Sir Peter Jackson's WWI documentary could be a miracle on film

Many film nerds had predicted Sir Peter Jackson was working on a WWI film.

The iconic Kiwi director already owns his own squadron of working WWI planes, and it's no secret that there's an entire warehouse full of WWI-era props, guns, uniforms and even working tanks at his WingNut Films headquarters in Miramar, Wellington.

But the news this week that Sir Peter was working with the Imperial War Museum in London to produce a documentary of restored WWI footage still came as a pleasant surprise for some.

Judging by the clips showcased in a short announcement video, the transformation of blurry, damaged, century-old scraps of nitrate film into ultra-HD footage is indeed revolutionary.

The soldiers' faces really come to life - they become real-looking people you could reach out and touch, rather then jerky, shadowy-figures.

Sir Peter says the Imperial War Museum approached him two years ago and asked what could be done with the original First World War footage, to present it in a way that hadn't been seen before.

"I thought about all the digital technology that exists today," Sir Peter says.

"And can we restore that footage, and can we make it look new, and look sharp, [in a way that] goes way beyond what has ever been done before. So we did some tests, and the results really surprised me - they were unbelievable.

"We can make this grainy, flickery, sped-up footage look like it was shot in the last week or two. It looks like it was shot with high-definition cameras, it's so sharp and clear now."

The few small clips Sir Peter shows in the video are all of British soldiers - so will there be restored footage of Kiwis in the film titled 14-18NOW as well?

There certainly would have been plenty of opportunities for New Zealand soldiers to get in front of the cameras, as over 100,000 of them served overseas during the Great War, which was almost 10 percent of the entire population at the time.

Of those who went, 18,500 were killed and another 41,000 were wounded.

Brian Finn is a spokesperson for Weta and told Newshub there will indeed be Kiwis in the documentary:

"There is footage of New Zealanders in the film - from 1916, at the time of the Somme," Finn says.

Finn says the restored film of Kiwi soldiers shows them behind the lines in Northern France preparing for battle.

The Battle of the Somme remains the bloodiest military engagement in New Zealand's history, producing almost 8000 New Zealand casualties in just 23 days.