08 July 2020

Modernized videos from 1911-1913

Lots of interesting things to note.  Any modern viewer will be struck by the scarcity of vehicles, but I also was intrigued by the limited color palette for clothing, signs, and objects.  I suppose the chemical industries had not yet mass-manufactured synthetic dyes, and natural products would have been relatively expensive.  (Or perhaps the colorization process is limited in the degree to which it can saturate colors without distorting skin tones).  I liked the signs that hang at an angle over the street so that pedestrians can view them, and the young girls bouncing rubber balls.


  1. I love these videos! My favorite, from the same channel, is pre-earthquake footage of San Francisco:


  2. Yes these are fascinating. The original videos in quality/size are shown quite early around t=9s. Both the "upsampling" (i.e. adding information to blow up the image size without pixelation) and the colorization are being handled by a machine learning algorithm. The algorithm has been trained on some higher quality film or photos and it is trying to make the historical film more like the film it was trained on. So the colors will be dependent on that training set. I'm sure if you trained it on a film like Pleasantville (1998) you could get very strange output.


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