Quirky new service uses AI to animate old family photos: Deep Nostalgia

Quirky new service uses AI to animate old family photos: Deep Nostalgia

Deep Nostalgia, a new genealogy service site MyHeritage, which animates old family photos, has gone viral on social media, in another example of how AI-based image manipulation is becoming more mainstream.

Launched in late February, the service uses an AI technique called deep learning to automatically animate faces in photos uploaded to the system. Due to the ease of use and the free trial period, the service took off quickly Twitter, where users upload animated versions of old family photos, celebrity photos, and even drawings and illustrations.

Three years ago, it took The Guardian several hours to artificially create a 15-second face-swap of Theresa May and Margaret Thatcher on a powerful desktop computer. Now the same effect can be achieved for free with a cell phone and apps like Snapchat, or given away for free as a promotion for a genealogy website.

And while Deep Nostalgie’s automatically produced videos won’t fool anyone into thinking they are real images, a more careful application of the same technology can make them very difficult to distinguish from reality.

Tom Cruise seems to be a particular topic of choice: In 2019, a video clip of comedian Bill Hader who turned into the Hollywood star while performing an impression on David Letterman’s show went viral.

Last month, a new TikTok account called deeptomcruise garnered millions of views with a series of videos that are, it says, fake versions of the actor talking to the camera. Cruise’s counterfeits are so accurate that many programs that recognize manipulated media cannot recognize them.

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