Photographs bring history to life, but one service offers a new take on the concept. MyHeritage—a company focused on DNA testing and helping discover their family history—has developed what they call Deep Nostalgia, which uses AI to animate photos of people from the past. Black and white portraits now look like video footage as the subjects shift their glances and blink their eyes. The results are mesmerizing while being a bit unsettling as we don’t expect these old pictures to suddenly come alive.
So, how does this incredible service work? Once a photograph is uploaded to the MyHeritage platform (which hosts Deep Nostalgia), several “drivers” are used to animate the image. Each driver is a video containing a specific sequence of movement 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 company explains. “The driver guides the movements in the animation so you can see your ancestors smile, blink, and turn their heads. This really brings your photos to life!”
MyHeritage acknowledges that some might find the service “creepy,” as it approaches the uncanny valley. But, ultimately, the company encourages you to decide for yourself by creating a video and sharing it with your family and friends. Its purpose is to bring ancestors back to life and get a real sense of what it would’ve been like to interact with them—something MyHeritage finds magical.
If you’d like to try Deep Nostalgia, you can do so on the MyHeritage website. Once you sign up for the platform, you’ll get five free animations. (For more, you'll need a paid account.)
An online service called Deep Nostalgia will transform a historic photo of your family into an animated image.
— Nathan Dylan Goodwin (@NathanDGoodwin) February 25, 2021
— Susanne Wosnitzka 🍹 (@Donauschwalbe) February 27, 2021
Its so bizarre to see him brought to life- I never met my Grandad, however I used to imagine a young soldier stood by my doorway smiling just before I fell asleep. 💚
.#historytwitter #grandad #myheritage pic.twitter.com/V3lylcTKm1
— Nearlyknowledgeablehistory (@Nearlyknowledg1) March 3, 2021
— Heather Brant 💙 (@hetty72) March 1, 2021
OMG so cool. This is my great grand-mother. Thx for that 😉 pic.twitter.com/Nnr7JBgein
— jpb (@jpb_foto) February 28, 2021
Many folks have brought historical figures to life.
— Kristian Kersting (@kerstingAIML) February 27, 2021
I tried animating this picture of Twain I colorized a while back. Used the new feature on the MyHeritage app. pic.twitter.com/Y5W7trHg31
— Randall Stephens (@Randall_Stps) February 27, 2021
— Ian McKellen (@IanMcKellen) March 1, 2021
— Mychal (@mychal3ts) February 28, 2021
Deep Nostalgia by @MyHeritage is a lot of fun. Here are results by Time-Travel Rephotography x Deep Nostalgia.
Time-Travel Rephotography: https://t.co/qkUwJ8P2Eb
Deep Nostalgia API: https://t.co/mQSCNDl8dh pic.twitter.com/6ncItlrDVQ
— Xuan Luo (@XuanLuo14) February 27, 2021
— Ornela Bardhi (@ornelabardhi) March 1, 2021
— Dr Emily Bell (@EmilyJLB) February 28, 2021