Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima, when the US Marines and Navy invaded and captured the island from the Imperial Japan Army. Almost 7,000 Allied troops and 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. The University of South Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections is now helping the History Division of the Marine Corps digitize and make public mostly unseen film footage shot by marines in combat during the battle. There are 14,000 cans of film undergoing the digitization and preservation process. The videos above and below are barely a teaser of what's to come. From the University of South Carolina:
From the beginning, Marine Corps leaders knew they wanted a comprehensive visual account of the battle — not only for a historical record but also to assist in planning and training for the invasion of the Japanese main islands. Some Marine cameramen were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities, such as engineering and medical units. Films from these units show the daily toll of the battle such as Marines being treated in the medical units or being evacuated off the island to hospital ships as well as essential behind-the-lines tasks of building command posts or unloading and sorting equipment on beaches….
Another goal of the Marine Corps film project is to identify and label as much of the historical information in the films as possible, such as Marine Corps units and equipment. In addition to manually scanning the films for this information, Moving Images Research Collections has partnered with Research Computing and the university's Computer Vision Lab, a research group within the College of Engineering and Computing, to use artificial intelligence to recognize text in the films to help identify units as well as individual Marines, airplanes and ships.
Using artificial intelligence and machine learning "can quickly and accurately provide the wanted information to different users, including historians and general users. Just as the computer can 'recognize' faces from videos, we can now train a collection of very big and deep artificial networks to make the computer 'know' what is the text inside the video and which parts of the videos are related to some topics," says Liang Zhao, a doctoral student working on the project.
For example, Marines might have names on the sides of their helmets or stenciled on their uniforms. Ship names, hull numbers and tail numbers on planes also provide identifying information that is searchable by anyone viewing the films online.
More: "Historic Iwo Jima footage shows individual Marines amid the larger battle" (The Conversation)
(Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!)