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How to Colorize Black and White Photos from Classical Cinema

Blanca J. Steele

2020-11-13 09:39:15

An avid cinephile knows no bounds when it comes to digging through the film industry. There is a kind of unconditional love. He can see a movie 5 times with different eyes and not get bored. He can still discover new things about the actors who made history or about the directors who revolutionized the cinema universe. Classic movies transcend time; oldies but goldies, right?

 

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Although I don't like to make comparisons, because every cinematic era is beautiful in its own way, I think that classic films have a special charm, an absolutely adorable nostalgia. Not to mention the profoundness of the story, acting or scenography. I really love black and white old movies from the 20`s – 50`s and I've always wondered what my favorite scenes really looked like. So I started a quest, in order to revitalize some stills.

I searched all over the internet for the perfect tool that can help me to see the original colors. At the end of the research, I found the perfect solution: Colourise.com. Even if I was skeptical at first, to my amazement, I discovered that this tool is like a wizard’s wand. My wish came true. I am really excited about this online tool because it is free, easy to use and the results are pretty amazing.

 

Pull the Black and White Curtain Aside. How is That possible?

 

As I said, for me, the charm of old black and white movies is priceless, but that doesn't mean I'm not curious about their original colors. If you are like me, then this article is for you. You will find out how to colorize black and white photos without any effort: smooth and easy. The most important aspect is that it won`t cost you a penny and this will not compromise the accuracy of the result.

 

For several years now, a new AI technology is booming. It is possible to revive a black and white photo through a tool that uses artificial intelligence technology called deep learning. This machine learning simulates the human neural network, in order to predict the colors more realistically and precisely. The Colourise.com developers turned their full attention towards a technology based on Generative Adversarial Networks ( GANs).

 

Basically, a GAN contains two networks, one is generative and one is discriminative. The generator network will fool the discriminator by producing realistic values that the discriminative network cannot recognize as being fake.  The discriminator is based on a dataset of countless photographs both in color and in black and white, so this network learns to recognize different characteristics that indicate how a photo should be colored. After a deep training of the discriminator network about identifying realistic colors and rejecting unrealistic ones, the purpose of the generator is to make an accurate prediction.  

So now let`s move straight to the point.

 

How to Colorize Stills from Classical Cinema?

 

In this section, you will learn how to use this AI powerful tool. As you will notice, we are dealing with an extremely intuitive online software: just a few clicks & steps, with extremely plausible results. I made a top 5 of the most visually stunning black and white movies of all time and I will extract some stills, in order to do my Sherlock Holmes job.

 

1.  Access Colourise.com

To begin, visit the official website Colourise.com. The interface is simple, straightforward and you don’t need to make an account. Of course, you can go directly to the upload black and white photos page.

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2. Upload a Photo

At the bottom of the page, click on “Start Now”.

 

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After this, you will be redirected to the upload black and white photos page.

 

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Click “Upload” to choose a file from your computer. Or, drag and drop a photo of your choice into the image frame. Make sure that the image format is .jpg, .jpeg or .png at a maximum resolution of 1200x1200px, up to 5MB.

 

3.  Colorizing & Downloading Your Photos

Colorizing a photo typically takes just a few seconds and you need to download the picture within 30 minutes. Don’t forget that the tool is free and you have no limit on the number of photos or hours spent on their site.

Now let`s see the evidence. Also, I highly recommend seeing these cinematic masterpieces. It will broaden your horizons.

1. Citizen Kane (1941), directed by Orson Welles, a great film that took a step forward in film language through new techniques in picture making and storytelling. A complex story about greed, money and power.

 

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2. Eraserhead (1977), a surrealist film directed by David Lynch. One of the decade`s most influential and unforgettable movies.

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3. Tokyo Story (1953), a masterpiece of Japanese cinema about the sadness and serenity of the human condition, directed by Yasujirō Ozu.

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4. Metropolis (1927), under the steady hand of director Fritz Lang. A film with complex and great creative special effects about a futuristic city utopia.

 

5. Sunrise: A song of two humans (1927), a beautiful romantic drama directed by F.N. Murnau.

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I am pretty satisfied with the colors that the tool has revealed. Now I am looking at my favorite films from another perspective. I`m curious what movies you`d like to see in color. Maybe noir films or contemporary monochrome films like Schindler's List (1993) or The Artist (2011)?

 

Conclusion/Impressions

The technology behind colorizing photos automatically is amazing, but it isn’t perfect. However, this tool, Colorize.com, made me enjoy bringing my favorite stills from classical cinema to life.  It is quite impressive since it is free unlike many others sites. This kind of technology goes through a constant process of evolution and I am sure that it will become more accurate in a few years. In the meantime, I will take full advantage of this online photo colorizer. I recommend you give it a try and enjoy the color spectrum that can come from black and white photos.

 

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