can only be done by James Guthrie who is busy with the 5.1 mix of The Wall. Adrian said a possible solution is that one of Guthrie's assistants could do the mix with James overseeing the final result, but that nothing had come of it yet. I like the idea of a deluxe restored Pompeii with the stereo mix, the quad mix, the LCRS mix and the 5.1 mix, with Adrian's new film and whatever other extras completing the set. Adrian has invited me to the screening in Montreal, so I will speak to him and ask him if he has any thoughts - he did say that getting something like that done requires someone at the label who will push for it, and that the guy who advocated for the Director's Cut DVD had lost his job with all of the mergers at Universal.

    Lastly, there isn't any footage of this new documentary on the net anywhere yet, unfortunately - I will also ask Adrian about having a trailer cut when I speak to him.
    CrazyCatz and Tone_Boss like this.
  17. amonjamesduul

    amonjamesduul Forum Resident

    Seems like a lot of work just to show 1 time so I hope a blu ray comes of this.Glad to see it's the 74 version,thats the one I grew up with tho I know some prefer the music only version.Not at all speaking ill of James Guthrie since I know barely the basics of the process,but how long does a 5.1 mix take?Does he work 40hrs a week just on the wall or is it just from time to time along with other projects,Steve wilson seems to spit these out by the month,I have been hearing about The Wall mix for some time now.thanks for all the info.
  18. kevintomb

    kevintomb Forum Resident

    Great post, wow..not sure what to say..unreal!
    CrazyCatz likes this.
  19. SoundAdvice

    SoundAdvice Forum Resident

    This stuck out....
    Big Pasi likes this.
  20. bigmikerocks

    bigmikerocks Forum Resident

    grrrrrreeeeeeaaaaat news!!!!
  21. ceddy10165

    ceddy10165 My life was saved by rock n roll

    Avon, CT
    Thanks for sharing this - your story is fascinating!
  22. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    San Jose, CA
    Ditto - thanks a lot for your posts.
  23. Ghostworld

    Ghostworld Forum Resident

    Can't wait. I love seeing floyd in the studio in the directors cut. To think there is a full hours worth.....what a treat?
  24. ranasakawa

    ranasakawa Forum Resident

    I'm excited !
  25. stillwatr

    stillwatr New Member

    Wait - October 10th was last night! Folks who there - don't leave us in suspense! How did it look? How did it sound? Any more word on Blu ray?

    I'm dyin' over here.

    [I like to oysters transcend national boundaries]

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