Thylacine or Tasmanian tiger was declared extinct way back in 1936 so none of us have ever been able to see it live. But The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) has just released a video that gives a new life to this unusual animal. The colorized footage from 1933 shows not only just any Tasmanian tiger but also the last one of its kind.
The NFSA released the video for National Threatened Species Day along with some more information about the species and the video itself. Naturalist David Fleay filmed the original footage at Beaumaris Zoo, Hobart in December 1933. Needless to say, it was in black-and-white. It shows Benjamin, the last captive thylacine as he walks around his cage, yawns, sniffs air, and scratches.
This video is special for two main things. First, it’s the longest single film of the ten separate thylacine films known to exist, as NFSA explains. And second, it shows the last Tasmanian tiger known to us, which is pretty special on its own.
The silent one-minute video was colorized by Samuel François-Steininger of Composite Films, a French visual effects studio. The NFSA scanned the original film negative using a Scanity HDR (High Dynamic Range) film scanner. Then, they sent Ultra High Definition ProRes files to Samuel in Paris. Of course, Samuel and his team did extensive research before embarking on the colorization process, as it’s a necessary step for every historically accurate colorization. And finally, they ended up with the result that you can see in the video above.
“For the thylacine, I faced a different kind of challenge – and responsibility. I had to take care of the rare filmed footage and pay tribute to the last representative of a species, which disappeared 85 years ago,” Samuel explains. “I care a lot about animals and discovered the story of the thylacine while I was living in Australia in 2012, and it really moved me.”
Sadly, Benjamin died on 7 September 1936. To his honor, and honor of other endangered species, this date is marked in Australia as the National Threatened Species Day. “I am very happy and proud to pay tribute to the thylacine on this special day,” Benjamin says. “I hope this project will help to communicate and raise awareness of plants and animal species at risk of extinction.”