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AI turns even ancient portraits and statues into eerily smooth facial expression clips.

By Nadeem Sarwar February 28, 2021, 5:03 pm
MyHeritage Deep Nostalgia AI

Ever wondered what Alexander The Great’s face looked like while he was plotting his next military conquest? Or Albert Einstien casually smiling in a eureka moment after cracking the mass-energy conversion code? Or your grandfather rocking his cowboy hat and a badass handlebar? If yes, then MyHeritage’s mind-bending AI project will do just that and fulfill your wish.

Pull a portrait from your family album, upload it, and see your ancestors come to life

Aptly named Deep Nostalgia, this AI needs just a picture of someone’s face to create a short clip of around 15 seconds with eerily accurate facial movements and an overall smooth flow. And yes, the results are impressive and creepy to equal measure. Don’t believe me? Just visit this page, upload a picture of your great-grandma, and see her come to life in a short clip in just about 10-15 seconds.


The AI is groundbreaking, and it actually sounds appealing on paper, especially when it comes to having an opportunity of imagining your deceased relatives and ancestors appear lively. But history buffs, including me, are having a gala time with it right now, experimenting it even on mummies and statues of historical figures ranging from Plato to Alexander the Great. Have a look at some of the results:

1. The best recreation of Deep Nostalgia I’ve seen so far on the internet
2. Hey, Mozart. Nice to see ya!
3. Two legends of the canvas brought to life. I present to you, Van Gogh and Picasso
4. The great Napoleon (with a not so great jawline), and a long dead, random Swiss chap with the jawline of Greek Gods
5. Two queens from an era long gone
6. Oh, Jesus!
7. The Bard and the Queen
8. Charles Dickens, a favorite of mine and arguably the best novelist of all time. Don’t fight me!
9. Statue time with a mad AI!
10. Of course, AI can give us stuff of nightmares too!
11. Just a couple of ancient portraits smiling, thanks AI!

So, what’s the secret AI sauce here?

MyHeritage says it has licensed a photo animating technology from D-ID that relies on machine learning for facial re-enactment. “The Deep Nostalgia feature uses several drivers prepared by MyHeritage. Each driver is a video consisting of a fixed sequence of movements and gestures. Deep Nostalgia can very accurately apply the drivers to a face in your still photo, creating a short video that you can share with your friends and family. The driver guides the movements in the animation so you can see your ancestors smile, blink, and turn their heads,” says the company in the FAQ section.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, it can animate all the faces in a yellowing family portrait. However, you have to click on each face to individually see the animated clip. Right now, you have to sign up in order to animate a photo, and depending on the complexity, it may take anywhere between 10-20 seconds to bring a picture to life. And yes, it works for both color and monotone pictures. Your turn next, Google!


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