Production notes - ProjectSMiLE 2.0
April 2005
By Stefan Johansson

Note: For 2004 PROJECT SMiLE production notes please click here

Leonardo da Vinci's painting "Mona Lisa" holds not only the secret in the smile of Mona Lisa. It also holds a secret in the blue sky behind her. The secret of a bolt that came out of the blue. In May 2003 Brian Wilson announced the forthcoming of SMiLE. It was to be revealed to the public on 20th February 2004 at Royal Festival Hall in London. Who could have guessed? A lot of us dreamt, but no one guessed. Dreams do come true apparently. Not only did the announcement put a spark in the debate and discussions about SMiLE, it also put the spark to an updated version of ProjectSMiLE. We had a solid platform in the previous releases of the ProjectSMiLE disc. The disc contained a lot of the writings and speculations about what-could-have-been. Not to mention all the fab audio clips from the 66/67 era. Then, enter Brian. He does his business (Thank you, Brian) and then what? The natural step would be to describe how the world received SMiLE. Enter ProjectSMiLE 2.0.

Very soon after the announcement that Brian was going to present SMiLE to the world, we saw that there was a 3 phased path for us in the ProjectSMiLE team to follow. The first phase we had already been through by creating the ProjectSMiLE CD-ROM back in 2001. It originally (versions 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2) contained speculations, theories, various writings on the SMiLE subject and audio clips from 66/67.

The second phase started in February 2004 when Brian went on tour to present us SMiLE live and the follow-up in September the same year with a studio version of SMiLE. In parallel the third phase started where we wanted to capture the observations to the birth of SMiLE made by the world. The world in this case were the fans, journalists and other critics. We wanted to capture the unedited observations of Brian and SMiLE. The way to do this was to start saving all kinds of writings and creating a catalogue and a structure to be used to describe various aspects of the reception of SMiLE. The easiest way to do this was to use the internet. On the internet it's much easier to save writings than it is to save from writings in paper. In addition, the internet is more likely to offer a more extensive coverage of an event such as SMiLE being presented to the world. One interesting contradiction about the Internet is that as easy it is to search for things on the Internet, as easy it is for the information to vanish. Writings are sometimes available only for a short time and then they are hidden behind payment services. In worst cases the writings are simply removed to make room for newer things or the lack of funding. Threads on message boards are only viewable for a limited time to save space and costs.

To come around all these problems with (not) finding old stuff on the Internet, we kept saving writings and threads on a regular basis covering the time from the announcement of the SMiLE tour back in May 2003 up until the 20th of February 2005. We found that the 1 year mark from the first RFH shows in February 2004 was a good time to draw the line. Just seemed like a convenient date to choose. Articles, announcements, other writings, images, message board threads, cool graphics and now historic flash animations were saved. All the writings were written by several hundred people (guys, you're all in the Credits page! A big thanks for the coverage.). They are all unedited in the sense of content. However, some editing has been done from a technical perspective to make the CD-ROM have a common (and hopefully pleasant) graphic design.

We had the ambition to try to capture the feelings and emotions going around among the fans while history was in the making. A lot of us were sitting at home wanting to get the news from the first shows.

One approach we had for ProjectSMiLE 2.0 was to preferably not adding anymore speculations. We've had enough of those before 2004. However, that approach turned out to be somewhat difficult to stay away from completely. We noticed that once SMiLE was out in the open after RFH back in Feb 2004, the discussion picked up speed again. But this time is was not that much "speculations" it was more a questions of "interpretations" and "reflections" (yes, linguists, you can come after us about the definitions...). We felt we could see a difference in the tone and the thoughts. It was very obvious that fans where making their interpretations and those were very interesting to document.

So what's new on PS 2.0? Well, for starters let us tell you what's NOT on this disc. Most of you may think that it would be great to include some of the bootleg shows that has been spreading since 20th Feb 2004. But there aren't any on this disc. They can be found in several other places. The main reason for them not being included on this disc is that Brian has released SMiLE and there are a number of official releases of SMiLE available. This includes a DVD (to be) released with Beautiful Dreamer and the RFH live shows. It won't get any better than that. So you have audio as well as visual versions to buy. Besides, from day 1 of ProjectSMiLE back in 2001 we have had as a rule to support the work of Brian. So if you want any of the released material, support Brian and BUY IT! Now, when that has been straightened out, let's move on to the list of features:

