Remastered music videos

Recently I’ve been looking for high definition remasters of old music videos. By that I mean proper scans of 16mm or 35mm film. Youtube has been uploading many upscaled music videos advertising them as HD. Some people also have been attempting to upscale videos using machine learning, but results aren’t great.

A lot of music videos from 80s and 90s were made by people who would later become acclaimed film directors, like Michel Gondry, Spike Jonze, David Fincher, Anton Corbijn. Hell, even Michael Bay. Some great pieces of art were made in the era of SD television.

Of course original film needs to still exist for a proper remaster to be even possible. If any special effects were originally done in post production in low resolution, those would have to be redone from scratch, which would be expensive. More on the subject by Tom Scott.

A lot of those scanned films aren’t truly 4k or even 1080p. Quality will depend on size of film, how well it’s preserved, its light sensitivity, and of course lenses used. At 1080p 35mm film grain is already noticeable. Heavy video compression may smooth it out, since it’s treated like an unnecessary noise. Bluray has enough bitrate to display film grain at 1080 but Youtube has a lot bigger compression. That’s why on Youtube at 1080 most of the grain is gone. However, at 4k even fine grain is clearly visible.

I created a Youtube playlist with all the videos I found. Similar lists have been made, some good, some worse.

Here’s a list with remastered live performances.

Here are some examples (more to be found on the playlist). I’ll be posting whenever I find something new.

“Zombie”, 1994, directed by Samuel Bayer who also did “Smells like teen spirit”, among many others.

“D’You Know What I Mean?”, directed by Dom and Nic; premiered in 1997. At 2:49 you can see people cloned in post production:

Not an MTV era, but definitely worth seeing. “Strawberry fields forever”, directed by Peter Goldmann (1967):

Uncensored version of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” which shows more clearly what happened to the main character. Actor who played Jeremy died in 2016. Directed by Mark Pellington, 1992.

“Beethoven (I Love to Listen To)”, 1987, directed by Sophie Muller:

“High hopes”, directed by Storm Thorgerson, 1994:

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Realistically … those videos were engineered for “NTSC/PAL video,” and shot in Kodachrome®. At the time it was necessary to compensate, in costuming and so forth, with the inevitable “color cast” – and then, the awfulness of CRT-based “color TVs.”

One of the fundamental principles here is that you can never remove “noise.” You can never reliably introduce detail where no detail exists. These videos today are simply “a product of their time,” as well-engineered as professionally possible for the strictures of their time.

Really, the only way you could re-do them now is to, in some cases, “raid the graveyards,” re-create the original situations and re-shoot them in HD.

Some videos look just renewed that look like they were shot with modern hi-res cameras, do you think they used donwscale and upscale techniques with AI machine learning to remaster them?

However, listening to these songs in sequence, my soul immediately invigorates. comparing them with “modern music” it seems to me more and more to listen masterpieces. And seeing in high resolution, or in any case in refreshed video, it seems to me to go back in time with a timemachine

NTSC/PAL were not an artistic choice but a limitation of the technology. Besides, CRTs and analogue television are gone so even if one wanted to, there’s no way to see those videos “as they were meant to be watched”. I’m sure most creators would be happy for people to watch those in high definition.

I never said I would like to remove film grain. Quite the opposite, I would like to keep original image intact if possible. I was only commenting on the fact that film has its limitations. You can sometimes see people talk about cosmic resolutions you can achieve from a 35 mm film stock, when in reality at 1080p you often start to see the grain. However remastered videos from the 90s look better than those from the 80s. It seems to show progress in film technology from that time.

I’m pretty sure those on my list were not up scaled. I don’t think the technology is that good yet, although we’ll get there soon I’m sure. Record labels with Youtube have upscaled hundreds of music videos to 1080p, but they used simple interpolation, sometimes adding ugly sharpening filter. Still they look better than 360p or 480p versions that were uploaded ten years ago, though.

There are companies that specialize in film scans, for example: They say they scanned “Careless whisper” and “Virtual insanity”. That was a year ago but Youtube still has low res versions of those songs, sadly.

This exactly how I feel! That’s why I’m exited about it. I’m only surprised that there are so few examples.

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Came out two days ago. “Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of”; directed by Kevin Godley, filmed in Los Angeles in November 2000:

From U2’s website:

Over the next year the band’s music video catalogue will be remastered in HD and launched exclusively on YouTube in that format. (…) best known music videos upgraded to HD for the first time ever, up to 4K quality when possible.

Yesterday they uploaded “Beautiful Day”, but it’s clearly been merely upscaled to 1080p from low res video. So not every U2 music video will be properly remastered from original negatives.

Three videos from Primal Scream I haven’t seen before. There’s a huge grain on all of them so presumably they were shot on 16 mm? Because of that I do not recommend watching in 1080p. Youtube’s compression can’t handle noise very well.

Inspired by 60’s rock “Burning wheel”, 1997. I couldn’t find who directed it.

