I was at the gym and, as usual, I was watching downloaded films on the gym’s TV while cycling or rowing. I decided to watch the documentary “Samsara” by Ron Fricke and was amazed to see that I had been to many of the locations featured in the film, and furthermore, I had lots of my own footage of those locations. This gave me the idea to create a travel documentary using my footage, along with other trips that have never been shared online, including my travels to Japan.

So I checked the archives, and my heart fell. It’s not 2008 anymore, and the 50i 24fps handycam footage barely works in the 4k 60fps world of 2024. Then, I came across AI upscaling software and I asked myself, “Using this incredible technology, could I “fix” the old footage?” and, “How would I use it to make a new film?”

I needed to experiment. 

So, my guinea pig is this, an AI upscaled 4k 60fps reproduction of one of my favourite films, “Jawbreaker“. The movie showcases a 36-hour military simulation game that was filmed on-site at Copehill Down FIBUA site, near Stonehenge in England. It was a Tier 1 airsoft film that involved professional IED effects and was designed utilising the expertise of the Tier 1 men who fought in the Middle East conflicts of the 90s and 2000s. The game was of prodigious size and complexity, and the two teams of players had no idea what was going to happen; there was no script, a single live take, and only a few “leaders” who had any idea of the game plan. This was Tier 1’s most ambitious event and its first time using a third party of roleplayers to act out the villagers and cafe patrons. 

In fact, as a filmmaker, I also had nearly no idea what was going to happen; I was not read in on fine details at all. I only knew what I needed to act as a player and a marshal. Frankly, I think it’s a miracle that it went so well, and I caught some extraordinary moments, with enough to put together a cohesive film at the end.

The beauty is that I used the same camera for Jawbreaker that I did for my travel films. If this worked, then it would work for my planned travel film.

So, I updated all my Vegas filmmaking software, dragged the film files from my NAS drive and set the AI upscaling render to cook. Three days later, I had the new files and I then swapped out the footage in the original Vegas file. Amazingly, the new files just dropped in, preserving the original edits. After a weekend of work, the following had been completed:

  • All footage has been stabilised
  • All footage AI upscaled to 4k 60fps. 
  • Sound has been redone.
  • Colourgrading has been redone.
  • Rendered out in 4k 60fps.

It’s not perfect. Some of the stabilising introduced issues and errors, and the sound upgrade couldn’t fix the wind much. But for a few days of work, this is a serious improvement.

Check out the differences in the quality!

It is hard to believe these are from the same master source.

Here is the 4k render in all its glory. I hope you enjoy reliving a really great time.

So, next will come my planned travel documentary. Now that I know how to make this film from both an artistic and mechanical standpoint, I can seriously begin the planning to produce the film for the end of the year using footage originally filmed in 50i in 2008 but made to look like it was filmed this year in 4k.

I can’t wait.