Improve historical photos and videos: New shine for very old pictures


General Sherman puts his right hand under his jacket like Napoleon. The man, who was as famous as notorious for his scorched earth strategy in the American Civil War, is the tough conqueror – the reddish beard, which is already a little gray, is carefully trimmed, the deep brown eyes scowl towards the horizon.

The photo, taken around 1860, looks almost frighteningly lifelike, because the Brazilian graphic artist Marina Amaral has used digital means to breathe new life into it. New artificial intelligence processes make it possible.

Children deliver vegetables to be sold in a Boston market. The picture, restored and colored by DeOldify, looks almost idyllic in color. In fact, it was covertly recorded between 1908 and 1912 by American sociologist Lewis Hine to document the extent of child labor in the United States and to get Congress to pass a child labor law.

(Image: DeOldify)

Amaral is one of the stars in the Living History group on the Reddit online platform. Professionals like her, but also committed amateurs, have been posting historical photos that have been lovingly restored and colored on the computer for years. But rapid advances in machine learning could soon overshadow this work: Companies such as DeOldify or use neural networks to clean not only photos but also historical films of scratches, flickering and wobbling, down to 60 To extrapolate images per second and 4K resolution and recolor them fully automatically.

  • Access to all heise + content
  • exclusive tests, advice & background: independent, critically well-founded
  • c’t, iX, Technology Review, Mac & i, Make, c’t Fotografie direkt im Browser lesen
  • register once – read on all devices – can be canceled monthly
  • first month free, then 9.95 € per month
  • Weekly newsletter with personal reading recommendations from the editor-in-chief

Start FREE month

Start your FREE month now

Already subscribed to heise +?

Sign up and read

Register now and read articles right away

More information about heise +

To home page