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YouTubers are upscaling the past to 4K. Historians want them to stop

YouTubers are upscaling the past to 4K. Historians want them to stop

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  1. I think a lot of people in this thread are missing the point of this article. It’s summed up pretty well in this (unfortunately buried) paragraph:

    “Their tech is a means of making jerky, jittery images seem suddenly modern, but for historians, the distance between now and then is the whole point. “It’s the effort that creates the understanding,” McKernan writes. “Without that there is no true sympathy, only false sentiment. Film that looks like it was shot last week belongs only to last week.””

  2. Historians are talking shite. Adding colour to photos makes it far more relatable. That was why that WW2 movie was so good. It took away the distance between you and the black and white footage that made it feel so long ago and showed you how similar people were then. That better framerate and the colour are 100% the reason for that.

  3. They’re talking as though these are replacing the original photographs, or the restored versions of said films.

    It’s a bunch of people on youtube using a free/cheap AI to upscale it. Chill out. This isn’t a “jesus fresco” situation, it’s not replacing anything. The originals are unaltered.

  4. this is just as good as my gameboy color injecting a random color palette to non gameboy color games

  5. So long as no one is destroying the source materials what is the real problem here?

    Yes, it’s been altered, and how it has been altered is clearly stated, and you can go look at the originals if you want to.

    This kind of feels like a “you damn kids and your technology” thing.

  6. I’m all for colorizing pictures from the 1950’s and 60’s, come film was already available but B&W was cheaper. I’ve found that people use the B&W to unconsciously dismiss the turmoil of the time as “so long ago” when this was the age of ‘Gilligan’s Island’ and ‘I Dream of Jeannie’.

    Bringing these images into color humanizes the pictures to a more recent and relatable image.

  7. A lot of retarded assumptions being made that’s for sure….

    > “The problem with colourisation is it leads people to just think about photographs as a kind of uncomplicated window onto the past, and that’s not what photographs are,” says Emily Mark-FitzGerald, Associate Professor at University College Dublin’s School of Art History and Cultural Policy.

    But they are an “uncomplicated window into the past”. I look out the window right here and I see an assortment of trees, grasses and sometimes a squirrel or bird. Do I have a full contextual understanding of squirrel-ness or bird-ness as a result? Of course not, but I can most certainly see what I can see. I can’t believe anyone is expecting much more from old photos and videos. The value in the videos being referred to is that they are of people acting naturally which is unusual since most are of people posing or acting. The only real value of the “colorization” is in the level adjustments and the so-called “colorization” provides a higher fidelity so more detail can be seen where it would otherwise be lost to our eyes. We can see green gray next to brown gray better than gray next to slightly grayer gray. The colorization hardly makes it look more real. It just makes it easier to see more detail.

    Sounds like these so-called critics are just old bafoons complaining about perceived change where there really isn’t any of merit. Only the completely color blind would look at these videos and think they accurately represented color.

    I feel like these “critics” are trying to call me stupid and I resent it.

  8. Nerds gonna be nerds and be snobby about certain things, I’m the same way in some of my hobbies. A perfect example is /r/hometheater – they will make you feel like an idiot if you ask a question about a soundbar at all, even though soundbars are legitimate home audio devices, they feel they don’t belong discussed there. They could start a new sub like /r/componentHT or something, but then it wouldn’t get the same visibility. I digress, experts just gonna be snobby sometimes.

    TL;DR – Experts across many different fields have different sometimes strongly opposing opinions and some of them don’t even make much sense to an average person other than pure snobbery, it’s just how it is.

  9. I think the goal should be restoration. Restore the footage to the quality it was in 1911 or whatever.

    They shouldn’t be adding things that weren’t there, like nearly quadrupling the frame rate (15 or 18 to 60) or color. Computer generated fill frames never look great and we’ll never know exactly what the colors looked like.

  10. They decided to be historians because they couldn’t do a calc class.

  11. Historians:

    > Publish a 800 page thesis about a whole civilization based on half a fragment of pottery

    Youtuber :

    > Infer colors in a video

    ” Wait that’s illegal you can’t do that ”

    That’s stupid gatekeeping. It’s just entertaining videos, nobody is claiming any historical accuracy.

  12. While I understand the point the people in that article are trying to get across, they sound like the coffee barista hipsters of historical films and imagery. They are very clearly projecting their own views of how people connect to these films on to how they think everyone should view them. It’s a good way to limit the amount of public interest they’ll get in it. It’s not like the originals are being destroyed in the process.

  13. I am only bothered by it due to the fact that it can then be easily manipulated. As one historian says it becomes hard to tell if additional things were added that weren’t there. As long as they clearly labeled it was manipulated, and keep an original copy available I am totally down though.

  14. As long as original is preserved. But they did mention that it is concerning that someone could edit something in or out and unless you have th original, you’ll never know.

    It could be slight modifications, but perhaps forming a narrative that didn’t exist in the original.

  15. The perspective of these historians is completely ridiculous.

    By making the images easier to understand it somehow puts them “too close” to the modern experience?

    Because the available tech at the time could only capture B&W 240p (or whatever the resolution was), somehow that has historical meaning?


    People live their lives in high definition. By making videos closer to reality, it brings the past into focus for us.

