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October 3, 2021 in Sonic General
("Thunder, rain and lightning...")
How many people remember the Sonic Boom events? (Not to be confused with the TV/Game series, or the song Sonic Boom... Or the physical Sonic Boom that exists in the world...)
Well, for those who don't: From 2011 - 2014, SEGA held a series of events titled Sonic Boom where Sonic fans could come along, get involved in a bunch of activities, watch some cool presentations up on stage, and all of that good stuff. Basically, just like the 25th Anniversary party if you remember that.
One of the main highlights of each of these "Sonic Boom"s was Crush 40, as they consistently made their way to Boom 2011, Boom 2012 and Boom 2013 (alongside Cash Cash at Boom 2011 and Boom 2012.) every single time, always giving an excellent performance and rocking out the place.
In 2013, SEGA ran the third Sonic Boom event, at St Louis. Crush 40 performed here as usual, they were showing off some new Sonic: Lost World stuff and demoing it, and Takashi Iizuka was there to do some Q&A things. All in all a very nice event. But did you know, the entire event was professionally livestreamed and there's not one anywhere near complete video of it anywhere online anymore? Well, sit back, and let me tell you the story of how I discovered it even existed, what has been uploaded of it, and the things we've tried in the search efforts to try and find a video of it.
The "Recap Video"
("You're too slow! Couldn't even catch the event in person...")
If you look at any crowd recording of a Sonic Boom event, you'll almost always notice some cameramen walking around on the stage or in the crowd. These cameramen work for SEGA and are not related to any "livestream" or anything. What they're doing is taking short video clips and pictures to primilarly be put into a recap video. Which is a short little 3-minute video summarising some of the highlights of event (and we'll dissect those videos soon because oh boy there is a lot to cover).
And all their footage probably also gets thrown into some internal media bin somewhere, just a big dump of random footage of all different events, ready to be pulled out whenever a video editor working at SEGA wants to make a video in the future with footage of events in it. These people don't film the whole stage show or anything, just little shots here and there of random things to go in the "recap video" (or any future video).
Here's a short image from a crowd recording of Boom 2013, at 3:52 you can see one of them on the stage taking shots of the crowd, and trying to get them hyped up in the shots too haha: https://youtu.be/V3ECl8DCoJo?t=231
Most of the time they're just there in the back of the stage or the corner of the stage, taking shots of whatever's going on, it's quite funny seeing one of them them directly interacting with the crowd here. Here's one of them taking some shots of Jun:
Now, as I said, these people are filming for the official event recap video. And Boom 2012, 2013 and 2014 all got recap videos (2011 didn't for whatever reason). These videos are really cool, you get to see so many pro shots taken by these cameramen of so many of the things going on at the event. Here's the Boom 2013 recap video, which I'll be referring to quite a lot later, feel free to give it a quick watch:
The Sound Matters
("Find the soundboard audio!")
Just before we continue, there's one term I need to clarify, I'm sure you probably all know it but I want to make sure we're on the same page here. At most live events, there's a thing called a soundboard. This soundboard is the thing that takes all the individual things on the stage: The microphones, the audio off the guitar amp, the drums (if there were any) etc. And it mixes them all together, and that sound then gets sent through the speakers. And occasionally, you'll hear people saying "Soundboard Audio", i.e. "This is soundboard audio"
What soundboard audio is referring to is a recording of the sound coming straight out the soundboard, literally recording the exact sound that's going to the speakers. Most professional recordings, like the Sonic 25th Anniversary Stream use the soundboard audio (although in the 25th Anniversary's case it all went terribly, terribly wrong, I made a documentary on YouTube about what happened behind the scenes with that stream if you want to find out more about that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEFpuo187mM)
I'm sure you all know what a crowd recording of an event like this sounds like. It's distorted, it's a mess, because the speakers are so loud you need some pretty specialized microphones and a pretty specialized setup to pick it all up clearly and even then it's never going to be as good as just having the original audio that was going to the speakers. So, ideally soundboard audio is always a really nice thing to have.
