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Not an FCPX story, but an accidental discovery via Twitter. With machine learning set to take a bigger role in editing, one Twitter account is already auto-colourising photos. Spoiler: They are doing video too.

Machine learning is the new phrase to include in any writing  about the future of software. It's a very posh way of saying that computers can learn to do tasks without having to be programmed at every step.

Adobe very proudly gave us a sneak peak of Project Scribbler that auto-colorised portraits. Quite interesting, but worth a watch just for the lady presenter's humour.

Pretty impressive stuff using Adobe Sensei and a good indication that machine learning will end up in video and photo editing apps in the future. 

Apple isn't being left out either as their recent 'jobs vacant' board showed a vacancy for a ML expert to work in their video apps department.

And of course Philip Hodgetts has been talking about ML use in video for a long time. Based on his previous predictions, he's probably right too

Which is all background in the runup to a discovery of ours via Twitter.

Finnian Anderson posted an article on how looking at colourised photos from World War Two got him and his colleague Oli Callaghan thinking could they could automate the process using machine learning and AI.

We shall save you from the science, (which is well worth a read on how they did it) but we will mention that they ended up using a model developed by PHD students at the University of Berkeley. That model has already 'learnt' from over 4.5 million images at ImageNet.

They very cleverly automated the process into a 'Twitter Bot" so all you have to do is tweet a black and white photo to @colorisebot and it will tweet back the colourised version.

It normally takes under 10 seconds to process and has produced some pretty amazing results.

 Screen Shot 2017 10 19 at 01.42.53 1

image courtesy of Finnian Anderson

We had a go too and although you can get some amazing looking effects in seconds, it does seem to be a bit hit and miss. Then again, everytime you submit a photo, the process gets better, so by the time you have read this article, it will have already absorbed the info from the pictures we submitted! The bike photo is pretty amazing.

colorisebot 1

colorisebot 3

colorisebot 2

So where is the interest in this for video editors? It wouldn't take a huge amount of code to build a plugin to auto colorise b&w photos without having to do the Twitter dance, but what about video?

This is where Finnian and Oli are already ahead as they claim to be the first to auto-colorise video by breaking it down into an image sequence, running that through the process and then restitching it together.

Not as convincing as the stills and it all looks very yellow, but this is the future happening now. Give it a try yourself with some black & white images.

Oh, did we mention the author of the bot, Finnian is 17 years old? Maybe Apple should give him a call about that job! :)


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