Colorized 19th and early century videos

There is this channel that I subscribe to which colorizes old videos. It makes the place look more real somehow than
black and white versions

When I look at the kids, I wonder how many died in the trenches. How many of these bright-eyed boys fell at the Marne, Verdun or on the Somme. Its 14 years till the start of the First World War. The kids of 1900 would be prime fighting age in 1914-1918.

They have other videos. NSFW warning for the channel (though not the above video) since they have also colorized some old erotica, Though its rather tame by modern standards.

(1) Nineteenth century videos. Back to life. - YouTube

I find just the opposite, to me colourised versions look too much like modern re-creations, specially as the colourising is rarely totally realistic

Which is why I said “real” not “realistic”. Though the later is subjective and also from 19th century original pictures and films I have seen, wasn’t so those people cared about much.

the pic above is 0one of the better attempts I’ve seen

It’s probably been mentioned on the Dope before, but I was impressed by the Prokudin-Gorskii Collection of color photos of the Russian Empire, all taken between 1905 and 1915. They aren’t arbitrarily recolored black-and-white pics, they were actually taken in color at the time, and they are, frankly, amazing:

Below the main title graphic (“The Empire That Was Russia”), look for a “sections” menu to find several different categories of pictures. This is a nice set of highlights, but they’re only part of a much larger collection.

Very cool video. I like this stuff.

I made a similar post a few months ago almost a year and a half ago?!? Wow …of a video I found of 1908 San Francisco, just 4 days before the earthquake struck. Like you, I wondered at the fates of those people on the street going about their business, with no idea what was about to befall them.

I thought the frame-smoothing and colorization of the 1908 SF video were very well done, although the frame smoothing results in some weird artifacts, like wagon wheels that don’t appear to turn properly- they sort of stutter back and forth. The added sounds of wagon wheels on the street, horses whinnying and car horns honking give it ambience and adds to the feeling of being there.

I love those sites! The colorized videos and still photos, too. Who cares if the color is not exact? It just makes those old pictures seem more realistic. Especially when the video speed is “corrected” to match actual motion. The ambient background sounds also add to the realism.

I think all of those things, too…

I do a lot of genealogy and colorizing photo apps is all the rage. Personally I’m not a fan. It adds information that was not there, in a way that leaves most people unaware that it’s mostly a qualified guess.

You know that a lot of those old movies were colorized at the time. Some poor schnooks had to go through the film, frame by frame, and add colors to each of the elements in them.

They did a very impressive job

Traditional colorization was indeed a best guess. The really good ones (like the classic movies TNT used to put out) were since they had the original costumes and notes so they could refer to them.

Modern day computers are able to translate the BW into real colour.

Only if they pay attention to the notes. I’ve read of cases where the information was there, but ignored.

Ray Harryhausen was annoyed by the colorized version of King Kong – owned by Turner’s company – because all the jungle plants were the same color and insufficient care had been taken with the colorization. (they also gave the grew light blue shirts, which should have been white, probably because it gave a colored variation). Harryhausen went on to oversee the colorization of the Merian C… Cooper version of She and of Korda’s The Shape of Things to Come.

I love seeing the old world in color. How can it not be realistic? Does anyone think black and white is realistic? I’ve never walked down a black and white street.

I understand kids today (kids = anyone young enough to be one of mine), having grown up in a world in which virtually every television show, movie, and still picture was presented in color, find black and white very offputting to the extent of unwatchable. Good. That’s as it should be. Taking the color out of the world and pretending it’s more authentic is grotesque. Sites like the OP linked to turn the people from zombies into real live humans that had an existence of their own.

I’ve heard that B&W photography, whether still or moving, is actually more challenging than color photography, especially when it comes to getting certain shades “right.” For example, white often does not photograph correctly, so anything that looks white, especially in old movies, was actually pink, whether it was walls, clothing, etc.

My favorite early color photography format is the Autochrome. The quality is amazing.

There’s an art to black and white, no question. Have a look at the graphics they used in black and white television in the early 1960s. They made great use of the scale of grays the black and white “palette” provided, creating interesting and even eye-catching images within the limits imposed by the medium.

It’s been argued by purists that colorizing movies like King Kong is wrong essentially because the film was tailored to the black and white screen, taking its cues from the engravings of Gustave Dore and other artists who worked in black and white and grisaille.

There’s no way to recover the real original colour from monochrome images - it either has to be based on a reference such as a description or preserved costume (as you mentioned), or best guess.

It’s an interesting bias we have where old should = black and white. When I see colorized film or photos from the time period in the OP I experience a bit of cognitive dissonance.

Um, Mom, the dishes can wait; the sunset can’t.

Country music isn’t my thing, but I heard this song once and liked the lyrics:

I said Grandpa what’s this picture here
It’s all black and white, and it ain’t real clear
Is that you there, he said yeah, I was eleven
And times were tough, back in thirty-five
That’s me and Uncle Joe just tryin’ to survive
A cotton farm, in the Great Depression
And if it looks like we were scared to death
Like a couple of kids just tryin’ to save each other
You shoulda seen it in color

This. When I watch the film in the OP, it “feels” like it’s a movie and the people are actors.