Modern TVs and Blu-ray players can upscale older videos to a higher resolution, making them better in the process. But 1080p video upscaled to 4K will never look as good as native 4K video. Then again, never say never. Someone took a video filmed in 1986 and upscaled it to 4K resolution at 60 fps, and it looks gorgeous.
The 1896 film L’arrivée d’un train en gare de La Ciotat, or The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station, was in some ways far ahead of its time. The filmmakers, Auguste and Louis Lumière, employed several cinematic techniques, using a mixture of forced perspective, long shot, medium shot, close-up, in one long continuous shot. It shows a mundane event, the arrival of a train, but gives us an excellent glimpse into the past.
Later, the filmmakers went back and reshot the film to show it in 3D! One has to wonder if they charged three-times the price just to see that special effect like some theaters we know.
Ultimately, though, the film is still a product of its time and technology. The cameras of the day didn’t have near the capability that even our basic smartphones do now. So naturally, parts of the film are washed out and grainy, the resolution is very low, and you’ll miss out on details. Check it out:
A YouTuber changed all that, thanks to the use of deep neural networks. Denis Shiryaev used techniques pioneered by Topaz Labs and Google to increase the frames per second and the resolution. In the updated video, you can see details that weren’t clearly visible before, like a town in the distance and the buttons on a gentleman’s coat.
Watch the original above and then compare with the updated results:
The difference is nothing short of incredible. The original film is silent (as were all films at the time), so Denis added audio to enhance the final effect. He also mentioned the intention to attempt a colorized version of the film as well. Keep an eye out for that video. You can check out some of his other upscaling attempts at his channel.