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I'm Andrew. I write about the past and future of tech, music, media, culture, art, and activism. This is my blog.

Further Experiments with DeOldify

Posted: November 13, 2020

As I mentioned in my last post about DeOldify, my results so far have been Mixed. I’m learning what makes a good candidate for DeOldification, and what kinds of problems the system of DeOldifying will work around, versus the kinds of problems that stop it from working. Here are the results of my recent experiments:

Our Hospitality - Directed by and Starring Buster Keaton - 1923

This one came out great. Most scenes look as if they might have been shot in color originally. I am over the moon with this result. There’s still some tuning to do, and some places where I could manually repair a few minor problems, but on the whole this is an excellent film that has been augmented by colorization.

Various Television shows and films

Included in this batch are: Captain Video, the episode of Space Patrol I posted in my last article on the subject, the same episode of Space Patrol after increasing the contrast of the original black and white episode, an episode of the Flash Gordon film serial from the 30s, and The Astronomer’s Dream.

Captain Video

This is a VHS rip, one of the lowest quality videos of any show in my collection. The end result here is … in color. It looks like a color VHS rip. It might be the best looking color TV show of the batch?

Flash Gordon

This one also came out very well. Exceeding my expectations.

Space Patrol

The original attempt at space patrol was Bad. The colors were flickery and inconsistent, people were walking around like Zombies, and frankly it did nothing to improve the show.

I bumped up the contrast on the original and tried again. The new results are better. Not good, mind you, but better. With some more fine tuned processing of the original, maybe an unsharp mask in addition to some less heavy handed brightness and contrast corrections, I might be able to get Space Patrol all the way to Good Enough.

As is, the contrast corrected version is watchable, and I think it’s easier to watch than either the original or the first colorized attempt, but it doesn’t exactly look Good.

The Astronomer’s Dream

I had no idea what to expect here, and the results make about as much sense as I was afraid they might. That is to say, none. The input file was ugly, jittery, and badly damaged. The output file has occasional flashes of color smeared around without a lot of rhyme, but frankly it might as well still be in black and white.

I think, for the nightmare that this film represents, that the colorized version works. I might even call it an improvement, but I’d also call it a failure.

Up Next:

Over the next few days, I have queued up the following films and episodes from the following TV shows. I’ll continue to upload them to my account on Archive.org.

  • Rocky Jones, Space Ranger
  • Teenagers from Outerspace
  • Cat Women on the Moon
  • My Favorite Brunette
  • The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
  • More Space Patrol
  • Beat The Devil
  • The Phantom of the Opera
  • The Last Man on Earth

I expect my results to continue to be pretty mixed, but I’ll report back here with the best and the worst, and thoughts on moving forward in a few days.


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