Is AI Upscaling The New Colorization of Our Generation?

For some background before we start, here is some shit to watch:

K, thats some helpful background. Now on with the show.

I came across something this week that messed with my head a little. My favorite Star Trek has always been Deep Space 9. This week: this showed up in my youtube recommendations:

I have spent a good chunk of energy being against any alterations from any original. Whether it be colorization or special editions. Always give me the original.

However, this gave me pause and kind of freaked me out a little. This is a show that was shot for $5 and TNG’s leftovers. Shot for NTSC. The only time the show ever looked good was on a CRT television broadcasting live on UPN. And generally speaking, thats how I expected to see it forever.

Now I am confronted with this….and I am…..very torn.

I am one of those giant movie nerds who is against alterations. You see it how it was originally meant to be seen and too bad.

Generally, the upscales I have seen prior to this seem….excessive… example:

Definitely not what the Lumiere’s were thinking when they made this.

You do in fact lose something in that kind of upscaling. It looks…unnatural. Not at all the kind of texture we had available at the time.

But thinking about this, I am reminded of a conversation that I had in an intro film class I took in college. The bros in there hated the Lumiere product. Mostly because, it didn’t look like anything they recognized. It was hand cranked, so the frame rate is inconsistent. The film stock was over 100 years old so it looked grainy and difficult to access.

Now….do they need something like this to be able to access it? Said differently, would they be more interested in the product of the Lumiere’s, to the point where they could watch things in a less high definition format if they saw something upscaled first? I dont know…

We live in an age where we no longer have to accept the quality of any original. Where we can just improve the format its shot with a touch of a button.

And to be honest, I am torn. Similar technology resurrected Harold Ramis from the dead. And I am very clear that we don’t really need that.

But now we are in a place where the technology is so good, or becoming so good, where…its hard to keep up the fight. Where something that was intended to look better (see DS9 above) can now look like it was shot on HD. Plus I know I am losing the fight here. People seem to be fine with raising actors from the dead, just like they will probably be fine with the CG upscaling.

Like I have to be honest, those DS9 clips look great. And if the tech is this good, i would sure as shit like to see that old stuff I like get upscaled, as long as it looks this good.

I was having this discussion with a few people this week and I mentioned Metropolis. The film that, in my opinion, more than any other has been chopped up, tinted, redone, and messed up so many ways that its difficult to figure out what we even have at this point.

Well, that is already targeted. Someone did it to the Kino trailer.

Do I fight this? Do I hate it? Is it just another change in the long line of changes that have happened to this film over its close to a century lifespan?

I think what I am getting at is that I am hanging up the #nochanges hat. I think I am just tired of fighting the tide. No one seems to be destroying the originals. So, the super film nerds like me will still have the best restoration prints we can get, pre-AI touch.

In a way, I suppose, everyone wins with this. You get people who grow up in a generation where they expect everything in crystal clear HD to see this older stuff that way. Maybe you get a new audience.

And nerds like me get shit that was shot on video upscaled into clean glory?

I guess I am saying that the war is over. I will take what comes from the AI overlords. Keep what I want and move on. I just hope this power is not used for evil. I hope anyway…

I reserve the right to completely reverse my opinion when someone makes some real fucked up shit.

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