Yadle Profile: François Lamoureux
Updated: Feb 9, 2021
We recently spoke with François Lamoureux of Fogo to discuss his involvement in “TOWER OF SONG: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen”.
François was responsible for managing over 100 terabytes of data captured on that single night of the tribute concert on November 6th, 2017. The data was stored in two different cities and needed to be accessible easily from anywhere.
Fogo selected Yadle for managing the collection, indexing, and tagging of this data.
Yadle: Tell us about “TOWER OF SONG: A Memorial Tribute to Leonard Cohen”.
François: My role in this amazing project was conferred to me by Robert Kory, whom has handled Leonard’s affairs for nearly 20 years and is known as the man who single-handedly took Leonard from near financial ruin to financial independence all while increasing Leonard’s fan-base to near mythical proportions. To say that Robert Kory takes Leonard Cohen business seriously, is an understatement. Robert’s motto is Excellence Without Compromise. With that, Robert entrusted my brother Pierre and I, through Fogo, to produce the concert film portion of the tribute.
That original role grew very rapidly to encompass a whole cornucopia of roles including the critical task of recording, mixing and mastering the audio. This was not a simple task as artists all had approval rights on their performances. Artists on the bill included, amongst others:
Lana Del Rey
We managed to get everyone to sign off on the performances and audio quite quickly with little or no changes requested, which pleasantly surprised Robert.
In addition to all audio duties, Pierre and I were to support Director Jack Bender (Lost, Sopranos, Game of Thrones) who was directing his first concert film. Since Directing concert films is the core activity Pierre and I do for a living, we proceeded to set up everything regarding production as if we were Directing so that Jack could concentrate on the art. I also personally handled all post-production technical planning, staffing and supervision.
It has been over three years since we started work on the project and I am still working on various iterations related to it including enabling the successful archive management of the priceless assets created on that night which take up nearly 100 terabytes of data.
Yadle: What are the challenges you face as an archivist?
“What I did not have for Rush was Yadle !! That would have made my life SO much easier… Why were you not around in 2002 ??”
François: Well, it all started with Rush around 20 years ago. We had been working with the band and were discussing doing what eventually became Rush in Rio. Fogo did not end up doing that concert film for a whole bunch of reasons. But through discussions with management, we were challenged to come up with an archive plan for the band. Management had clearly explained the challenges as they saw them to us and explained that they had refused many offers from people and companies that wanted to handle the bands archives. We were thrilled that management approached us. We then went on to produce the R30 and Snakes & Arrows concert films all while restoring and handling the band’s archive.
The archivist challenges really revolved around data management in the end more than anyone had anticipated. The other challenges were around sourcing the machines and technology necessary to not “just” transfer music assets dating from the early 70s until today but transfer them with the highest fidelity possible. I proceeded to acquire the last brand new Studer A-827 Gold 24 Track Machine, from the last production run of 100 machines made, directly from the Studer offices in Switzerland. Then I acquired, though a good friend, BBC decommissioned tape machines and various noise reduction devices in mint condition. Once I had all the machines required for the collection including the actual ½” Studer A80 from purchased form Morin Heights Studios bankruptcy, I needed to solve the big elephant in the room problem which was the so-called “sticky-shed syndrome (SSS)”.
There were a number of known work arounds to deal with SSS, even a patent made by AMPEX. But using those techniques were still leading to tapes being destroyed in various other high-profile projects. I did not want to be one destroying the Tom Sawyer master, so I used my chemistry background and started working with a couple of chemistry PhDs and hired a University lab to test things and we actually found the true cause of the syndrome and it is not at all what people think it is. Armed with the true cause we could apply the proper corrective measures and not a single tape posed a problem. I was going to publish the findings through the Audio Engineering Society but my mentor advised against it and the solution has remained a Fogo trade secret.
Once the equipment and tape degradation problems were solved and taken care of, we had to deal with the data management issue. Originally, the Rush collection was to be donated to a University or the National Archives of Canada. Each have their own data management system. In addition, I had chosen Iron Mountain to store the assets. They had their own data management system. I was able to devise a system that would work with all University Libraries and the National Archives without them having to reclassify or do crazy intake of assets which could take years due to backlog. And it also worked with the Iron Mountain system, but they initially did not want to budge from their data management system. In the end though, and to their credit, they did! I told them they needed to use my asset codes. Eventually, Iron Mountain started to apply my method across their whole organization!
We then built a proprietary database that was cutting edge LAMP Stack tech back in 2002. It still works well today. We built in safeguards to safeguard as much as we could against piracy by immensely complicating the lives of anyone trying to hack the Rush assets.
What I did not have for Rush was Yadle !! That would have my life SO much easier… Why were you not around in 2002 ??
Yadle: What were the Tower of Song archive challenges and what solutions did you try to address these challenges?
"The goal was to have a mirrored system in another city... That is where Yadle came into play"
François: 100 terabytes was enough of a challenge, thanks. It was actually 100 terabytes x 2 as there was another storage system involved in another city. There was another production company involved in the Tower of Song Tribute production who handled the interviews and some extra show footage as well as admin and tax credits. The goal was to have a mirrored system in another city. What happened is that naming conventions and overall conventions, that I had put in place, were not followed to the letter. They had their own ideas on how to manage things. The result is that we did not know if we had mirrored systems or not. We did not want to put them in the same room in the same town so we needed an elegant solution to audit the assets, so to speak, and ensure that the assets were safe. That is where Yadle came into play.
Yadle: What was the process to collect all the files using Yadle?
"it [Yadle] can positively confirm that a file has doubles or triples or that it is unique in spite of the name of the file, which in our case was absolutely huge!"
François: The process was seamless. It involved installing the application and letting it do its thing which amounts to deep AI indexing of the files where it can positively confirm that a file has doubles or triples or that it is unique in spite of the name of the file, which in our case was absolutely huge! Yadle enabled us to conduct a true audit of both 100 terabyte systems in two different cities and solve once and for all what needed to be done to have a mirrored system. Plus, once the indexing was done, Yadle allowed easy exploitation of the archive where footage choices were easily made from the thumbnail previews. The way I described the Yadle method to Robert Kory was that Yadle put a Peter Parker Spiderman metadata tracer on each file so that even if the file name was to change, we would truly know what the file was. More importantly, as assets would be created, we did not have to worry as much about naming conventions not being followed as a metadata tag would be assigned to each file through the Yadle innovative File Channel AI File Intelligence platform.
Yadle: Did Yadle solve your challenges?
"Yadle absolutely solved the problem..."
François: Yadle absolutely solved the problem with checksum proof to boot, not to mention those great thumbnails for ease of use. The thumbnails allowed Robert Kory’s Los Angeles team to remotely view the thumbnails which came in handy as choices of footage could be made remotely without the need to access the actual files, which for the most part require specialized software to read.
Again, I wish I would have had Yadle in the Rush days…. Who knows, I may have less gray hair today !