  16. Eh it’s a dumb argument.

    If historians really wanted these preserved, they would argue that that the films should never be digitized in the first place and they should be watched on 100-year-old decrepit projectors with phonographs, the way God intended. /s

    Upscaling the digitized films is the right thing to do. Would you rather future generations sit there and go “These look like garbage, imma go play Minecraft in 16K” ?

  17. Thank god this is getting attention.
    Some of them are fucking ridiculous. I saw WW1 soldiers in fluros and pastels…

    This is firmly in the genre of dumb entertainment + amateur execution.

    I actually think the software could be put to use properly, with multiple historians, and specialists (eg builders and engineers for the 1930s skyscraper workers), contributing _accurate_ information for the artificial elements and production/direction.

    I also think the AI can both be tuned _way_ better, and it will get smarter. Maybe specialised for historic footage, or periods / places.

    The current productions are fucking amateur hour to the max.

  18. If you keep the source and make it clear that the “enhanced” version is an artistic interpretation then I see no issue. The historians in general have a point in that the modified version has information added that was just not there which is open for biases from the creator. But its not like the source automatically vanishes. Besides: Even historians translate media. I bet some of the originals tapes of these films don’t exist anymore. We now upload it to youtube and from there it gets archived. Information gets transformed and lost all the times.

  19. The thing is that this will never be as good as a scan of the original film that’s been restored.

    Just look at how “They Shall not grow old” looks like.

    AI can’t replace a real person and some accurate historical knowledge (at least for now)

  20. I like them a lot. The old ones are mostly hard to watch. I do not see any problem. Just be clear that you edit the original. Also, what happen, also happen in the original.

  21. Does this mean that I can download a 360p video and be able to watch it on my 4k tv with AI? 😉

  22. It’s one thing to dislike something, it’s another to tell others how they should feel. It’s like telling others to stop eating broccoli because you don’t like the taste of it.

  23. Not once in that article did the historians actually raise a compelling point about why we shouldn’t try to upscale or colorize old videos. Like, no shit they ain’t valid historical artifacts in and of themselves. Nobody (to my knowledge) is seriously treating them as such. They’re entertainment.

  24. A million views on an upscaled video on YT is a million views the footage otherwise wouldn’t have received.

  25. The problem with these things is that they condition the expectations and tastes of viewers.

    In decades past we had movie goers who would not watch movies with “black bars” or who would not watch b&w movies. Or old movies with “bad effects”. So we had colorization, pan & scan and even George Lucas style butchery.

    The danger with AI restoration and upscaling is that the younger generation will scoff at the original images. “LOL potato cam” type comments on beautiful vintage footage.

  26. It’s far more important to see the **relationship between the raw source material and any derivatives** — I’m a lot more interested in seeing those connections recorded as metadata that “Y was based on X”, as technology marches on. Digitize the origins as best we can, but leave room for creative and technical reinterpretations that can bring a new light to appreciating the whole lineage.

    For example, https://www.extremetech.com/extreme/314653-remastering-deep-space-nine and the “deepfake” improvements of other old videos, that wouldn’t have been possible years ago.

  27. read the article. the historians believe its nonesense to colorize. i prefer better viewing experience.

  28. 4k I’m fine with it’s the fake 60fps that gets on my nerves. Just stop it. The original was probably taken at an inconsistent frame rate or at most 15fps. Adding a crap load of fake frames just makes everything look worse. Motion looks terrible. So stop

  29. Only if done right then it is ok. I remember seeing some upscaled videos when all kids looked like the same face. Some uncanny valley happening there.

  30. If the original footage wasn’t somehow damaged to make it why give a fuck?

  31. I’m not against this in principle, but having looked up neural love’s “New York in 1911” its a pretty poor “enhancement”, would much rather watch the original.

  32. Oh no, how *dare* people create *derivative* works.

  33. A lot of the “4k enhanced” videos I see upvoted on /r/videos have looked absolutely awful including the ones mentioned in the article. I’m fine with restoration but what I’ve seen with these videos is more akin to terrible Blu-ray remasters with heavy DNR.

  34. It depends on how the upscaled version is used. In a documentary, the image should be the original, or a version that is simply increased in resolution so it’s not too small to see or a pixelated mess.

    Part of the history is seeing it in the media of the era. We don’t see ancient Greece in tintype, it exists mostly in stone monuments.

    If it is just to have an upscaled version to have it, then that is fine.

  35. If you reanimate your dead, they come back evil. Everyone knows that.

  36. I read through this and cannot parse the argument against this. Their quotes seemed to be fraught with hyperbole and platitudes, without stating a concrete reason as to why this process is not acceptable.

    The original film isn’t being edited, who cares?

  37. Historians can suck it. It’s not like these you tubers are petitioning to have the originals replaced with the new versions.
    I for one love the 4K 60fps colonized records of history. The exact reason they think it shouldn’t exist is why I love it. It feels closer and more tangible. I don’t need the “distance”, I get it without B&W scratchy shaky footage.
    But I can’t control my brain, it sees black & white footage and it just ‘checks-out’ all on its own.
    I guess at the risk of sounding cheesy, I feel more, connected, more “wonder” watching these updated versions.

  38. The colors are awful, also the dark areas in the 1911 NYC clip are crushed to black so they still need to do some levels adjustments.

    But I do like how they got the frame rates correct, and on top of that the 60 fps is nice.

  39. I disagree with the historians here.

    If the original is preserved and the enhanced/modified version is labeled as such there is nothing wrong with enhancing them.