Classic Film : AI is being used to color black and white movies

AI is being used to color black and white movies

The results are mixed, but the technology is early and should only improve.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Pretty amazing. I checked it out and found this scene from Metropolis - half and half.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Half of it is almost watchable now

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

In a purely technical sense this is incredible. I can only imagine what this could mean for color grading as a whole. Filmmakers without the capitol to pay big-time graders could maybe run their movie through something like this and get it to an "acceptable" state - getting skin tones to look right and so on, then add their own simple grading on-top. I think that'd be a really cool application for this!

Thanks for sharing!

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Normally I'm against colourization of black and white films. I prefer their natural forms. If they keep that particular palette then I'd begrudgingly admit, you know, that's not too bad. Metropolis actually looked pretty good. I didn't think I'd like it, but it's good! :)

I had this flash of taking classically vintage B&W films and almost technicolour flash brilliance shades. I wouldn't care for that, even though I like old technicolour movies for what they are.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Cool. Now they should try different shades of color other than this palette. Filters! yes they are called filters!

For example, higher contrast video filters. More color. Dynamic colors.

Then you can have noir filters too.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Colorizing old b/w movies is appalling.

This has been happening for years. I won't watch them, much less purchase them as "improved."

The idea of watching a colorized version of The Lodger (1944) or The Island of Lost Souls (1933) gives me the shakes.

Film noir as film pastel?

Any palette used would not be the choice of the original film makers; it would be a corruption of their artistic intent.

If others prefer turning them into designer watercolors that is their choice. My only fear is that once the mutilation occurs, the original will be locked away and disappear forever.

What's next? Giving a day-glo do-over to Van Gogh's Starry Night?

And This, Too, Shall Pass Away

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

I could not agree more. It's a disgraceful desecration of the talents of the directors who made the films initially in black-and-white, utilizing their craftsmanship and artistry to convey their visions in that particular and powerful visual format.

I hope this "trend" does not persist. But I hoped that digital wouldn't persist either, and it has not only persisted, it has prevailed.

My strong belief, as a filmmaker and as a human being, is that just because one can doesn't mean that one should.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

^^^

"I AM El Señor Fernando PÓO (💩)!!!!".

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

It just would give people another option in how they want to view the movie. The traditional black and white option would still be available. I don't think the directors of these movies necessarily intended them to solely be viewed in black and white, they just happened to be limited by the technology at the time.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Of course, you are right about giving people an option, and to each his own in their viewing choices. That said, you are mistaken in your feeling that the directors didn't intend for their films to be viewed in black-and-white. That was the tool they were using at the time and the techniques for using that tool in terms of lighting in particular are quite different from those used in color (there are similarities, of course, but the differences are quite profound). With less than stellar films, it may not make make much difference to most people. But with cinematic masterpieces like Lang's Metropolis I do believe that it's a desecration of the filmmaker's art to transfer those works to weakly saturated color versions. I think it's a little like repainting the Mona Lisa in black and white. So I'll always stick with the artist's original version, because I know that no transformation will ever equal the artistry of the original work.

But as I said, to each his own.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

I could not agree more. It's a disgraceful desecration of the talents of the directors who made the films initially in black-and-white, utilizing their craftsmanship and artistry to convey their visions in that particular and powerful visual format.

I hope this "trend" does not persist. But I hoped that digital wouldn't persist either, and it has not only persisted, it has prevailed.

My strong belief, as a filmmaker and as a human being, is that just because one can doesn't mean that one should.

exactly. And you stated it in the nicest way possible when I could not have. I remember when a topic like this was mentioned ten years ago on the IMDb messages boards. I objected to colorizing all black and white movies in general but couldn't find the right words to express why that process stops the innate beauty the filmmaker put into making the movie. It just doesn't transfer to that color format. I wouldn't mind seeing the original director use AI technology to colorized their original black and white film. If it can be done without losing integrity, then I wouldn't object as much. Although just as you so intelligently just stated, I also prefer keeping the purity and integrity of films originally filmed in black and white by leaving it as is. Does that make any sense?

https://youtu.be/iPUwtyZglQI

https://youtu.be/QRTNm6GLJYI

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

🙂 Absolutely.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies…

^^^

"I AM El Señor Fernando PÓO (💩)!!!!".

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies…

What about when filmmakers do the opposite and take color movies and turn them to black and white?

For example the director of Parasite (2019) has now released a black and white version, or how George Miller released a black and white version of Mad Max: Fury Road, after the color version.

So is it appalling when filmmakers do the opposite?

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies…

While I probably wouldn't enjoy the films as much as seeing them in their original versions, at least in these cases the transformations were done by the filmmakers themselves, so no, I don't think it's appalling (maybe a little incomprehensible, but not appalling, because they are working on their own art).

But taking the works of other directors no longer alive and changing them – from b & w to color being a much harder task, by the way, than color to b & w – is appalling to me, especially with masterpieces like Metropolis, which Fritz Lang worked so hard to create in black and white.

