A few weeks ago, we shared a version of the classic silent film The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station that had been upscaled to 4K and 60 frames per second. The results were, at least in my opinion, absolutely stunning. The footage — some of the most famous ever captured by a motion picture camera — felt more real to me than it ever had before. Silent films were shot at varied frame rates; often 16 frames a second, but sometimes more and sometimes even less, which lent the footage a slightly jerky, and sometimes unnatural quality. At 60 frames per second in high resolution, the images looked like they could have been shot last week with actors in period costumes.

Here is another incredible example of this “neural network” technology in action. The original footage comes from the Museum of Modern Art. Dubbed New York 1911, it’s a “documentary travelogue of New York City” that “was made by a team of cameramen with the Swedish company Svenska Biografteatern, who were sent around the world to make pictures of well-known places.” YouTuber Denis Shiryaev — who also made the 4K The Arrival of a Train — used neural networks to create this new version of the 110-year-old images.

(Note: The colors are not original or authentic, and were added “only for the ambiance.”)

For sake of comparison, here is what this footage looks like in its original frame rate.

It’s remarkable to watch the two versions side by side. I’m not crazy about the fake colorization — they’re not real, so they’re mostly just a distraction — but I do love what happens to silent film when this technique is applied to it. The movements are smooth and realistic, and the people seem alive. It’s like a cinematic seance or something. Keep these silent film experiments coming.

Gallery — VHS Tapes That Are Still Really Valuable:

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