AI turns Chaplin classic into a 3D movie – and you can watch it with your Meta Quest
A London-based startup uses AI to add depth to 2D movies. With Meta Quest 2, you can watch a fully converted classic film.
Joff Summerfield and Jesse Seaward have developed a method for converting 2D movies into 3D movies using AI. They now show what this looks like using Charlie Chaplin's 1917 silent movie classic "The Immigrant".
If you own a Meta Quest 2, you can watch the film in 3D on Youtube. I tried it out and found the effect impressive. Especially when you realize that the footage is more than a hundred years old. The 3D conversion is almost flawless.
"We think that the experience of watching Charlie Chaplin up close and personal puts the viewer in a different world to watching it on the TV at home," says Jesse Seaward, co-founder of the startup Reallife3D.
3D conversions with AI: Almost automated
A "unique cocktail of processes based in artificial intelligence" was used in the 3D conversion, according to Seaward. With the 3D conversion, the duo wants to show how artificial intelligence can help enhance and modernize old films. But modern footage can also benefit from the process, adding value in the metaverse context.
Seaward says that "nearly every process" is automated. The human work, he says, is in relaying the files and picking the right processes, which depend on the nature of the source material. The full 3D conversion of the 24-minute film took about ten days, he says, with the processing accounting for most of it.
The team is currently looking for partners who want their content converted. Also and especially for VR.
"Converting video like this is so much more time and cost effective than traditional methods, it opens the door to different markets and content creators," Seaward says. "We hope it might help encourage more people to put more of their content on immersive platforms, so we're always working on the process to improve accuracy and efficiency to ultimately make it more viable and accessible."
From single frames to video
I had written about RealLife3D in late 2021 after stumbling across their YouTube channel. At the time, the duo was converting old photographs into stereoscopic images and enhancing them with soundscapes and music. The result: fascinating 3D time travels. Now they are taking it a step further with automated 3D video conversion.
"Since 2021 we have been working on going from processing single images to multiples where it has become viable to convert video. There are huge hurdles to jump when going from making a single image 3D that is viewed one at a time to thousands that have to match perfectly, even if the basic principle is the same," Seaward says.
The Chaplin film is currently available on Reallife3D's YouTube channel and can be viewed in 3D using YouTube VR and Meta Quest 2. The duo is thinking about using new distribution channels such as Meta Quest TV in the future.
More information about Reallife3D can be found on the official website.