Hey all - I'm glad you're enjoying the concert film. I volunteered to edit the film as a thank you gesture toward Neil and the other artists, and also because it seemed like something that fans would want to experience - so I appreciate all the warm comments (and even the constructive criticism - I can take it).
I'll share a few details, since this seems to be a collection of folks that might be interested in reading about that kind of stuff.
This all started in 2013 when I was reading a Q&A with Neil on Twitter and somebody asked about a concert film for the 2009 shows. I wasn't even aware of the shows, but Neil mentioned that there was footage but no time / resources to edit it into a proper film.
As the article mentions, I'd been playing around with Final Cut Pro for a few years and editing some music videos for some friends. I figured "What do I have to lose?" So I sent Neil this message over Twitter DM:
"Saw the Q&A. Are you seriously looking for someone to edit the 2009 '7 Worlds Collide" videos? I'd be happy to help. Best to you."
It's not the first time I'd taken a real long shot like that (I once offered to record XTC in mid 90s when they were on hiatus - crazy kid). I honestly didn't expect to hear back from him, but he replied within a few hours and I sat there a bit stunned... though more excited by the idea that it could actually happen. I sent him some music videos to check out my editing work, and we began the slow process of getting the footage from New Zealand to Chicago, where I was living at the time.
Simon Mark Brown, who's shot the footage and directed the Sun Came Out documentary, located the footage and sent it my way. He warned me that it would be a messy process, but I said I was willing to take it on. Perhaps it was a bit foolhardy, but I had faith in my basic musical and timing instincts and I figured that I would just figure out the technical details along the way. On April 1, 2014 I picked up three hard drives full of footage, but didn't really dive into the editing proper until a few months later. I had to upgrade my home computer setup - and adding a powerful external drive was a key component.
Here are of couple of principles that I settled into regarding the aesthetics of the video:
The footage was raw but honest: no sweeping crane shots, no fancy steadicam moves, some blur here and there. There were usually three or four angles to choose from, but sometimes fewer and sometimes one night would only have partial footage on a given song. Some of that was a challenge, but I also felt that there was a beauty to the footage that paralleled the concert itself - the performances felt full of spontaneity as did the framing and movement of many of the cameras. I decided to follow that lead and keep the editing similarly honest.
What that meant was I tried hard to always use shots that were captured in the same moment as the music (even if it was from a different night). If a band member was shown doing something, I wanted it to be accurate to that point in the song and not just a collection of cool shots assembled like a music video.
I also avoided any effects or filters during the concert itself. There were some fun in-camera effects that were part of the footage (you can see an example of this near the end of the guitar solo in Distant Sun, or during Bodysnatchers, if I'm recalling correctly), but other than that I didn't want to add any polishing that would make the concert feel less real.
I felt like the relationships between the musicians was a key component of the concert, so instead of cutting from song to song quickly I left in a lot of the friendly banter and some of the stage shuffling between songs. A small example of this is when Jeff starts to jog off the stage after a song, but then looks down at the set list and turns back around. It's a silly moment that goes by quickly, but those are the sort of moments that were captured in the footage that helped make me feel like I was at the concert, so I chose to leave a lot of that in. I also looked for moments when the musicians were interacting on stage with glances or smiles or other quirky bits that you sometimes don't get to see, like motioning to the monitor engineer. I like that kind of stuff. It feels real.
Managing the footage from multiple nights was a challenge due to the changing clothes, hair, stage layout, and even personnel in some songs. Eventually, we just decided to lean into that and present the video as a collage of the three nights. I tried to set up this expectation early by showing an image of Neil changing guitars while he was talking in the background. My hope was to set the viewer up to accept a bit of surreality. Some songs ended up more surreal than others, but that was usually a matter of how much footage was available from the night the audio was from. I was originally worried about the changing clothes, personnel, etc - but I eventually came around to liking the collage approach and then I leaned into that a bit to make sure that it didn't just occur once or twice on one or two songs (even though there are some songs, like Distant Sun, where the footage is all from the same night as the audio mix).
And speaking of audio, Jordan Stone did a fantastic job on the mixes. I was working with the original in-camera audio for the first couple of years, and the whole video really came to life once I was able to swap in his new mixes. Kudos to him.
Anyway, hopefully some of you might find the thought process behind some the choices interesting. As you can imagine, it was an amazing experience to go from that original Twitter message to seeing the film released last week. Everybody on Neil's team that I bumped into along the way was really supportive and positive - and getting the occasional email from Neil (and then meeting with him before a couple of shows) was a thrill. He was just as gracious as I'd always imagined him to be from interviews over the years. It's been an absolute honor to be a part of the 7 Worlds Collide experience.