4k is where it’s at. If you can’t already tell from the current console generation and range of UHD TV’s, everyone wants to consume their content in 4K these days. This is great for games and movies made with today’s technology, but not really plausible for a lot of older content. This is especially true of classic movies where the sort of technology needed to capture those ultra crips details just didn’t exist.
Of course, we also have upscaling technology that tries to fill in the gap and create a higher resolution, but even that process is fraught with issues and often requires the existing content to be of sufficiently high quality to work effectively in the first place. If you’re willing to invest the time and utilise the right technology though, anything is possible.
Something which one intrepid Reddit user has done by not just upscaling a reasonably old move to a 4K level, but actually taking one of the oldest short films ever made. Shot in 1896 by film pioneer brothers Auguste and Louis Lumière, the 50-second long L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat (aka The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station) is one of the earliest films ever made. Urban myth has it that when the Lumière brothers first screened the silent film, the audience was so shocked to see a moving image of a life-sized train travelling directly towards them in the most realistic manner they had ever seen, that they reportedly ran to the back of the room screaming in terror. This account has been disputed, but it was still a remarkable film for its time. Here’s the original:
And now that film has been upscaled to a remarkable 4K resolution, with it its frame rate brought up to 60fps. Sound has even been added to the silent movie, essentially taking a piece of footage that is 120 years old and making it look like it could be shot today, as you can see below:
Denis Shiryaev is the individual responsible for this remarkable achievement, using several neural networks to upscale the original film. The upscaling is not without its issues, but a remarkable feat nonetheless and an indication of just how powerful the technology has become. And perhaps an indication for the next big thing in Hollywood: Digitally remastered truly classic films in 4K resolutions?
Last Updated: February 10, 2020