Watch this incredible 1896 film of a train upscaled to 4K


Publicly available AI has been used to enhance old footage

Scared cinema audience

In 1896, a 50-second silent movie was created using an all-in-one Cinématographe camera that captured footage using 35mm film.

That film was part of a series created by the Lumière Brothers using the camera tech around the time. 

This short film was taken in La Ciotat, Bouches-du-Rhône, France and showed a steam train pulling into the station.

Urban legend has it that when the film was first shown to an audience they were so surprised by it that some screamed and tried to run out of the way of the incoming train. 

Hard to believe now, when we watch the blurry, low-resolution version of the footage, but at the time it was a modern marvel. Interestingly, the camera that was used to capture the footage also doubled as a projector to show it off to the audience. That 50-second clip resulted in around 56 feet of film that had to be hand-cranked through the camera in order to play it. 

Upscaled and enhanced footage

Fast-forward to 2020 and the clever Denis Shiryaev has used artificial intelligence to enhance the original footage and transform it into a 4K 60FPS clip that’s much more impressive. 

A mix of DAIN and Topaz Labs’ Gigapixel AI enhancement programs were used to analyse the original footage and find details and structures to complete the images. This technology essentially helps to sharpen and enhance the original footage and add in missing pixels the make it 4K. 

Of course, the system isn’t perfect and there are imperfections if you look closely, but there’s still no denying how impressive it is considering the age. 

As if all that wasn’t enough, a 1080p version was also colourised by DeOldify Neural Network too, transforming the old footage into something that could have been captured much more recently. 

AI everything

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen artificial intelligence being put to interesting use. AI is regularly being used to create Deepfake videos (which are fairly worrying) and even to combat them too. 

Just recently we’ve seen the use of AI being expanded across London to help monitor road use and improve cycling routes throughout the city. It’s even being implemented to help you get served more efficiently in the pub too. 

We love seeing it being used to transform history though and hope to see more of this sort of thing in the near future.  

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