John Lennon & Yoko Ono's 'Imagine' Film Returns to Theaters: Inside the Restoration Process


The 1972 movie Imagine, which John Lennon and Yoko Ono co-directed, co-wrote and co-starred in, that includes cameos by Andy Warhol, Fred Astaire, Miles Davis, George Harrison and extra, has been remixed, re-mastered and restored for one-f and limited-run theater screenings worldwide, beginning tonight (Sept. 17), with theater-only extras and choose viewings in Dolby Atmos encompass sound.

The movie — restored by Simon Hilton, remixed and re-mastered by Paul Hicks, with Ono serving as producer and inventive director — is like an indie music video compilation all of the Imagine album songs, plus some from Ono’s Fly. The couple co-produced the album with Phil Spector.

Eagle Vision is pairing Imagine and one other restored movie, Gimme Some Truth, for launch on DVD and Blu-ray on Oct. 5, the identical day the six-disc field set, Imagine: The Ultimate Collection, drops.

Working since 2016 on the movie, Hicks says the tune transfers simply got here from multi-tracks, however the sound results and dialogue from the whispering to “John-Yoko” call-and-answer section to Ono’s prolonged avant-garde tune “Don’t Count The Waves” had been somewhat trickier.

“Sometimes we needed to take it from the unique supply, generally in phrases sound results Simon and his individuals went again a layer and labored out the place the sound results got here from,” Hicks tells Billboard.

Hicks, who received Grammys for The Beatles Box Set and The Beatles’ Love, recommends individuals see it on the cinema for optimum audio and visible expertise, however acknowledges that many will view it on laptops and even (shudder) a cellphone.

“My one largest suggestion is go see as large as potential as a result of we first blended it in stereo after which in encompass, after which for the needs for the entire field set, for the movie facet, we did it in Dolby Atmos as effectively as a result of it’s the entire Imagine album and a handful Yoko tracks, and the Yoko tracks are fairly wild. So there are the rock ‘n’ roll-y ones after which there’s actually good enjoyable Yoko items.

“Atmos provides extra definition in sound as a result of you’ve gotten the audio system above and on the sides as effectively. The complete concept was to immerse the viewer, listener, within the music. It’s humorous how youthful generations are glad to observe a TV program on their telephones. If that’s the case], undoubtedly get an excellent pair headphones and take heed to it.”

The restoration the movie took eight years. Billboard spoke with Hilton in regards to the painstaking course of.

What form was the movie in?

With the movie, a pair actually attention-grabbing issues that had occurred with the movie, one which was it was initially made for TV within the U.Okay. So it had all been shot at 25 frames per second, and, course, for theatrical, it’s worthwhile to have every thing shot at 24 frames a second. So all of the efficiency footage within the studio couldn’t be used for theatrical launch. And they filmed all this conceptual footage, which is extra attention-grabbing – the cinema Jean-Luc Godard was fairly an enormous inspiration for Yoko for that.

In phrases the restoration itself, what we had was a print Imagine and what occurred is I went by way of that print and eye-matched each shot within the movie to all the unique negatives. We had all the unique negatives transferred to HD a quantity years in the past after which I took a print and eye-matched on an Avid. Literally went by way of the footage and located each single shot and matched every shot from the unfavourable to the pictures within the print. So we went actually again to the unique footage that went by way of the digicam to remake the grasp.

At the top credit, it says the digital remaster 2010 – 2018. It took eight years?

laughs]. Yeah. Well, it was eight years in the past that we did the transfers the footage. The audio mixes had been completed over the past two years. But the precise eye-matched half it was a reasonably fast course of. It’s occurred in several phases over the previous few years. Once we had completed the neg unfavourable] cuts, it went f and was digitally cleaned, body by body, and the group at an organization known as Munky actually went by way of and hand-cleaned each single body as a result of the character it being very grainy 16 mm movie is that it doesn’t rise up very effectively to going by way of a field to be cleaned. If you’ve gotten clear footage, you may typically put that by way of a pc however on this case we wished to do it body by body. So that was fairly a protracted course of.

So it was made for TV initially, then it was launched in 1985 on VHS.

Yeah, it was initially made for TV after which it did a theatrical run in America and the U.Okay. But the movie ended up being edited at 25 frames a second and it was projected at 24 frames per second so it ran a bit sluggish. And the VHS model that was out was additionally slower. Simon sings slowly] ‘Imagine all of the individuals’ laughs]. So one the thrill this challenge was having all of it working on the right pace.

Another great point is Paul Hicks, who’s a triple Grammy Award-winner, who has re-mastered all of the Lennon catalog for Yoko traditionally, he was capable of remix the whole soundtrack from the unique multi-tracks. We’re outdated friends. He’s remixed every thing from first era, multi-track audio switch, so the standard the sound within the cinema is de facto very good and he did a Dolby Atmos combine for the movie particularly, which is a extremely terrific factor. That’s one the best options going to the cinema to take pleasure in that is listening to it as a result of the standard the sound is simply f the charts superb.

There are many individuals who’ve by no means seen the unique. What’s the largest praise they might pay you after seeing it?