“Some Velvet Morning”, originally performed by Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra. Here with Kate Moss who sings and does a sexy dance. Directed by Dawn Shadforth, 2003:

“Country girl” - this one is not safe for work. Titular country girl is doing outrageous things like snorting coke and puking on the sidewalk, so be warned. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund the same guy who did video for “Smack my bitch up” by The Prodigy. This one looks like a milder version of that with a cowboy hat on. 2006.

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So sorry to hear that :frowning:

Another one fom U2’s “All That You Can’t Leave Behind” album.
Filmed in King’s Cross in London in February 2001, directed by Liz Friedlander.

Couple of videos from Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory” album.
“One Step Closer”, directed by Gregory Dark, 2001. Wikipedia states that it “is the only Linkin Park music video to be filmed with SD cameras” but they don’t give any source of that information. It doesn’t look like an upscale from 480p to me. There are up-scaled videos on the channel and they don’t look nearly that good.

“Crawling”, directed by the Brothers Strause, 2001. There are couple of shots that are clearly lower resolution (for example 00:56):

“Papercut”, directed by Nathan Cox and Joseph Hahn, 2001. VFX shots at 02:07, 02:31 and 02:49 are low resolution.

“Freedom! '90” - directed by David Fincher, 1990. Shot in London. Video features models: Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Tatjana Patitz, Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, John Pearson, Todo Segalla, Peter Formby and fashion photographer Mario Sorrenti.

Paul McCartney’s short animation from 1984. Directed by Geoff Dunbar.

Edit: It was hidden after two days.

“In da Club”, directed by Philip Atwell, shot on December 10–11, 2002.

“Pride (In The Name Of Love)”, directed by Donald Cammell,1984



Video features opening and closing shots of the Dublin Docklands area.

Couple more from U2.

"Red Hill Mining Town"
Produced in February 1987 in London and directed by Neil Jordan. It was filmed on a set representing an underground mine. Some shots of the band in slow motion are low-res.

"Where The Streets Have No Name"
Shot above the Republic liquor store at 7th and Main, Los Angeles in March 1987. Directed by Meiert Avis.

"All I Want Is You"
Shot by Meiert Avis in the town of Ostia, outside Rome on 18 April 1989. The video features actress Paola Rinaldi and actor Paolo Rissi.

Mr. Big - "To Be With You"
Directed by Nancy Bennett in 1992. Features the band performing in a railroad car.

Yes, I remember these songs. Some remastered music videos only add visual content, nothing else.

"Weapon of Choice", 2001
The music video was filmed in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel (now the L.A. Grand Hotel Downtown) in Los Angeles in December 2000. Directed by Spike Jonze, it features actor Christopher Walken, who trained as a dancer in musical theatre before his acting career.
Won six awards at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards and Grammy Award for Best Music Video in 2002.
(from Wikipedia)

Oliver Maingay from London video specialists Vanderquest describing the remastering process as a “marathon 18 day VFX session”. Maingay said the jobs varied from “removing the giant rig used to fly Christopher Walken around an empty hotel, to superimposing a portrait of Fatboy Slim on to a blank wall and even some Face/Off inspired swapping between actor and stunt man”, and that Vanderquest hopes the restoration is “a stunning new remake of one of, if not the, greatest music videos of all time”.

"Don’t Speak", directed by Sophie Muller, 1996
It won the award for “Best Group Video” and was nominated for “Video of the Year” at the 1997 MTV Video Music Awards.

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"Joyride", directed by Doug Freel, 1991


Director Doug Freel had done a solid job. In total, he had recorded 186 minutes of raw material for a song that is just under four minutes. After the recordings, 18 rolls of 35 mm film were shipped from Los Angeles to Swedish EMI, where they spent their time on a shelf in the darkness of the basement until the 30th anniversary began to approach.

But the original master of the approximately 4-minute-long Joyride video was not among the materials. So to update the video, there was only one thing to do: start from the beginning and go through all the materials to recreate the video from scratch.

Said and done, box after box of 18 rolls of film was sent to mastering and restoration expert Thomas Ahlén at Filmtech in Stockholm. He immediately noticed that the materials were in unexpectedly good condition and started the work of removing dirt and sharpening colours and details.

Thomas Ahlén tells:

Since the film reels haven’t been used in all these years, they were very well preserved. It’s been a time-consuming job, but at the same time much fun to be able to present a 30-year-old video in the best possible way. The fact that all the raw materials were silent films and then they had to be matched to the single version was just one of the challenges.

In this project of Joyride – the 30th anniversary version, a piece of Swedish pop history meets the enormous technological development that has taken place in moving media since 1991. The result is a version that follows the original video to 75%.

Per tells:

Some so-called “green screen” scenes have been removed, because they were very difficult to recreate. Instead, we’ve found other goodies in the raw material. In the long run, however, we plan to restore the video completely – and perhaps also other Roxette videos – in 4K resolution.

Remastered from the original 16mm film reels, two classic songs from 1975:
"Why Can’t We Be Friends?", directed by Howard Miller

"Low Rider"