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This is both extremely clever and very, very freaky

Image: MyHeritage.
2 minute read
Image: MyHeritage.

Have you ever wondered what your ancestors would look like if they were captured on film? Well this feature on the MyHeritage family tree website allows you to find out!

The technology behind the feature is incredibly clever, but in a nutshell it uses Deepfake style methods to detect faces in still photographs and then remap some pre-filmed facial movements, which the company calls "the driver" to the image. The results are actually quite startling. Once your image has been animated you can then change the driver to a different one that might better suit the mood of the image.

The company calls the technology Deep Nostalgia™, which is the result of a collaboration with Deep Learning specialists D-ID, and it posted a tweet showing off what it can do earlier this year.

The company's website shows off many more examples along with how parameters can be changed. MyHeritage is keen to stress that all animations are kept private and that it purposefully didn't include speech to avoid misuse. Users can try out the feature for free for a limited number of times, but beyond that you'll need to pay for a subscription.

The technology originates from D-ID's live Portrait system, which you can see in action below.

I've tried the feature on a few old photos of my own family and I have to say that I was impressed at the results. It is of course a complete gimmick and there is the question of why you'd want to do this. There is no quantifiable answer to this question other than to say it's an interesting thing to try, and that it is pretty good fun, particularly if you hand it something silly like a painting of Henry VII or Queen Victoria.

Along with the new animation system users can also utilise the site's AI based colourisation feature for black and white photos. The results with this, too, are really quite amazing. I've committed the ultimate sin below by colourising an Ansel Adams photo.

This in itself is pretty incredible, with the colours looking very natural and realistic, and it took the system only seconds to calculate and output. What's more is that over time these sorts of algorithms will only get better and better with the ability to deal with problem material much more easily. Below is a photo of John Glenn with the before and after results.

And here's one of Buffalo Bill.

It is absolutely incredible to think that these colourisations have been performed so quickly and by a computer system. If you fancy a go yourself visit the MyHeritage website.

Tags: Technology