(That said, it would be interesting to know why Bong Joon Ho and George Miller are going to black and white with their films. Have to wonder why they didn't shoot them that way in the first place. Maybe it had to do with financing. Or maybe they were just exploring their creativity.)

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Well said and AMEN!



Schrodinger's Cat walks into a bar, and doesn't! 😸

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

I agree with this in that I prefer B&W originals.

But in some cases, I think a CHOICE as long as they don't remove the CHOICE. I'd hate to lose the beauty of the original film. I'm more of a classic film buff and appreciate the black and white original version as they were created.

Some of the palettes chosen above, however, were very subtle, and as such, not too bad and an acceptable option (that's it, just an option) to perhaps even bring in new viewers to some classic films.

I'd prefer they not be tampered with as well, but if they are, it appears they're keeping things very muted to match the age and era.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

The 50th Anniversary Edition of 20 Million Miles to Earth comes with a "chromachoice" key that allows you to toggle between the original b/w and the colorized versions.

Ray Harryhausen does the commentary and approved the colorizing. His participation in making the movie gives him leverage to choose the palette, which is not the case with those who probably weren't even alive in 1956.

It's an interesting experiment that gives both sides of the issue a chance to compare the results. I don't know of any other dvd release that does this, nor would I want it to become a trend. Just thinking of "chromachoice" versions of Double Indemnity and The Uninvited is enough to bring on depression.

And This, Too, Shall Pass Away

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

One thing about the colorized clip of Metropolis… Why is there orange light shining on Rotwang? It looks like the sun, like it's dawn or dusk.

But isn't Rotwang working in a building with no windows? So why does it look like the sun, if there are no windows?

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Many films benefit from being in Black & White, It can help heighten Gothic atmosphere in movies like the universal monster movies and the make up may look worse in colour too. The Elephant Man is better in B/W it helps reinforce the old time Victorian era vibe and makes the movie less "colourful" and more depressing, which it should be as it's that type of film.


I'd be more interested in having B/W versions of some coloured films than the other way around maybe some of the period pieces could benefit from it but having a bad B/W film turned to colour won't save the film neither will making a bad colour film B/W, what truly matters at the end of the day is plot, character, writing, performances, cinematography, music etc. The colour of the film is very low down on that list of relevance.


I do not personally want colour versions of B/W movies and I think the ones in the video look terrible (skin tone etc.) but if every B/W movie had a coloured version I wouldn't care as long as not a single one replaces the B/W and it remains an option for me just as easily available as the coloured version.


Imagine if they colourised the lighthouse in the future, how odd, everything like the aspect ratio, performances etc. would be trying to establish an "old timey" feel but the colour wouldn't, you'd think why not just make this B/W? help get that vibe even stronger. B/W films are a lot like vegetables everyone who's never tried them is convinced they don't like them.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

Overall I agree with this sentiment and would much prefer we don't fix what isn't broken. I like black and white cinema exactly as it is.

That being said I do like "technicolour" or "colourized" movies that were presented in that fashion initially. They are nostalgic for me.

That also being said, if it came out in black & white, I'd like to keep it that way for the most part, and especially to keep that option.

The only reason I brought up colourizing SOME of the B&W pictures was ONLY if they used that particular pallet (you'll see it uses very dated and vintage hues, not bright, vibrant, technicolour hues, which would be dreadful), but that if on a few certain classics, just the OPTION was made available, it might make some films appeal to a younger generation who just flat out refuses to engage themselves in B&W movies. I don't understand that reasoning, but it might be a generational thing.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

I'm generation Z and as you already know am a fan of lot's of B/W movies, I also know of some others my age who are too, my 83 year old grandmother however is the only person I know that flat out refused to watch old silent movies, while my teenaged friend give one a chance once so of course it comes down to the individual.


Everyone in my parent's generation in my family has a basis against old everything it doesn't even have to be B/W if it's more than 10 years old they don't want anything to do with it. I still think it's older people on average who are more likely to be willing to watch B/W than younger and the problem of B/W being neglected will only get worse with time as more and more coloured films come out and make it even more lopsided.


When you say you don't mind "technicolour" or "colourized" movies that were presented that way originally, do you mean released that way? as in you don't mind films that started off in colour remaining that way? Because if that's the case, I wanna make it clear I fully agree, tons of my favourite movies of all time are in colour and I want to keep them that way too in fact lot's of them would be worse films in B/W. I just wanna keep everything the way it was upon release, whether that be colour or B/W, it doesn't matter. Preserve it.

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

But… why? Black and white has its charm with old movies.

"You're a disease, and I'm the cure!" - Marion "Cobra" Cobretti

Re: AI is being used to color black and white movies

This is what I wrote in my post above the one you replied to:


The only reason I brought up colourizing SOME of the B&W pictures was ONLY if they used that particular pallet (you'll see it uses very dated and vintage hues, not bright, vibrant, technicolour hues, which would be dreadful), but that if on a few certain classics, just the OPTION was made available, it might make some films appeal to a younger generation who just flat out refuses to engage themselves in B&W movies. I don't understand that reasoning, but it might be a generational thing.
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