Video: Photo Restoration and Colorization Demonstrated Through a Time-Lapse

Digital image editing technology — culturally controversial uses aside — has enabled us to do some pretty amazing things. In the past, we shared a video that showed how the Internet came together to restore a WWII veteran’s Navy photo to its former glory.

This time, we get to see the process in action, as Redditor thehatersalad shows us the impressive restoration and colorization work he did on an old photo of user f2ISO100‘s grandmother — time-lapse style.

The actual process took some two to two and a half hours, but in the video above we get to see it all take place in just over seven minutes. From fixing the cracks and creases, to basically re-creating her arms, to the colorization process, the video covers it all.

Here’s the before and after:


As you might expect, his work didn’t go unappreciated. “I don’t know what kind of emotion you hope to elicit with these, but you made me catch my breath,” said f2ISO100 when she saw the final product. “I feel — for the first time — like I got to see her, back in time. This is so, so beautiful. Thank you so much!”

In addition to the gratitude he gets for doing this kind of work, for thehatersalad, taking on project like this is also simply about getting in the practice. To see more of his work, check out his Reddit profile and browse through some of the other things he’s submitted to r/colorization.

  • Darian Smith

    wow! i love hearing about stories like this!

  • Malcolm Ruthven

    I prefer the original version.

  • Julien

    It gives the impression that he removed scratches, but added dirt… it’s strange… Also, too much contrast.

  • Martin Doms

    Why did he make her dirty?

  • blanco nino

    needed some blur


    COME ON, why did this get viral ? The work is basic! He didn’t even duplicate his layers, nor worked non-destructively. Quite amateurish if I may say.

    The end result’s contrast is too high, while the shirt and face are still looking damaged : you can even guess the scratch across her forehead.

    No really, there’s so many good colorists out there, that this going viral just doesn’t make sense. The author himself apologized in the comment for the low quality and quick editing, justifying that it’s just “free work” for reddit.

    The good part is the song choice, though.

  • Duke Harding

    Probably went viral, because most people have no idea how to restore and colorize… Kind of like watching a magician… If you’re not a magician, everything looks like magic… Same with photo retoration… I think restoring film is a lot tougher. I liked the music, also.


    Fair enough.

  • bgrady413

    I think it looks great, good results from both the work and the time lapse video.

  • sikdave

    I think you did a great job mate, I’ve been retouching for 10 years. There’s always going to be haters and purists saying that someone else can do it better, esp when your video gets lots of attention. Who gives a s**t, really? It’s about fulfilling the needs of the client not about being better than anyone else, and you clearly did that very well. Keep it up!

  • Westley Evers

    ok I understand tones from B&W shots as much as any other photographer that has spent a few too many hours in the darkroom but how in the world do you know which colors her shirt, background, and other items were?

    I look at the tones and I know blues and red give off very tones in B&W but I just cant see how he knew each color specifically! did someone tell him?