Now, take a listen to the audio of the Crush 40 performance in the background of the recap video. Really, take a good, hard listen to it. That right there is soundboard audio, you can tell. You can't hear the crowd (because why would audio of the crowd be going to the speakers), it's not distorted, it's really dry and raw, you can hear Johnny right in your ear (which is an issue just releasing raw soundboard audio like this has, it can sound so dry because it's really designed to sound good on the speakers, and not right in your ear. That's why for things like the Crush 40 Live! CD they actually record absolutely every single going into the soundboard individually and then mix it all together after and pack it with reverb/echo and such).
So yeah, that's soundboard audio. That's really cool, and when I realized this I thought "Oh wow, they really made an agreement with the sound engineer to record the soundboard audio just for the recap video, that's awesome!" (Spoiler Alert: They didn't, but we'll get to that)
The Sudden Drop
("Get a load of this!")
Now, I hate to break it to you. But I don't actually care that much about most of this event. I don't really care about the Q&A, I don't really need to hear soundboard audio or have pro video of it because, well, it's still perfectly understandable in crowd recordings even if it doesn't sound as good. I don't care about Sonic dancing (I don't even know what they were thinking there)... The only bit of this show I really care about, is the Crush 40 live performance. And that's the bit that I would listen to again and again, and that's the bit where sound quality (and high-quality video too) is key. That's where it really matters for maximum enjoyment. And for the longest time, I didn't even care about that! Because, well, it was "just another Crush 40 show" in my eyes, there were plenty of crowd recordings and I thought that's all that existed of the event. Nothing more.
Until, suddenly, 3 months ago someone uploaded soundboard audio of the entire Crush 40 performance onto YouTube. Like- W- Wait a minute, what?! Where did this come from? How did they get this? Did they manage to get in contact with the sound engineer and get it off them? (Don't worry, we'll find where they got it from very soon). But man I am not complaining - that's amazing! Johnny's vocals are clipping and there's a horrible high-pitched ringing sound when he talks, and it's very raw just as we heard in the recap video, but still - it's... It's soundboard audio!
In fact, I was so surprised by it, I actually felt like I had to do something with it. It just felt like my obligation to take this soundboard audio, and make something out of it. So I did this mega project where I took the soundboard audio, tried to clean it up a bit, and then took a bunch of crowd videos of the show and multi-camera edited them together (since, y'know, there's obviously never been any professional video of the entire concert out there... right?) And I think the end result was quite nice (although even now I still see things I wished I'd done, I could've cleaned the soundboard audio up so much more, I could've used clips from another crowd recording I didn't see, a lot of things I wished I'd done now, but, oh well!) Here it is if you want to check it out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bYeRJaxCJLM&t=598s
Now, since I had no idea where this soundboard audio could have possibly come from, I took the assumption that either someone who worked on the recap video, or the sound engineer at the event who looked after the recording just "leaked it", and that's how we got it (which I really would more would do, there's also soundboard audio of Boom 2012 in the Boom 2012 recap video, and I would KILL to have that!)
But... I was wrong. Oh, I was very wrong.
("No way, I can't believe this!")
I remember this well: One day, I was sitting around minding my own business, I believe working on the script for my Crush 40: Lost Live Media Documentary (and you can bet this is talked about in that!) And then suddenly, a friend of mine on Discord DM'd me this video they found on YouTube, with the most shocked reaction I have ever seen from them. That video clip was this Sonic Boom 2013 in a nutshell - YouTube
Hmm... Hmmm... HMMM... What's this?! Is that- Wait, is that, multi-camera- But where's that f- Wait, this is... This is professional video? Hang on, hang on, what?! Where's this from! How did this person have this professional video of the Q&A?! And then I scrolled to the comments and saw this:
I ripped it from the streaming video :)
I ripped it from the streaming video :)
"Streaming video" - w- What streaming video?! I'd never seen any mention or video or anything of a streaming video. It's not like the 25th Anniversary Stream where there are literally 50 uploads of it, I've never heard of this - what?!
