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Pornhub 'remastured' vintage porn films using AI colorizing technology

“Since the moment someone figured out how to record moving images, people have been making adult movies. We thought it was important to not only preserve but modernize these films.”

Pornhub

Pornhub has released "Remastured," a collection of vintage porn colorized using modern AI technology.
Pornhub

Pornhub, the second most popular porn site on the internet, has released a collection of vintage erotic films that have been colorized using artificial intelligence. Yes, really.

Called “Remastured” (NSFW link), the collection of twenty scenes transports viewers back in time to experience 20th century erotic films — but in full technicolor. The films date from the 1890s through the 1940s.

New frontiers — There already exist algorithms that can colorize old black and white films and images. People sometimes do this as a fun exercise to better imagine what, for example, the ‘70s-era streets of Brooklyn might have looked like. In layperson’s terms, an algorithm is fed sample data — like films and TV shows — to generalize what colors are typically associated with different objects (i.e. a fire hydrant is red). The algorithm is then fed a black and white image and colors everything in based on its learnings.

But Pornhub says that erotic films posed a unique challenge because existing algorithms used for colorizing aren’t typically trained on porn. “By introducing the AI to Pornhub's massive content library, it learned a naughty new trick; how to detect the subtle shades of penises, nipples, and turn-of-the-century bush.” Oh boy. Pornhub also upscaled the videos by adding more frames per second so the scenes wouldn’t feel so slow and jittery.

“Since the moment someone figured out how to record moving images, people have been making adult movies,” said Pornhub. “We thought it was important to not only preserve but modernize these films, and we are very excited to include this selection of artfully restored vintage material to our library, allowing users to indulge in old-school erotica from a bygone era.” At the very least, the scenes are interesting to look at in historical context, to see that people had the same fantasies in the past as they do in the present. They were just less open about it than people are today.

Keep in mind, colorizations are not a 100 percent accurate representation — we don’t know what the actual colors looked like. Think of it more as an adaptation of the original that transforms access and makes it easier to... imagine yourself in the scene.

Trying to do better — Pornhub launched in 2007 as the YouTube of adult films. And until recently, it functioned in much the same way, allowing anyone to upload videos, growing to more than 3 million in total. But unlike YouTube, it was slow to moderate what was being uploaded to its site. That changed last year when The New York Times published an explosive opinion piece documenting how Pornhub profited from hosting illegal content including non-consensual pornography and videos depicting minors.

In the aftermath of the controversy, Pornhub saw payments giants including Mastercard and Visa cut off services for the site. In response, it began requiring users’ verify their real identities in order to upload content, and recently released its first transparency report documenting its efforts to crack down on misbehavior. In 2020, Pornhub says more than 650,000 pieces of content were identified as potentially harmful and removed. That’s good news for everyone that still wants to enjoy this valuable resource.