In modern society, technological innovations are doing wonders in every aspect of life. The YouTube community is using “artificial intelligence (AI)” to put colors in the historical images. For instance, the YouTube channel of Shirayev uses different techniques (mixture of “neural networks” and “algorithms”) to put color in the black and white historical images. There are two schools of thought related to using this innovative technique to modify the historical images to 4K resolution. One school of thought is in favor of restoring and colorizing historical images and footage and another school of thought is against this. This persuasive essay tends to explicate both sides of the argument and takes a stance in favor of using this technology to bring back the past to life.
The latest technology used to colorize these historical images have a massive impact on the viewers of the YouTube channel. As stated in the respective article, Shirayev uses this technique to “clean, repair, colorize, corrected to 60 frames per second, and upscale the surviving historical films to vivid 4K resolution” in his YouTube channel. As asserted in the article, the YouTube community, and people like Elizabeth Peck (Shirayev’s colleague), the conversion of the historical images to 4K resolution have made viewers feel as if they are living through the past again. The viewers and commenters of Shirayev’s YouTube channel feel this upscaling of historical images as if they are time traveling through the past.
On the other hand, many historians and critics have opposed this technology of adding color to black and white historical images. According to historians, upscaling and modernizing these historical images have elucidated various problems. While upscaling these historical images have lost their originality and do not show the true colors of the past. According to the historical critic Emily Mark-FitzGerald, these 4K upscale images do not justify as the “window onto the past”. The colorization of these historical photographs gives a modern touch to it rather than bringing it to life in its original form. The number of extra frames added to the historical movies to make it smooth is also new. These historical images are tampered with, inaccurate, and improvised according to modern taste.
According to my point of view, these upscale images are more relatable and grasp our attention towards the story behind these historical images. As stated in the article, there is an immense difference between “restoration and enhancement”. Digital artists like Shirayev’s company “Neural love and DeOldify” do not modify or change these photographs. They restore these old photographs by restoration process and colorizing tools As far as the accuracy of these colorized images is concerned, Neural Love claims that these photographs are not “historically accurate”. They have made “best guess estimation” while restoring and colorizing these historical archives.
In a nutshell, the restoration and colorization of these historical collections (movies and photographs) have created a strong connection of the present with the past. Though historians are highly against this upscaling technique complaining that the historical archives are losing their originality and significance. This process makes these historical archives more intense and relatable. It is more like an adaptation process of the old images. (Nast)
Nast, Condé. “YouTubers Are Upscaling the Past to 4K. Historians Want Them to Stop.” Wired UK. www.wired.co.uk, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/history-colourisation-controversy. Accessed 25 Nov. 2021.