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October 23, 2009 5:57 PM   Subscribe

Jeff Altman took some of his grandfather's 16mm Kodachrome home movies and made some really nice HD transfers out of them: San Francisco circa 1958, Disneyland in 1956 (part 2).
posted by mikesch (44 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite

 
That is absolutely fucking awesome. Seriously.
posted by kbanas at 6:04 PM on October 23, 2009


Awesome. Let this demonstrate to the youth of today that life in the sixties (the decade I was a kid in) was not that different than today. First, it was in colour (something my daughter still doesn't believe). Second, the humans quaintly had fun on 'rides' with fantastical shapes, and 'laughed' when the 'camera' was aimed toward them. How novel and odd!
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:04 PM on October 23, 2009


I love how Walt Disney appears to just be milling about. Heh.
posted by kbanas at 6:04 PM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


In the sixties, kbanas, Walt Disney was milling about everywhere. Even in Halifax, Nova Scotia. That old bastard just loved to mug for any camera he saw available. Eventually we had to send him to Florida.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 6:07 PM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


These are neat, and I totally want a royal blue suit like the dad is wearing in the SF video, but that is sure not the Jeff Altman I was expecting.

We went to this restaurant at Disneyland, and I told the waiter 'I want a 10-pound butt steak, hee-yi!'
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:08 PM on October 23, 2009 [2 favorites]


And now, now, he's cryogenicly frozen next to John Wayne.
posted by kbanas at 6:09 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoops, I see now that there's a comedian named Jeff Altman. Was just trying to give credit where it was due. Apologies for any confusion.
posted by mikesch at 6:11 PM on October 23, 2009


Love the Disneyland videos. My grandmother worked at the front gate on opening day and for a couple years after that. Later on two of my uncles also worked there but both of them ended getting fired for being ..um.. a little too enthusiastic.
posted by deborah at 6:12 PM on October 23, 2009


Oh, no worries, mikesch, it's not your fault that there are two guys with the same name. I just thought it was a funny coincidence.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 6:13 PM on October 23, 2009


I have a sudden wish to take a flying elephant ride.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:17 PM on October 23, 2009


The image quality and colors make 50 years ago seem not very distant. Great post.
posted by davebush at 6:26 PM on October 23, 2009


Gorgeous. Particularly the San Francisco one. These were taken 30 years before I was born, but they still fill me with a sense of sadness for the passage of time.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:44 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Watching the San Francisco video, it's fascinating to me (a 21-year-old born and raised in SF) just how little has changed. Part of it is the fabulous tone of Kodachrome of course, but if you ignore a couple of the new high-rise condo buildings near the ballpark (generally built in the last 5 years or so), pretty much every view from virtually every location is virtually identical to what you would see today. Beautiful footage.
posted by zachlipton at 6:47 PM on October 23, 2009


Wow, the colours in San Francisco were a lot better in 1958.
posted by Nelson at 7:03 PM on October 23, 2009


Wow! Thanks for the post, mikesch. I love it.
posted by Liver at 7:05 PM on October 23, 2009


That San Francisco movie is so fantastic. The cable car at the beginning, no. 525, was built in 1890 and still is in service today, renumbered as no. 25.
posted by gyusan at 7:23 PM on October 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


Really neat stuff. In the same vein (although not nearly as high quality), some 8mm footage my grandparents shot sailing on SF Bay c. 1970.
posted by brundlefly at 7:23 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I grew up in Orange County. The CRAZIEST part of the Disney film is the shot inside the Skyway looking back at Tomorrowland (the Space Bar), at the :30 second mark of Part I.

Notice the miles and miles AND MILES of orange groves in the background, outside of the park, and the blue car motoring down the street, which is Harbor Blvd. There's windbreaks of eucalyptus trees, about 100 feet high.

All of that is GONE. The Skyway itself is gone. If you could levitate up and get that same angle, your view outside the park would be blocked by the building that used to house the Carousel of Progress, hotels lining the eight-land Harbor Blvd, which runs parallel to the 12-lane Interstate 5. And then it's miles and miles of office buildings and suburbs.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:59 PM on October 23, 2009 [3 favorites]


The SF footage is absolutely awesome. Thanks much for posting. Best of the web indeed.
posted by pkingdesign at 8:09 PM on October 23, 2009


Wow, that is awesome. The quality is way better than I expected.
posted by ghharr at 8:20 PM on October 23, 2009


These videos are fantastic. I just love the look of Kodachrome. I had just put up a set on Flickr consisting of the first (and only) roll of Kodachrome I've ever shot the day I learned it was to be discontinued. Well, at least I had an opportunity to shoot one roll of it.