So, me and my friend did some frantic digging and, funnily enough, bumped into a post here on Sonic Stadium announcing the stream back in 2013: Sonic Boom Livestream: Going Live, Right Now - The Sonic Stadium
So, hang on, you're telling me that there was professional video of the entire event (including the Crush 40 performance!) streamed to the public, for anyone to watch? And I soon realized... That's where the soundboard audio came from! The stream must have used soundboard audio in it and somebody recorded that audio off the stream - and that's how they got it! But, that's only the audio, where's the video? From what I've heard from people who caught the stream, it was really good with loads of really great pro shots of everything. Surely someone recorded it... Right? How can someone have not recorded it?! So, where can I watch this full thing?
Well, that's a very good question, and not an easy one to answer.
("I might as well go look for that Master Emerald...")
Listen, you can't tell me there was professional recorded video of a Crush 40 performance released to the public and there's no video left of it. It just doesn't compute in my brain, so me and a few of my friends put together a search effort to try and find this stream.
And we did find a few clips of it, besides the Q&A nutshell video. The first one is this ridiculous video (uploaded by Skyler King apparently) of the Sonic Dancing section of the event. Yes, Sonic. Dancing.
And we also realized one other thing. Some of the clips in the recap video are from the stream! Most of it is dedicated shots by recap vid cameramen, but there are about 20 seconds of video from the stream in it, at two different bits. If you'd like the challenge, rewatch the recap video and see if you figure out yourself what clips they are, see if you got it right.
OK, here are the two bits from the stream. The first one is a clip of the Q&A section taken from the stream, at 1:54 - 2:09. You can tell it's from the stream because the cameras are positioned in exactly the same way as what you see in the "in a nutshell" video. And it would really odd for the recap video cameramen to be all be filming exactly the same thing in this co-ordinated way you see here. In fact, before I knew about the stream, I actually always wondered about this very bit, it just felt odd that there were multiple cameras filming it in this connected way like this, I wondered if it was like iMAG video from the venue for a while, they're just not the sort of shots I would've really been expecting the recap vid cameramen to be taking, and that's because they didn't, it was part of a legendary livestream that's gone missing!
And there's also one other clip of the stream in this video - and that clip is of... The Crush 40 performance! Yes! We finally get to see what the Crush 40 performance looked like in the stream, we get to see an entire... Oh, 3 seconds of the video from the stream. Well, it's better than nothing. You can see this at 2:16 - 2:19. Yet again, this was another shot I always wondered about before I knew about the stream, because it just seemed so... Balanced. The way it's a zoomed in shot just doesn't reflect the recap vid cameramen, it's clearly on a tripod, on a raised platform, further back, very different. Hopefully I don't need to explain why this is from the stream. You can just tell it is, the camera is in the same place as we see in the other vids, it's got the low framerate like you see in so many others clips, it's just very, very clearly from it.
But, that's all there is in the recap video. So, we scoured the internet, using three different search engines, taking advantage of the special query syntax, try to find absolutely everything we could. And we could not find a trace more, except this one image of the webpage the stream was hosted on, taken by a photographer who frequently takes photos of Crush 40 events but wasn't able to make it to this one.
And like, just look at how good that looks! It's seriously eating me up inside knowing this was out there and there's no video of it - every single time I see something of it, it just looks so good.
But we accepted that there just wasn't anything else on the internet. So, onto the next step: Contacting people. Maybe someone still has a video of it and they just haven't released it.
First of all, that soundboard audio. What if the person who recorded that soundboard audio off the stream also recorded video! Well, I actually managed to find the very person who originally recorded that soundboard audio (or to be exact they found me when they saw my Lost Media documentary). And they were actually able to give me some more audio they recorded that wasn't on YouTube (I'll upload it at some point for all of you). But they assured me... That was all they recorded. Just audio, they didn't record any video. Damn!
