Audio from silent footage?

I remember Daedulus aka David E. H. Jones, a Mensan (I read his ‘The Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes’ as a kid, my mother was a Mensan so she bought it for me) talking about the idea of picking up vibrations from the Ancient Greek plasterers to hear what songs they sung as they plastered. The idea being the trowel resonates, and as they move it, it could act as a sort of recording stylus. Completely pie in the sky, but always remembered this.

Now, a group has come up with a way of doing something like that except with silent video high-def footage, measuring the tiny vibrations of the image to extract the sound – every object vibrates according to sound, some more, some less…

All so well if you happen to have silent 1,000 fps or more footage lying around – but they even did it with consumer grade DSLRs at normal frame speeds, utilising the rolling shutter effect. This made me pay attention and was the real ‘wow’ – I wonder if the sound of old silent film could be recovered in a similar way, or would that be too low-res because of the grain and time? Quite a few of the early film and cine cameras used different shutters – slit scan (vertical, horizontal) and rolling, which could help with that. I suspect the biggest problem might be not having a stable tripod! (video via SpareElbowSkin)

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