  • A completely new menu with 116 menu items covering SMiLE 2004
  • A convenient function in the menu to switch between the "old" 66/67 section and the new SMiLE 2004 section (be sure to read the Application Guidelines accessible from the start page)
  • An updated timeline (conveniently shared with the 66/67 section of the disc)
  • 78 additional audio clips from the 66/67 era
  • 16 official releases described with basic information
  • 2 historic flash animations
  • Work of 260+ writers
  • 100 gig reviews
  • 66 general SMiLE articles
  • Bios and interviews with 26 musicians and people around SMiLE 2004 (a.k.a "Prime movers")
  • 96 reviews of the released material
  • Complete tour schedules for all legs with set lists where known (Europe x 2, United States, Australia/New Zealand and Japan)
  • Various announcements and reactions to those announcements
  • 154 threads from message boards
  • Images from the tours
  • Images from the studio recording sessions in April 2004
  • Various other images (e.g. musicians)
  • Official 30 second clips of the tracks of the CD released in September 2004
If you were to print out all the editorial material on the ProjectSMiLE 2.0 CD-ROM, you would have to load your local laser printer with some 1500 sheets of A4/Letter paper.

We had a timeline covering the 66/67 era. Now it felt natural to be able to continue that timeline by adding entries from 2003 and forward.

All editorial material was published between May 2003 and 20 February 2005. So if you missed anything, you'll probably find it here. Even if you think didn't miss anything, you'll probably find at least *something* you didn't know you had missed :-) What we want to say is that we haven't added any of the speculations written prior to the announcement in May 2003 that we didn't include in previous versions of ProjectSMiLE.

Why can't you find any other books that are SMiLE related on ProjectSMiLE 2.0 than those listed? That's because we decided to only list officially released publications and recordings approved by Brian Wilson management. Check out our website for links to other publications.

The information given in some of the threads may not be relevant, but the important thing is that the text in the threads captures a moment. A moment very important to the SMiLE community. Reading them takes you back to February 2004 and you can for a short period re-live the moment. The threads are documenting what people thought at the time and how they experienced the situation. It was a special moment in time.

The collected writings on this CD-ROM is mostly in English. However, there are a couple of local writings in other languages as well: Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, German, French, Italian. So, there should a little somethin' for everyone.

No editing of the editorial material has been done, other than from a technical perspective to make it all fit into a common layout to have a nice look and feel and a readable flow in the text. Since the editorial material have been found on the internet, the layout differs from site to site. Different colours, fonts, styles and layout would have made this disc unpleasant if not edited. There's one exception to this and it is addressed in the context on the disc where it's being displayed. It was a deliberate decision to include that particular material "as is" because editing it would have simply been to much work.

Start page image
The image on the start page is custom made for ProjectSMiLE 2.0. We wanted to do something with the 2 album covers since now the ProjectSMiLE disc covers both 66/67 AND 2004. We distinctly had one album cover per era so it was obvious to us that the image on the start page should reflect that. So we got this idea of the 66/67 cover morphing into the 2004 cover and back again and then switching back and forth in a perpetual loop. We decided that a 4 second morph would be suitable. The image reflects the fact that what once was in 66/67 now lives on in the 2004 and the other way around where the release of 2004 has its roots in 66/67. They are woven together very tight.

mp3 --> mp3pro
To be able to cram in some more material from the 66/67 era and all the editorial material for SMiLE 2004, we decided to change the format of the music files from mp3 to mp3pro. The format change is supposed to be transparent. It was tested on several mp3-players both standalone as well as players on computer. The purpose of these files are to serve as illustrations. The discussion about lossy and lossless formats is very lively. But no matter whether you're a true audiophile concerned about sound quality or a normal fan of Brian Wilson's SMiLE (like most of us), we're still keeping our fingers crossed that we will soon see the box set with outtakes from 66/67 (there will be a box set, right?).

In ProjectSMiLE 2.0 we now have support for both Internet Explorer as well as for Firefox. The latter being an upcoming Mozilla browser, we felt that we wanted to make sure Firefox-users could use the disc. A couple of Microsoft specific implementations were changed and that was it.

mp3 tags
The use of mp3-players has become rather common. And why shouldn't you bring the entire ProjectSMiLE 2.0 mp3 collection on the road? To cater for a quick and structured way of uploading to your mp3-player the tags of the mp3s have been edited. Things you should know is that the Artist is "ProjectSMiLE" and "Album" is the various collections (groupings) of tracks. It basically corresponds to the directory structure on the ProjectSMiLE disc. Each individual track name will be the name already assigned to each track. Yes, we know that it is Brian who is the artist but this is simply a technical thing to make it easy to use an mp3-player. Otherwise sorting out all the 400 mp3s in your mp3-player is not an easy task (yes, we tried, that's why we decided to edit the tags).

We hope you will enjoy this CD-ROM as much as we have enjoyed making it. Enjoy it with the "Brian Wilson Presents SMiLE" playing on your CD-player.

And remember, SMiLE is here, so let a smile come to a face near you!

Click here to visit the Project SMiLE web site