My quest for “Let’s get lost” – Chet Baker by Bruce Weber

Let's Get lost - movie poster
Let’s Get Lost (1988) is a American documentary film about the turbulent life and career of jazz trumpeter Chet Baker written and directed by Bruce Weber.

I saw Let’s Get Lost in Leuven, I guess around 1990. Chet Baker has been a weak spot for me ever since, because I now knew how much suffering was hiding behind that vulnerable voice. I tried to find a DVD of it but apart from a VHS tape (I don’t have a player) I couldn’t find anything. Then the other day I found the whole movie, split in 13 parts, on Youtube:

Now I could watch them on my PC one after the other, but I wondered if I couldn’t join them and watch them as 1 single movie on my Apple TV. And I managed. Of course, the quality is not comparable to DVD, but it’s something. Here’s the procedure:

  • I installed Easy Youtube Video Downloader for Firefox.
  • I downloaded the 13 parts one by one. Each file was a 40MB MPEG4 video. The format:
    Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘Chet Baker Lets Get Lost 1988 0113.mp4‘:
    Duration: 00:08:21.2, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 628 kb/s
    Stream #0.0(und): Audio: mpeg4aac, 44100 Hz, stereo
    Stream #0.1(und): Video: h264, yuv420p, 480×360, 30.00 tb(r)
  • I transcoded each file to a .VOB (MPEG2, DVD format). Each VOB file is about 180MB. For the transcoding I used ffmpeg: ffmpeg -i [INPUT.MP4] -target pal-dvd -y [OUTPUT.VOB]
    The result:
    Input #0, mpeg, from ‘Letsgetlost01.vob‘:
    Duration: 00:08:21.2, start: 0.500000, bitrate: 2734 kb/s
    Stream #0.0[0x1e0]: Video: mpeg2video, yuv420p, 720×576 [PAR 1:1 DAR 5:4], 9000 kb/s, 25.00 tb(r)
    Stream #0.1[0x80]: Audio: liba52, 48000 Hz, stereo, 448 kb/s
  • The handy thing with .VOB files is that you can append them into 1 file and they just play in sequence. So I just did copy *.VOB ONEBIGFILE.VOB and this gave me a 2,2GB video file in DVD format.
  • I now needed to transcode it again to a format that plays on my AppleTV, so I used Mediacoder to do that.
    The final result: a 525 MB video file, ready for my bedroom TV:
    Input #0, mov,mp4,m4a,3gp,3g2,mj2, from ‘Letsgetlost.mp4‘:
    Duration: 01:54:55.2, start: 0.000000, bitrate: 624 kb/s
    Stream #0.0(und): Video: h264, yuv420p, 640×480, 25.00 tb(r)
    Stream #0.1(und): Audio: mpeg4aac, 48000 Hz, stereo

Now just imagine I could do the following: search for the movie in iTunes, pay for it, let it download and it’s there, 15 min later, on my Apple TV. If it were possible, would I do that? Yes. But the movie industry does not have a solution for the long tail of video, does not want to set up a convenient distribution model for video, certainly not for that funny region called ‘Europe’ and so we need to resort to elaborate and cumbersome methods that, unfortunately, do not make them any money.

The world around the movie companies has changed, the customers have changed, the technology has changed, and if they keep on refusing to adapt, they’ll be like a buggy whip company.

You know, at one time there must’ve been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company?

Larry the Liquidator – Other People’s Money

5 thoughts on “My quest for “Let’s get lost” – Chet Baker by Bruce Weber”

  1. Just wondering if you have ‘sundance’ on your cable ? The Chet Baker doc-u is being played there along with other Bruce Weber films every Thursday night. I really love Chets playing and of course many other jazz players. Being a bassist myself jazz has to be the most chalenging music for an artist to play. Aside from Bakers playing I was stunned by the quality and creative filming of the Baker story. Old and new cuts were flawlessly joinned together in a most artistic way. This was really some of the best ‘doc-u work I’ve ever seen…hope you have ‘sundance ch. TV, it’s allot eaiser than doing the youtube method you had to endure.. Peace………..frank aug-18-2009

  2. I have a PAL copy
    of “Let’s Get Lost” on DVD
    that I transferred over to NTSC.

  3. I’d really like to see the Chet Baker doc. I get Sundance. When in October will it be playing and what time.

    Thanks, Robert

  4. I am in the same shape you are. I am on a constant quest to find a copy of “Let’s Get Lost”. From reading your blog, I am not sure you did get a copy. If you did, can I ask you to share? Let me know what I need to do. Related to the “Let’s Get Lost” documentary, have you seen the Jack Sheldon documentary “Trying To Get Good”? It is great. I can trade you a copy for “Let’s Get Lost”.

  5. Hi There “My Quest…”
    Not sure how your quest ended up.
    Saw what I thought was a DVD for Let’s Get Lost” at MDC Music & Movies at the Royal Festival Hall at the Southbank, London but when I returned today to buy it they were out of stock. Also, the sales person thought that I may have seen a CD version of the soundtrack.
    Hence my online quest followed and after finding you I bumped into
    I have just ordered a, what was described as, “Let’s Get Lost(1988)(DVD)(DVD – 2008)” from Amazon and am having it sent to a friends house (at mega postal cost) as it is to be a belated xmas present. It should arrive at his just before I turn up with some friends for dinner.
    If you are interested I will let you know whether it plays and is the genuine article.

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