It has been nearly ten years since the concert film for Peter Gabriel’s most ambitious tour to that date, the Secret World tour, first came out on DVD. Much has been written about it – even 19 years later the Secret World tour has lost nothing of its appeal. He first reminds the reader that when the film was first released on DVD in 2002 Facebook did not exist, and neither did YouTube.
Ten years later with the arrival of HD, (…) the oportunity arose to look once again at Secret World Live. With the edit now built from the best scans available I worked with Colourist Ray King and Supervising Restoration Artist Anthony Badger to bring the film to life. The image looks softer at face value, with less contrast, but the new image is actually more natural than the 2003 DVD could ever have had – too much contrast had been added to that. Another thing that is included is the time lapse film of the Berlin show, where everything from setting up the stage to breaking it down again is shown at high speed. Besides the “old” bonus material and the Red Rain recording there is a teaser for the New Blood Live In London DVD and Blu-ray, The Rhythm Of The Heat. It was a new medium then, and the release could not live up to the technical standards of a DVD in all respects (compare our review of the 2003 DVD).
At the Modena shows they also played Games Without Frontiers, Family Snapshot, Shock The Monkey, Red Rain, Biko and Here Comes The Flood. I sent a few of the reels away to be scanned so that we could get an idea of the quality of the film - had it survived nearly 20 years in storage? They added polish to the files,  removing any dirt and scratches and balancing the colour and exposure across all the cameras. York Tillyer has outlined the process: The raw footage has been rebuilt from scratch, each sequence has been newly scanned using the best technology available and the whole film has been reassembled. Secret World Live 2012 brings back the natural look of things and seems much more authentic throughout most of the show.
It might actually require very careful scrutiny to see whether anything has been done with it. With the exception of The Rhythm Of The Heat, all the bonus material is not available in 5.1.
It was released in 1999 and contains the Genesis-Classics Los Endos, titled The Los Endos Suite on this release.


After all, the DVD was, according to today’s standards, a technological joke and an assortment of not very good compromises. This seems to have been handled this way because there were no director’s notes; the footage of the bonus track has been cut with a lot of freedom – its style is slightly different from the other songs. We did the job very carefully, so the framing is better than it would have been if we had left peoples TVs to zoom the action, but fundamentally you’re taking information away and then blowing up the result.
The results were so exciting that we began to formulate a plan to rebuild the film from the ground up. During the scanning process we had discovered that many of the cameras wre shooting a wide Super 16 image, but with the original edit targeting the 4:3 televisions of the 90’s much of the drama these wide shots provide had been cropped from the frame. They could not always find the same image and the same perspective, but those bits are few and not really obvious when you watch the film. At some points, however, one might wish for a clearer visual distinction between light and dark – with less grey, if you will. He reveals he had been planning something similar to U2’s ZooTV tour before he came up with something different, though he was very keen to retain the visual stimuli.
This flaw has now been mended, the 20-year-old footage has been worked over carefully to rebuild a film that is as authentic as possible.
Secret World live comes out fully restored in High Definition on Blu-ray and also in much improved shape on standard DVD. What’s more, the whole course of the show was not left up to coincidence, but almost every movement was carefully matched to the music. Now Tillyer has posted a message on his website on how he felt about restoring the footage and sketches a slightly bizarre image of the re-re-release of the cult film. There were just a few shots we couldn’t find, but with all rushes available we were able to source alternative shots and build an edit for the whole film. Now we could take adavntage of the film format, so that much more of the action is visible - as in the image featured here, we were able to pull people back into shot where previously they had been outside the frame. For the first time we get to see wide angle shots of the whole stage or the musicians without their heads or arms cut off.
It is a very strong sound, though one may feel that, as on the 2CD set, the drums should have been a bit louder. Eagle Rock has also put out a short promo film with details on the restoration that gives the viewer an idea how much effort and diligence have gone into Secret World Live 2012.


For the first time everything that was filmed can be seen (at least as far the width of the image is concerned).
The original material has been carefully sequenced and newly defined so that there is really a high-definition image now. The Blu-ray comes in the typical jewel case with a different set of colours on the cover: The backing colour for the words “Secret World Live” is dark red, while it is backed with the usual blue on the DVD (and, curiously enough, in the DVD and the Blu-ray booklet). Red Rain is peculiar for the opposite reason: It was not part of the regular set at the time, but nevertheless made it to the live 2CD set.
The relevant sections were than scanned on JCA’s amazing Arri scanner at Super 2K - the machine locks the sprockets for each frame then scans it to a file 2000 pixels across.
Though one may have the impression at times that the sound is ever so slightly “behind” the image, closer inspection reveals that to be wrong. The booklet is the same that was part of the VHS video cassette and still contains some useful information about the tour. The conveyor belt on the catwalk is used several times for impressive effects; other props include a phone booth, a tree and a suitcase into which the band disappear before the encores.
It’s generally accepted that this machine pulls the most information possible from 16mm film, so our digital files are now match the quality of the original source. The concert film was (probably) filmed using highly responsive material (the equivalent of a high ISO value in a photo), which means that the footage is a bit grainy. You will not always see wider angles; that effect occurs mainly with shots that were already wide-angle in the first place. It is hardly bad, particularly considering the abysmal quality of the 2003 DVD, but you cannot do a freeze-frame test with the new version either. For technical reasons, the improvement is better visible on the Blu-ray than on the DVD, of course.



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