But these videos. Damn. The quality is just so superb. Favorited for awesome.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 8:25 PM on October 23, 2009


Set to Deerhoof, no less.
posted by anazgnos at 8:30 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


really nice. if he was able to add image stabilization (such as they did later with the zapruder tapes) this would be mind blowing.
posted by milnak at 8:40 PM on October 23, 2009


Somehow I don't think my home movies from 1988 will look as good in 2038. I think we abandoned film a little too early.
posted by Noon Under the Trees at 8:44 PM on October 23, 2009


QUESTION: Is there some bunch of presets that correct for old film stock? This San Francisco footage, for instance, just looks so *pink* to me. While the vintage film look is definitely cool, I'd love to see a color-corrected version, so I could get a better idea of what the world really looked like.
posted by scrowdid at 9:08 PM on October 23, 2009


The San Francisco video took my breath away. I arrived there shortly after this was made. The sight of that old building by the cable care turnaround made my heart stop. It was right where I used to hang out and love, unbelievable flash back. God, what memories and history this brought back.
posted by charlesminus at 9:27 PM on October 23, 2009 [5 favorites]


pretty much every view from virtually every location is virtually identical to what you would see today

I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but the footage is breathtaking nonetheless.
posted by gyc at 9:48 PM on October 23, 2009


scrowdid: if you want your old films to look like this, you'll have to buy ~$1.5m worth of film transfer equipment and learn how to use it. This was transferred on a Spirit and graded on a Davinci 2K+.
posted by higginba at 10:17 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


I love this! Everyone looks so happy and they're having so much fun. The ladies in the beginning of the SF movie are gorgeous. I love the way women dressed back then. Actually ladies fashions from the 20's until the 70's always captivate me.
posted by Eclipsante at 10:28 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


My grandfather's always bought 16mm film from the "expired" bin on huge discount. As a result, the colors were always grainy and washed out -- if the film actually developed.

So I look at this and think, yeah, he color-corrected using a hardcore correction device, but his grandfather at least never skimped on film.
posted by dw at 10:35 PM on October 23, 2009 [1 favorite]


Somehow I don't think my home movies from 1988 will look as good in 2038. I think we abandoned film a little too early.

But they'll have sound. And they would have cost far less to produce.
posted by delmoi at 12:53 AM on October 24, 2009


(Oh, and of course if you run you VHS tapes through million dollar cleanup equipment you'll probably get decent quality out of 'em. Of course, they'll still be only 240 scanline)
posted by delmoi at 1:02 AM on October 24, 2009


Fantastic post. I was at Disneyland only a few years after that, so it brought back memories. Thanks!
posted by languagehat at 6:14 AM on October 24, 2009


Does he say somewhere how he did this? I have piles of old 8mm and super 8 films that my parents shot in the 50s and 60s. How can I digitize them like this?
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:08 AM on October 24, 2009


CunningLinguist the search term you're looking for is "telecine". Many places still do the transfers. In NYC there's Pac Lab on E.1st St.
posted by merocet at 7:19 AM on October 24, 2009


Thanks!
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:21 AM on October 24, 2009


By the way, telecine, when done correctly can be very, very expensive. I'm guessing he has access to an expensive telecine machine (basically just a high resolution camera): I'm an aspiring feature film colorist, amateur photographer, and overall OK person. It is not as if you can just run it through a machine and get the results he did, which is unfortunate. I was looking to transfer a couple of films to high definition as not even DVD copies existed of some of the films I have. The quotes I were getting were so great that I contemplated buying a high end DSLR and doing it myself.
posted by geoff. at 8:03 AM on October 24, 2009


That San Fransisco video is effin' beautiful, but I keep expecting something horrible to happen-like a mid 60s Cloverfield


I think I watch too many movies.
posted by The Whelk at 8:57 AM on October 24, 2009


Is it strange to be nostalgic about a time and a place I have never, ever, been?

Those cars on the Golden Gate.. it's just so pretty.
posted by Harry at 10:41 AM on October 24, 2009


Fabulous video and what a wonderful memory to have for you and your, thanks
posted by Upon Further Review at 10:41 AM on October 24, 2009


Just wanted to add that I found this video absolutely stunning. The colors are just fantastic, and seeing what's changed, and what hasn't, here in the city I call home these days is just plain neat. Thought it was also fascinating how what the gentleman's grandfather chose to include in his edit is so much of what we think of as "San Francisco," (cable cars, China Town, Lombard Street) is in there, even if it doesn't represent the city a lot of us know and love today.

Thanks for sharing.
posted by hwickline at 1:45 PM on October 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Incredible. As someone born in the 70's, it's amazing to me how these videos make the 50s look just like I imagine them to me. Crisp and clean and orderly. Beautiful women in full make up and their men dressed in suits out for a Saturday afternoon tour of the city. Guys in sailor suits walking around Chinatown. Great, great post.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 2:21 PM on October 24, 2009


Wow. Thanks so much for posting this. His musical choices help to make nostalgia almost inevitable, no matter when and where you're from.

He must have felt so much closer to his grandfather by doing this.
posted by nosila at 2:52 PM on October 24, 2009


Somehow I don't think my home movies from 1988 will look as good in 2038.

I think people will be saying that about today's videos, too. If YouTube is any indication, there's probably millions of people out there whose historical legacy for their descendants will be crappy 5 fps cell phone cameras. Some of that stuff looks worse than the cheapest VHS camcorder that 1988 could crank out. I concede that the iPhone is great with its 30 fps 640x480 capture, but not everyone has one of those.
posted by crapmatic at 6:19 PM on October 24, 2009


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