History Photography

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A Digital Conversion Miraculously Clarifies a Historic 1896 Film to Look Like It Was Shot Yesterday

February 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

The left image is from the original film, and the right is from Denis Shiryaev’s remaking

Denis Shiryaev has found a way to clarify the world’s earliest films and their signature grainy textures. He transformed the historic 1896 The Arrival of a Train at La Ciotat Station into a 50-second film that suddenly reveals distinct faces of the passengers scrambling to get on the train, in addition to details on the locomotive that otherwise were undistinguishable in the original version. According to Peta Pixel, Shiryaev first used Topaz Lab’s Gigapixel AI to upgrade the film’s resolution to 4K, followed by Google’s DAIN, which he used to create and add frames to the original file, bringing it to 60 frames per second.

Made in France, the 35 mm film bears a legend stating that the first viewers of the silent production were so frightened by the moving train that they all ran out of the room. It was created with an all-in-one camera that served as a printer and projector. Watch the original black-and-white video shown below, and then Shiryaev’s remaking underneath.

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