As genealogists, aren’t we all trying to get as close as possible to our ancestors? We pour through their once-private documents, seek to uncover long-held secrets, and work as hard as we can to fill in as many details as possible. It’s almost as if we are trying to conjure them back from the dead…
Well, now, you can! Sort of, anyways. MyHeritage‘s new feature “Deep Nostalgia,” powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) licensed from D-ID, animates your old family photos to create the effect that the photo is still moving. The program allegedly applies traditional facial movements in a collection of pre-recorded videos and applies the blueprint that works best for the still photo being processed. It’s designed to allow you a glimpse into what it would be like to see an ancestor IRL (in real life). Sounds lovely, right?
It certainly is fascinating the first time you do it. It also, however, has a serious creepy-crawly vibe.
There are also, of course, limitations. I tried to push the technology to see if it would animate, say, an image of my dog. Or an illustration. None of these worked (really, REALLY bummed about my dog). For the most part, it will only work with single headshots although I was able to get animations of my great-great grandparents who were taken side-by-side in a photo together in front of their home. Each person was animated separately.
I also experimented on myself. I uploaded a few selfies in an attempt to see if the service truly captured my own unique facial movements according to reality. The truth is that the accuracy of the final animation really depends on the photo being used. In one of my selfies, I was squinting a bit because the sun was in my eyes. This resulted in my Deep Nostalgia animation looking like I was squinting in my entire video. Not entirely wrong, but certainly not the most accurate depiction of how I would appear under normal circumstances.
Ultimately, it was a fun distraction. While the tool doesn’t advance one’s genealogical research, nor does it adhere to the traditional “just-the-facts-ma’am” mentality we’ve all applied to our work, it’s enjoyable and entertaining. I’m also hopeful this tool will bring a younger cohort of genealogists into the field, which would be a big plus!
To access Deep Nostalgia, you’ll need to sign up for a free account on MyHeritage.com and then simply upload a photo. Once you upload a photo (five photos can be processed for free before you’ll be asked to subscribe), the site then take a moment to process and enhance the image before animating it and creating a downloadable GIF.
4/5 from us here at All The Roads.