Bravo to Howell Begle, Jef Huey, and the Henninger team for bringing this lost film back.
Arlington, VA (PRWEB) March 28, 2014
“A Celebration of Blues & Soul: The 1989 Inaugural Concert” is a television program to which Henninger Media Services (“Henninger”) proudly contributed its technical expertise— to protect, preserve, and present this historical show to PBS viewers for the first time. There is quite a story as to how this historic event finally came to air. Howell E. Begle, Esq., an entertainment lawyer and founder of the Rhythm & Blues Foundation, had been one of the producers of an inaugural concert featuring blues and soul performers staged for President George H.W. Bush in 1989. Over time he had come to believe that the recordings from this event had been destroyed. In 2005 he was contacted by an official at the Bose Corporation in Massachusetts regarding a box of video and audiotapes with his name on them. This phone call would be the inception of this historic program.
Knowing the content on the tapes and their invaluable worth, Begle raced to Boston to claim the assets. Due to the age of the tapes and less than ideal storage conditions, Begle's primary concern was the preservation of the recordings. The 24-track audio masters were transported to New York City, where Begle received help from associates at Rhino Records. Due to the deteriorated state of these 2” audiotapes, it was decided that a “bake and play” strategy would be used. This is a process in which the audiotapes are literally baked in a low heat oven to remove damaging moisture and then immediately played back to a new recording format – in this case a digital recorder. Thankfully, all went well. With the audio recordings safeguarded, Begle shifted his focus onto the quality and usefulness of the 1” videotapes. This is where the trusted technical knowledge and capabilities of Henninger were called upon.
Through a mutual colleague, Henninger Senior Video Editor, Jef Huey, was introduced to Begle. Provided with the backstory of the tapes’ origin and their 16-year “disappearance,” Huey suggested that Begle bring the tapes to Henninger to inspect the condition of the aged masters. “When I received the call about the footage, I was unsure of what to expect,” reflects Huey. “I was concerned that, due to their age, the tapes may have oxidized and become fragile. After reviewing one or two tapes, I knew that if the footage was to be salvaged and preserved, they needed to be transferred to a more stable format.” Begle agreed to have Henninger transfer the delicate masters to Digital Betacam. “This project would have never gotten this far had it not been for the efforts of Henninger Media Services, their support and attention to detail,” says Begle. “I feel fortunate to have been introduced to such a top-notch staff.” Armed with the security of knowing that the concert footage was no longer at risk of being permanently destroyed, Begle encouraged Huey to “do something” with the footage.
Over the course of nine years, as well as editing the concert footage, Huey took on the role of co-producer for the project. Undoubtedly, there would be hurdles along the way, posing challenges to producing a HD broadcast-quality show from SD, analog footage. Recalling the editing process, Huey comments, “There were six cameras the night of the concert, but only a director’s Line Cut, and one Switched Iso tape were recorded. So my editing options were limited.” The show wasn't shot with a plan that it would be televised. “There was no audience footage shot. This made it difficult to transition between the acts. And with so little to choose from, I found myself using some of the raw material— cutting '80s footage in a current MTV-style,” chuckles Huey.
While Huey had been shaping the show, Mr. Begle had been tirelessly negotiating a deal that would allow PBS to air a special version of the concert. Now came the task of finishing a show that would satisfy PBS's technical needs. The biggest challenge involved the main Line Cut footage. The tapes that the Bose Corporation had were 1” protection copies. Issues during the duplication process had caused image tearing in the upper portion of the image. Amazingly, Betacam protection copies of the original masters were discovered in 2010. Evaluation suggested that the Betacam tapes, while not showing the same defect the 1” protection had, were not as high quality overall. So a complicated process was devised using one of Henninger’s Avid DS systems to selectively combine the two sources, creating a source tape that could pass the stringent PBS requirements.
Despite the number of issues that arose, Huey forged ahead with the project; devising solutions on his own, as well as often drawing technical assistance and support from other members of the Henninger team. “My in-house relationships with colleagues here made this show possible,” shares Huey. “From the colorists, who color corrected and then re-corrected, to our audio mixers, to our disc author, and our engineers— all of them stuck with me during the process.” Time and technology also dealt graciously with the project. As the program was undergoing re-editing for final delivery to PBS, it was discovered that the quality of Blackmagic Design's Resolve noise reduction feature was significantly better than the tools available in 2005, prompting Huey to reprocess the whole show. This final SD submaster was then upconverted with Henninger’s Snell & Wilcox Alchemist Ph.C to create the HD Master that PBS had requested.
Just as Huey had worked on the show since 2005, legendary sound mixer Ed Greene had been working on taking the audio from the 24 digital recovery process and creating a spectacular 5.1 surround sound mix. Greene, who has received more than 20 Emmy Awards®, was thrilled to craft the sound of this show. “I try to put the viewer in the 10th row center of the concert, to make them feel as though they were there,” shares Greene. He provided Huey with a 5.1 mix of the entire concert with various stems to allow the editing needed to package the PBS version of the show. Recent developments with Avid Technology's Media Composer and Steinberg's Nuendo allowed Huey to manage over 30-plus tracks of audio for the final minor remixing in Henninger’s mix suites.
In early March, Huey and Henninger hosted a viewing party for members of the Washington, D.C. production community that were involved in the original production. In an atmosphere like that of a high school reunion, the audience of 25-plus was transported back in time to that memorable evening. Present at the event, Director of the Live Video Recording, David Deutsch shared his sentiments. “I can't express how excited I was to see the final edited program. I watched in awe at how a bare bones TV production— especially compared to today's standard— has been restored to a vibrant and joyful experience 25 years later through well-crafted video editing and sound mixing.” With jovial elation, the attendees rocked and sang along with the artists as they performed on the monitor. It was evident that the nostalgia of the those legendary artists was present. “It was a journey 25 years back in time, but with the vibrancy of today. This show is a ‘must-see’,” declared Gerry Wurzburg, Executive Producer of Original Recording. “Bravo to Howell Begle, Jef Huey, and the Henninger team for bringing this lost film back.”
Airing on PBS (check local listings) throughout the month of March, viewers will have the privilege of seeing and hearing legends of Blues and Soul perform their greatest hits. “A Celebration of Blues & Soul” includes performances by Dr. John, Bo Diddley, a duet by Carla Thomas and Billy Preston, Chuck Jackson, Delbert McClinton and Albert Collins. The broadcast is capped off with an amazing performance by Stevie Ray Vaughn. Fans of Blues and Soul will also have the opportunity to purchase a longer collector's edition of the DVD at the conclusion of the show's airing as a part of the PBS Pledge campaign.
Read additional reviews of “A Celebration of Blues and Soul”:
Long-Lost Video of R&B Stars at 1989 Inaugural Is to Air -The New York Times
ABOUT HENNINGER MEDIA SERVICES Celebrating 30 years in the industry, Henninger Media Services (HMS) provides video editing, audio, graphics, Blu-ray and DVD authoring, telecine, QC, duplication and distribution solutions to a diverse client base; including broadcast, corporate, advertising, non-profit, and government. Located in Arlington, Virginia, HMS offers services in 4K Ultra HD, High Definition, Surround Sound, 3D convergence and finishing, and film transferring. Complete information about Henninger Media Services may be found at http://www.henninger.com.