Mike Hedges and Martin Kwok interview: ‘The Beatles: Get Back’ sound
For Mike Hedges and Martin Kowk, the respective sound mixer and editor for “The Beatles: Get Back,” the original audio quality of the footage they were going through was not great. “It wasn’t that clear what was happening. There were scenes where you could not understand the vocal because of what was being recorded at the time,” Hedges tells Gold Derby during our recent webchat (watch the exclusive video interview above). Kwok adds that they had a great benefit in having the ear of Charles Martin (son of Beatles producer George Martin) for the audio restoration. “We knew that we were on the right path, particularly once we’d started to develop the machine learning breakthrough.” The machine learning enabled the team to separate the voices and the instruments on the audio.
“The Beatles: Get Back,” which is currently available to stream on Disney+, is a three part documentary directed by Peter Jackson made up of previously unseen footage of the legendary band. The footage was shot during January of 1969 when the band was writing, rehearsing and performing songs that would eventually be on their final album, “Let it Be.” The footage culminates in the group’s infamous rooftop concert on Saville Row in London. Both Hedges and Kwok have been longtime collaborators with Jackson, with Hedges winning two Oscars as part of the sound mixing team for “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” (2003) and “King Kong” (2005).
SEE over 300 interviews with 2022 Emmy contenders
Kwok was a fan of The Beatles but in a more indirect way than most people were since his parents were more into jazz when he was growing up. “We inevitably found over time, all of that music has already seeped into your system, like osmosis. Even if you’re not growing up with The Beatles on the Hi-Fi every day, it’s just within you.” Hedges, on the other hand, is an immense fan of the group having grown up on their music. “I’ve always looked upon John, Paul, Ringo and George as great musicians, but I just love the simplicity of the music and how much creativity was put into their tracks.”
Hedges also got an unexpected compliment from Ringo Starr about what had been able to do with the audio. “In the originals, you couldn’t hear the drums and Ringo made a comment at one stage about how now I can hear my drums.” It’s safe to say that getting that kind of feedback was incredibly flattering for him. “I think that was quite a compliment because what we were able to do is separate all of the different elements and balance it to an acceptable standard.”