A historical film restoration editor has compiled, repaired, and colorized 22 minutes of nearly a century-old footage showing the construction of the Empire State Building.
Rick88888888 aka RickFilmRestoration is the Leidschendam, Netherlands-based editor who has been restoring film for over 15 years. He fills his channel with a historical film that dates mainly back to before World War II. Much of this footage has been digitized using an older scanning technology that has lowered the quality of the footage, but Rick says modern software is able to bring back much of what was lost in this transition and add more.
It uses motion stabilization, speed correction, noise reduction, and dust removal methods along with other editing techniques. Rick also uses artificial intelligence software to colorize and upgrade the footage to allow these older films to appreciate modern audiences.
The movie Empire State Building
Rick says his movie about the construction of the Empire State Building, which was spotted recently squid laughs, is a collection of restored, enhanced, and color film footage showing the building’s construction that took place nearly a century ago. It shows how the base of the building is laid, how all the parts are produced in nearby steelwork, and how the steel parts are fastened together. The film also shows the dangers of working at high altitudes from construction, especially at the time, as well as the completeness of the structure.
What not many people know is that the Empire State Building was built on the spot where the famous first version of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel was on Fifth Avenue (opened in 1897). In 1931 the hotel reopened at a new location on Park Avenue, Rick says. “The Empire State Building began demolishing the hotel on January 22, 1930, after which actual construction began on March 7, 1930. It was completed in record speed just 13.5 months later on April 11, 1931 and officially opened in May. 1, 1931.”
Rick notes that the building was designed in the Art Deco style and was 381 meters (1,250 feet) high and 102 floors.
“Achieving such a height was only possible due to the use of a steel frame,” says Rick. “As an important symbol of New York City, the building has been named one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.”
Rick cites the source of his footage as Archive.org. While the passages here are not rare per se because they are publicly available, the way they appear after his corrections is at least unusual and unique.
Some historians refuse to color
Coloring is seen as a way to make historical shots interesting to modern audiences and make it easier for them to appreciate them. But some historians see no merit in this.
In October of 2020, several prominent historians spoke out against coloration and argued that adding color, movement, or framing departs from the original intent of the capture. They said removing dust, scratches, and blemishes while adding color supposedly obscures the past rather than highlighting it.
“The problem with coloring is that it leads people to just think of photographs as sort of an uncomplicated window into the past, which is not what photographs are,” said Emily McKiernan Mark Fitzgerald, associate professor in the Dublin University School of Art History, University of Dublin Cultural Policy .
“It’s nonsense,” said Luke McKiernan, Senior Curator of News and Motion Pictures at the British Library. “Coloring does not bring us closer to the past. It increases the gap now and then. It does not enable immediacy; it creates difference.”