As the story goes, when a 19th-century Parisian audience was shown the first-ever moving picture of a train, they themselves were moved to get the hell out of the way fearing the locomotive would burst through the screen Looney Tunes-style. Today, it's hard to imagine anyone could be tricked into thinking such rickety, grainy footage was real life. But to get a better sense of the trembling wonderment our ancestors felt, one YouTuber has upgraded the film to suit our high-def streaming sensibilities and did so by using our own generations' most terrifying audiovisual tech: neural networks.
Until now, upscaling old flicks to look like modern, high definition movies was a long and arduous labor of love. But unlike grand attempts like They Shall Not Grow Old or 2011's recolorization of Le Voyage Dans La Lune, Denis Shiryaev didn't spend years trying to remaster L'arrivee d'un Train en Gare de La Ciotat by cinema pioneers Auguste and Louis Lumiere to resemble a modern cinematic masterpiece. Instead, he tasked some neural networks to quickly transform it into a twitchy 4K, 60 FPS video that makes it look like the Lumieres shot it on their iPhone for their YouTube channel, except it doesn't end with a call-to-action from Louis to smash that like button before autoplaying a reaction video by Georges Melies.
To achieve this, Shiryaev merely employed two commercially available neural networks, DAIN and Topaz Labs' Gigapixel AI, which can enhance/invent details to both improve the quality and triple the framerate much like the motion smoothing tech on your parents' TV that makes Grey's Anatomy look like a waking nightmare. The result is one of the most naturalistic looks into the past we've ever witnessed. At least, if you believe that in the past some women were secret mummies -- like the neural network assumes from anyone wearing a white bonnet.
But using neural networks to unscramble caveman movies has an irony to it. After all, they're the 21st-century version of a runaway movie train, causing us to be scared of our screens. Not because of the small chance it would've turned that train into a tentacled monstrosity with a million eyes, but because deepfake neural networks are the very tech that will cause our generation to no longer be able to trust what is coming out of our screens.
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