Just the way it sounds and appears. Beautiful. Imagine is variety like the costliest residence film ever made laughs]. In the historical past music video, it’s a seminal work. Normally you’d anticipate to see individuals taking part in both stay or within the studio and apparently, it doesn’t do any that. Obviously Yoko’s avant-garde sensibilities went into it. John’s experiences making A Hard Day’s Night and Help! the place there are much more appearing sequences or individuals doing issues — whereas in Let It Be, they’re simply taking part in — however these sensibilities got here by way of. It’s a extremely attention-grabbing piece cinema in that manner, however it additionally has this actually pretty residence film, home-made really feel to it, which makes it nice enjoyable.

We clearly put quite a bit work into restoring the photographs, which had been filmed on very grainy movie inventory. The photos are nice and actually gratifying, however for me the standard the audio that’s one the best issues about having fun with this.

You say costliest residence film ever made, do you’ve gotten a tough determine?

I don’t understand how a lot it price to make in these days. It was self-financed. I don’t know who got here up with that quote first.

It does present what’s potential with different archival footage, not simply John and Yoko however different artists that period. But it clearly is quite a bit work.

It is quite a bit work. I feel one thing that’s actually thrilling about it’s how self-generated it was. They didn’t get in an enormous manufacturing firm. They directed it themselves. They acquired in just a few cameramen. John got here up with this concept getting a helicopter, which was used for “Jealous Guy” and quite a bit the filming in America was completed on the ho. Nic Knowland was down in Ascot filming with them and so they simply awakened within the morning and determined what they’d do this day, and after they had been in America and doing the enhancing, there’s a man named Doug Ibold, who was the assistant editor on the job, and he was telling me tales how they’d seize a movie digicam and exit and do one thing on the road laughs], on the spur the minute. I like the spontaneity and heat within the movie.

The recordings the album had been completed of their residence recording studio and the filming, quite a bit that was completed at Ascot and quite a bit it in New York and the sense it being the wedding John and Yoko and their mixed expertise actually shines by way of in each the movie and the music.

I watched it on my laptop computer. It will probably be popping out as half a field set and it has its theatrical launch. Some individuals may even watch it on their telephones. Did you’ve gotten that in thoughts?

Hopefully individuals will watch it in as many alternative methods as they probably can. It doesn’t actually change the best way one would strategy the re-mastering course of. The music has been blended in Dolby Atmos 7.1, 5.1, stereo. So individuals can take heed to it in all of the totally different configurations.

If they noticed the unique type after which on their pc or cellphone, would they discover the distinction?

On a smaller display, you get extra distinction. Things will look sharper. When you go and see it within the cinema, on a a lot greater display, I noticed issues I’d by no means picked up on earlier than, because it reveals extra element within the image. But it didn’t have an effect on how we re-mastered it. Yoko has a extremely excessive normal excellence for work that she does, each for her as an artist and in the best way that she approaches bringing out John Lennon issues. And she’s very hands-on. She expects a extremely good normal excellence and she or he could be very concerned too. She likes to be there and half it and she or he has a really sturdy inventive path with what she does. And one thing she could be very eager on is preserving the integrity the originals and that was one thing we did in approaching the audio remixing and the movie re-mastering. The reduce doesn’t change.

There is a temptation when revisiting this stuff like Adrian Maben did when he went again to Pink Floyd’s Live at Pompeii is to vary the reduce and add extra footage or take it away and/or to recut it in accordance with how individuals edit issues now, which tends to be sooner. But the aim right here was to stay with the integrity the unique.

When they launched it in 1985, they chopped out a tune, “Mind Train,” half “I Don’t Want To Be A Solider” and different bits. Got it right down to 55 minutes.

There are two variations the movie — one is the full-length model, which is the one which you will note now, which was their unique model and the one which did the theatrical circuit. I feel the report firm put out one other model the place they reduce out Yoko’s songs, so it was simply John’s songs and she or he didn’t have any say or hand in that, which is de facto unlucky as a result of Yoko’s songs and her scenes within the movie actually add an amazing high quality to it, significantly within the 5.1 mixes, Yoko’s songs actually shine by way of. She and Paul had quite a bit enjoyable within the placement some the avant-garde sound results in that regard, which makes it a way more attention-grabbing auditory expertise.

Speaking auditory experiences, in the event you go see it on the cinema, there’s three extra movies. How Do You Sleep? How? and Oh Yoko! And for How Do You Sleep and How? they’ve been blended in what we name 'Raw Studio' Mixes the place it’s framed as in the event you sat within the middle John & Yoko’s recording studio at Ascot and the musicians are positioned precisely as they had been positioned within the studio. So John’s popping out the center speaker in entrance you; Klaus Voormann taking part in bass behind you to the fitting; George Harrison is taking part in electrical guitar in entrance you to the fitting; Nicky Hopkins is on Wurlitzer to the left and Alan White is on drums behind you to the left. So you are feeling such as you’re within the room with them taking part in. It’s fairly a singular combine. People have a tendency to combine in a formulaic manner now and this actually breaks that system utterly. So it’s a extremely thrilling add-on that you just get to see once you go to the cinema as a result of these three additional options.