View Full Version : Colourising b&w videos?

13th December 2014, 12:47 AM

For a while I've been thinking about trying my hand at adding colour to an old b&w tv show... Of course, purely for my own waste of time/enjoyment.

I know recently a 25min episode of such a show was "restored" to colour by painting frame by frame - in this case, the colour print was lost, but b&w remained, and basically 1 guy spent about 1 year painting the colour back on!

25 frames per second
60 seconds per minute
37,500 frames...

I know there are very expensive software/hardware devices to do this process, but I was wondering if there was anything remotely "non professional" (and non expensive) that could achieve even basic results?

Failing that.... Using Final Cut or Adobe, is there a way to at least generate key frames and reduce the individual frames that require colouring?

Just curious...



31st December 2014, 07:30 PM
You have a lot of time on your hands. Not sure what you mean by reduce individual frames that require colouring. Are you meaning a couple of seconds footage at a time? Will think about the rest as you have made me curios.

1st January 2015, 12:17 AM
Well, basically I was wondering if there was either software that tracked objects, so you tell it once, and then the colour follows that object... Or, even using keyframes or something...

1st January 2015, 05:06 PM
That's how Ted Turner and his people colourised a lot of movies - using software - colour a particular area once and the software tracks it through multiple frames. I'm not sure what software they used.

The results were almost universally panned though. I think I saw Key Largo in colour and it looked ok to me, but I always thought "why?"

An interesting exercise though.

3rd January 2015, 01:58 PM
I have to admit to being a heathen who didn't see Casablanca until about 2006 when I went to Uni... If I'd known then about Ted's colourised version, I think I'd have wanted to see it, rather than the original :innocent: But after seeing the original, I don't have any desire now to see the B&W.

However... after seeing Babelcolour's efforts on YouTube, and Mind of Evil 1, I'd love to see some B&W Doctor Who in colour... Apparently they considered colourising the first ever story - An Unearthly Child - for the 50th Anniversary last year, but didn't have time/money.

After recently deciding I am a masochist in need of a project, I thought I could try and add some colour to one of my favourite 2nd Doctor stories - The Mind Robber. One bonus in choosing that story is that some of the story is set in a b&w void (though I'd still want to treat it in some way - somehow I don't think simply desaturated colour footage is the same as black & white footage... In addition, basically the entire world/characters are fictional, and as such I feel that whilst skin tones may still need to look like skin tones, there is a wide scope for the rest of the colour palette...