They were black and white images, taken 88 years ago. A specialist gave them colour. Thanks to that, we can see the last Tasmanian tiger in color video.
The Tasmanian tiger or thylacine was a carnivorous marsupial that originated in the Holocene. It was native to Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. It became extinct in the 20th century. Naturalist David Fleay filmed the original footage in black and white. He did so at Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart, in December 1933.
Fleay’s coloured film features Benjamin, the last captive thylacine. We see Benjamin lying or walking around the perimeter of the small enclosure. He appears sniffing the air and scratching himself.
Fleay studied the breeding of endangered species in captivity. He was bitten on the buttocks after filming the movie.
French specialist Samuel François-Steininger was in charge of the colorization. Before starting, he did a long research.
“I faced a different kind of challenge and responsibility. I had to take care of the rare images filmed and pay tribute to the last representative of a species. I discovered the story of the thylacine while living in Australia in 2012. And it really moved me,” the expert explained.
“Regarding the coloration options, we looked for references. We found many different skins in different museums. They were well preserved in the dark and kept their colors,” he added. They also relied on sketches and paintings of the animal.
“From a technological point of view, we did everything digitally. There was a combination of digital restoration, rotoscoping and 2D animation. Also lighting and AI algorithms for movement. Seeing the last Tasmanian tiger in color video was quite a challenge. It took more than 200 hours of work to achieve this result,” Steininger explained in a statement.