OK, how about the people who literally made the livestream, there's no way they don't have a backup, right? So, who did run the stream? Well, if you take a look at the Sonic Stadium I linked back... Oh boy, Uh... Like three entire pages ago! You can see the original URL to visit the stream was http://livealliance.tv/sonicboom - obviously it doesn't work now, but it did back then. And if you go to this "livealliance.tv" you'll see that... Oh, it's... It's a completely dead website. Hmm. Well, if you go to livealliance.tv on the wayback machine you'll find that "Live Alliance" was (or is?) a live broadcasting company, who runs streams like this on events.
What happened to their site? I have no idea, I don't know what's going on, maybe the company fell apart and isn't doing new projects anymore, maybe it's just temporary, maybe they just decided they didn't need a website - I really don't know what's going on. I'm assuming the worst-case that the company is no longer a company anymore, however. It's odd, their website went down right as COVID started and that's like the opposite of what you'd expect. You would've thought that a live streaming company would excel during COVID times but, I guess not? I don't really know what's going on.
Anyway, I managed to find a way to contact them, and I did so, asking them if they still had a video of the stream. And despite literally everything pointing to this company being dead - they replied! Within 10 minutes! Wow, now that is some boss-level replying... They asked me a few questions just to clarify exactly what event I was talking about, and said that, yes, they were in fact the company who ran the stream for it. And then they said they'll have a look, but it's extremely unlikely they have any footage anymore, in either the final or raw form. I haven't heard much back from them after that, and it's been a month, which kinds of implies the worst-case that they don't have anything.
What the hell? That actually really surprised me - how do they not have a video of it?! Like, I understand that it was just "one of many, many events" to them and quite a small little event at that, but like, I genuinely don't understand how they don't just have a video of it somewhere deep in their archives - why would they not have had something automatically recording it for their potential use. I really don't understand that. Is it maybe because the company is seemingly dead and I'm just too late? I don't really get that.
But, accepting that fact, we had to look at other areas. And we looked at a lot of places: We contacted all the people who uploaded clips of the stream onto YouTube, we contacted the person who took the picture of the webpage, we contacted people from The Sonic Show who uploaded a terrible quality 1 second clip of it in one of their videos. We contacted someone from Sonic Paradox who did a reaction video of it apparently that's now completely vanished. We really went all out, and NONE of them lead anywhere. Every. Single. One. Lead. To. A. Dead. End.
There was only one more major lead: The recap video. Clearly the staff at SEGA who made the recap video had the stream. Let's all pray to the gods they had the whole thing and they still have it to this day. After a lot of researching, we finally managed to track down one of the recap video cameramen on Reddit (they themselves were amazed we managed to track them down!), and they said they don't have anything, they never owned any of the footage anyway, and that it's unlikely there's anything left at SEGA either. We're trying to see if they can get in contact with the person who edited the recap video, but so far that hasn't gained any momentum, so we're hoping that will go somewhere, but who knows.
("He's not getting away with this! I- I hope...")
This stream has been quite literally been killing me for the past month, and the deeper I go trying to find it the more I tear my hair out not finding anything. Just the concept that all this pro footage and all the work Live Alliance put in to make a professional recording of the entire Crush 40 performance has all just gone to waste and has vanished is just absolutely devastating.
And to make matters worse, this is something Crush 40 has at almost NO other show. Besides the 25th Party (and maybe the iMAG from some TGS events and Guilty, if you could count that), Crush 40 has literally never had one of their entire concerts be filmed and streamed professionally to this degree. Yes, Summer of Sonic 2016 had an official video with, well, two cameras that switch like every... 2 minutes, um... And there's some stuff at the ExpoTNT, but really, this is extremely rare for Crush 40, and it's missing!
If for some reason this entire wall of text isn't enough for you, I also talk about this in my YouTube documentary "Crush 40: Lost Live Media" (which is a solid hour long in total as it literally covers every Crush 40 show and what's missing of them), so if you want a video form of this post, there it is at 40:00:
So, what do you think?
Do you remember the stream? Were you one of the lucky ones who got to catch it live back in 2013? What was it like, please let me know absolutely everything you remember! Do you know anyone who might have any clips? It's quite a story, eh?
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