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This AI tool that brings old portraits to life is going viral for all good reasons

Deep Nostalgia is the latest thing to have caught Twitter's attention and people are now busy creating Harry Potter-style photos.

twitter-logoShubham Verma | March 1, 2021 | Updated 10:19 IST
Screenshots from GIF posted by Keerthik Sasidharan

Highlights

  • Deep Nostalgia can bring your dead relative back to life in photos.
  • You just need to upload a photo of the person on the MyHeritage website.
  • People are following this trend and posting many such GIFs on Twitter.

If you have ever watched a Harry Potter movie, I am sure you would have wished to have those magical photographs and newspapers, the people printed on which could talk and move. It is surreal to watch that happen on screen but we all knew it could never become real, because, obviously, that is all fiction. I am glad to tell you that is no longer true, kind of. A new trend is going viral on Twitter where people are posting GIFs of old people moving in still photos. And this could be another step towards what deepfakery can offer. The person in these photos could be your dead relative who you wish could become alive again or even visionaries such as Einstein, and they all move in photos. All of this is possible because of the Deep Nostalgia service.

Deep Nostalgia is an AI tool that is based on deepfakery to bring these photos to life. It is offered by an online genealogy company called MyHeritage and uses the artificial intelligence software licensed from D-ID to create moving stills. You only need to upload a portrait shot of a person, no matter if it is an old one or freshly coming out of your phone's camera. The tool uses a predefined set of facial movements and applies the ones that AI finds should work the best on the photo.

What you get as a result is a photo of the person now moving their head, lips, eyes, and sometimes even lips as if they are trying to talk to you. This feature has caught Twitter by storm where people are increasingly posting the deepfakes of their dead relatives, sometimes five to six generations older, where they become alive again.

The MyHeritage website is pretty simple to use, which explains why there is a deluge of users wanting to resurrect their old kins, even though that would be in photos. The website creates the GIF of these moving photos but it also enhances the photo to render it in the best quality before animations are thrown into the mix. According to the FAQ, these photos and their animated counterparts are not shared with third parties, which gives a sense of privacy. The website, however, will store your photos and results if you have an account with the service. A free account will let you create five animations but you will be required to pay beyond that.

While the idea of infusing old photos with life seems like an interestingly lovely idea, it is creepiest at the best. Deepfakes have emerged as an interesting way of creating some unimaginable videos where faces can be swapped. And the results look scaringly convincing. The Deep Nostalgia tool just takes it to another level where it is allowing people to animate old photos in never-thought-before ways. Deep Nostalgia can handle single headshots at a time, so if you were looking to try this service on any other sort of photograph, it is not going to work. People have tried bringing Alexander The Great, Socrates, and Bhagat Singh to life. And they all look so alive in these photos, so much so that it is almost forgettable that they are not.

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