The YouTube video colouriser, NASS has turned to an old B&W film of London and added their magic to give it colour makeover letting us see London as it (might) have been at the time.

The footage includes Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, and Waterloo Station.

Apart from adding colour to the original source video, the YouTuber also boosted the frame rate so that the video is smoother, and also raised the image resolution to high-definition.

Colourising a video is a bit hit and miss, partly due to the technology applied, but also the source material itself can mislead the lighting and shading on objects. There’s also the issue that most authentic colour photos we have from the 1930s were themselves not realistic due to the limitations of early colour film.

That said, the video does give a good look at what a dirty polluted London would have looked like in the 1930s.

What’s needed now is smell-o-vision — maybe a jar of smells you can breathe in while watching the film and get that choking smell of coal smoke, horse shit, and heavy manufacturing that polluted London’s airs.


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  1. Kit Green says:

    Oh dear. Where to start?

    Frame rate.
    Why 60? I assume this is partly as the “restoration come bastardisation” is by an American outfit. They are used to old standard definition TV material having a refresh rate of about 60Hz and so probably think it a good idea to interpolate the original rate to 60 frames a second. What this does is make all movement look as if it was shot on a video camera, losing any feel for the original film. Most film was 24 fps and still looks fine when projected.

    The restorers do state that the colours are not historically accurate, but some very easy research would have told them what colours the buses and trains should be.
    In one section there is a pedestrian wearing what is now a blue suit. it looks so artificial that it reminds me of mid to late 20th century postcards with there rather fake looking colours.

    That is probably enough to show that I am not impressed. In any case I cannot the point. We are presented with fake film that in fact shows us nothing of use.

    I have worked in technical aspects of film and TV for a long time and think that colourisation is of no use at all.

    • ianVisits says:

      I don’t work in technical film and TV, but it still only took me a few minutes of reading a few online articles to understand why videos are boosted to 60fps, and as a hint, it’s nothing to do with your American-phobia.

    • Kit Green says:

      No America phobic stuff from me.

      Yes 60fps has its uses especially in sport and gaming.

      That does not make it universally better than a whole range of speeds that are good for other reasons including various motion effects that are commonly used to help drama and visual perception of movement.

      High frame rates do help prevent the old wagon wheel illusion.

  2. Christopher Antoniadis says:

    The dirty polluted London is the present 2022. This looks neat and tidy. Even the tarmac quality looks pristine. No rubbish on the floor, no buses clogging up the road.

  3. Unkown says:

    Too many cars and over population . Now the roads are horrible . Bring back more cycling and buses and get more cars off our roads .

  4. Simon Fisher says:

    Unknown: I agree hanging is too good for them, they should all be flogged publicly!

    Thanks for sharing this Ian, I found it fascinating and have no negative feedback I am afraid…sorry! I wonder if anyone recognised their parents or grand parents? I was taken by how many staff there were at Waterloo when the train arrived!!

    (Of course Unknown will tell you nowadays they would all be on strike!!!)

  5. Shell says:

    Not sure what, but part of the process has really messed up people’s faces. I felt like I was watching some nightmare scenario!

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