A few weeks ago, the MyHeritage genealogy website released an artificial intelligence program called Deep Nostalgia. It takes still photographs of people, analyzes them and animates their faces in a lifelike way by making them seemingly blink their eyes, move their heads and make subtle movements with their lips.
The effect often proves amazing, unsettling and has future implications in terms of ethics, especially in the developing era of “deep fake” videos and images.
Shortly after Deep Nostalgia came out, I saw one TikTok account use the program with pictures of 19th-century figures from the Civil War and Old West. Seeing Abraham Lincoln or Wyatt Earp seemingly brought back to life was amazing.
In recent days, this TikTok video of an elderly man moved by seeing an animated photograph of his long-deceased wife went viral:
That prompted me to think: What would it be like to see prominent figures from Route 66’s history with the Deep Nostalgia program?
I chose about a dozen, ranging from those who’ve been dead for more than a century to others who passed away less than a decade ago. Here is a compilation of results from that animation program:
In some cases, the Deep Nostalgia animation works fairly well, such as Cyrus Avery and Lillian Redman in particular. In others, the eyes don’t always sync up. The program also seems to have trouble rendering animations when the subject wears a hat, such as Mickey Mantle and Will Rogers.
And the renderings often are only as good as the quality of the image. As a result, the animation of Lucille Hamons left a little to be desired, in my opinion.
Deep Nostalgia takes an uploaded photograph, crops it to portrait mode, cleans up the image and animates it — all in less than 10 seconds in most cases. If an animation looks a little off or too herky-jerky, the program offers 10 options to choose from for more satisfactory results.
I performed the animations as an experiment and also thought a few Route 66 enthusiasts might get a kick from seeing popular and recently deceased figures such as Bob Waldmire and Gary Turner.
A lot of Deep Nostalgia users have thanked its creators for bringing images of long-dead relatives back to life, and some readers here might find it invigorating for their own uses. Folks also should know this A.I. program is out and can be abused in any number of ways.
(Animated GIF of Cyrus Avery after using the Deep Nostalgia artificial intelligence program)