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by Jason Snell & Dan Moren

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By Jason Snell

7 Worlds Collide: A fan edits his hero using Final Cut Pro X

Note: This story has not been updated for several years.

Neil Finn is my favorite songwriter, and his 1980s band Crowded House is my favorite band of all time. (And their first album is my favorite album. And that album features my favorite song. You get the idea.) So it’s a pleasure to relay the story about how Finn’s 2009 “7 Worlds Collide – Live at the Powerstation” concert video managed to show up on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video this month.

It turns out that Jason Knox, a musician and video editor, is similarly a Neil Finn fan (as well as a Six Colors reader). Way back in 2013, Knox discovered that Finn was sitting on video footage from 7 Worlds Collide1, an all-star concert in Auckland, New Zealand from 2009 featuring Finn and his sons; Johnny Marr of The Smiths; Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway of Radiohead; Jeff Tweedy, Pat Sansone and John Stirratt of Wilco; K.T. Tunstall; and a bunch of others. A studio album of songs was released in 2009, but the live concert remained unreleased. According to Finn, he had simply gotten too busy to find someone to edit all the footage into a coherent whole.

Knox figured he’d take a shot in the dark and offer to edit the concert together himself in Final Cut Pro X, and sent Finn a DM. After sending Finn some links to music videos he’d edited for a friend’s band, Finn must’ve figured Knox was worth a try—they got him the footage and he and Finn collaborated on the project via Dropbox.

“What kind of blows my mind about this whole thing is that we now live in a world where a fan can reach out directly to one of their musical heroes on social media, edit a two-an-a-half hour concert film on a home computer, collaborate via email and file sharing services from half way around the world, and then have the final film distributed via streaming to anyone,” Knox told me. “Neil deserves a lot of credit for his willingness to take a chance on me and send terabytes of footage from New Zealand to a stranger in Chicago.”

Knox’s professional work is largely focused on sound design, so there was a bit of a learning curve with the large, multi-camera project. “I learned a lot more about Final Cut Pro X while working on the concert video… I think it’s a great example of how FCPX has really put power into the hands of ordinary people who just want to accomplish a creative goal,” he said. “I think that Apple’s done an amazing job with FCPX-it’s designed so well that it allowed me to keep stumbling forward into a project like this, and I’m really grateful for that.”

Knox says he feels grateful that Finn was willing to take a chance on a fan, and that he feels lucky that he was able to do something “to say thank you for all the great music throughout the years.”

Since he began working on the project more than four years ago, Knox has had a chance to meet Finn a few times when his tours passed through Knox’s town. “It’s nice to know that the old adage ‘Don’t meet your heroes’ doesn’t always apply,” Knox said. “The entire project has been a pleasure from the start.”

The final concert—nearly two hours and 40 minutes long, featuring 32 songs from the Crowded House, Radiohead, Smiths, and Wilco songbooks as well as some originals and some covers of other artists (I’ll never get tired of “Throw Your Arms Around Me” by Hunters and Collectors), is now available on iTunes and Amazon Prime Video. And all thanks to one brave fan who offered to help make the project happen.

  1. The second go-round; the first one in 2008 was released as a video many years ago as “7 Worlds Collide Live at the St. James”, and also features Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam. 

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