How The Beatles documentary Get Back is the future of editing & post-production process

Rahul Patil
4 min readDec 17, 2022

It’s been a long time since The Beatles stopped making music but their influence still ricochets on pop culture.

Last year, Disney+ released their Beatles docu-series, Get Back.

The documentary was shot in the ’70s over the duration of 21 days— Covering the journey of John, Paul, George, and Ringo recording the band’s final album “Let It Be”, which had “Get Back” as the temporary title at the time of recording.

As a huge Beatles fan, it is a fascinating docu — An intimate portrait of The Beatles at a pivotal moment in their career, as they navigated the challenges of working together and the shifting cultural landscape of the late 1960s.

The original plan was to make a television show out of it but it didn’t happen — so all the 60 hours of footage and 150 hours of audio recording got shelved in storage.

To be released 41 years later in a documentary directed by lord of the rings director, Peter Jackson. A sci-fi fantasy film director making a documentary about rock stars, you know something has to be different about it.

And you’re right to think so — Cause on the surface, what might seem like just another documentary, is in reality nothing less than a technological wonder — Made by using modern tech like Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning.

We could observe the impact of these technologies mainly by studying how they made enhanced the two main important aspects — Visuals and Audio.

Visuals —

Those who’ve seen the documentary or the trailer — Must have witnessed the beautiful imagery of it, especially for footage that was originally shot on 16mm.

You can witness the different yourself from the below images.

Before —

After —

Side by side comparison —

You can clearly see the before and after difference — The colors are poppier and less grainy. Overall, the output is much much more appealing to see than the original footage.

All of this was done throughout the docu-series using AI and Machine learning — They taught the computer to improve the quality of visuals throughout the footage in a consistent manner in order to produce high-definition output.

The output is superb — I mean, if you compare the old and new footage side by side — you would immediately notice some colors that were nowhere near noticeable in the old footage.

Imagine how much time it must have saved them and potentially do so for others.

But here’s the even more interesting part…

Audio Recording of Get Back -

Decoding 150 hours of audio can get hectic — You have to dissect what part is important to build the narrative and what to discard — Plus we haven’t even talked about the audio quality of some part of the footage that is distorted.

Though relying on innovative solutions to solve this problem —

They fed machines the sound of John, Paul, George, and Ringo — So the AI can learn their voices and separate all the footage according to the requirement.

This has mainly two advantages:

  • If you want to separate the footage where for example only George is talking — The computer will give you all the clips where George is predominantly talking.
  • And in the footage, where lots of characters are talking and you only want to amplify George’s voice — It is now possible to do so since the computer knows now what George sounds like.

They didn’t just stop there, they also fed the computer the sound of instruments like drums, guitar, base, etc. so it can separate the footage accordingly.

  • Sometimes during the rehearsal, The Beatles would purposefully amp the music, so they can have a private conversation amongst themselves and the recorder would not be able to pick up the sound. But with the help of AI, now it was possible to drown out all the unnecessary sounds and to hear their secret conversation as well.
in the particular snapshot, we can see the focus is solely on guitar & drums, and the sound of vocals & bass is muted.

The whole process gives a clean and required output to the docu-series to build the narrative more firmly.

The advent of AI is inevitable and with time, it’ll add new dimension to the filmmaking process. With Get Back, we can observe that it has already begun by showcasing creative solutions in the editing process, and the end product is astounding. But it’ll be interesting to see how this technology will get widely accepting and adopted to develop new tools in filmmaking.

Thanks for reading and please follow for more filmmaking related content.

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Rahul Patil

Writer and aspiring film-maker. Here to write about the art of storytelling, movies, books, practical psychology and new things that I'm learning.