The genealogy platform MyHeritage released a new AI-powered feature called Deep Nostalgia and it turns totally still photos into animated faces. Before someone asks, there’s no magic here. The tool uses pre-recorded videos of facial movements, selects the one that works best for the particular still photo, and applies it to create a “real-life” moving pic.

The idea behind Deep Nostalgia was to give people the opportunity to upload photos of their deceased relatives and revive them in animated short videos.  And it seems like people on Twitter went crazy about the whole thing this Sunday, as everyone was excited to get their hands on the viral animator.

Not only did it deliver some very heartwarming impressions from those who saw their relatives coming to life once again, but it also became somewhat of a meme generator. It seems like pushing Deep Nostalgia to its very limit is the new big hit on social media, so let’s take a look at its most ingenuine applications.

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The mind-bending technology for animating photographs was licensed by MyHeritage from D-ID, a company that specializes in video reenactment using deep learning. The Deep Nostalgia feature uses several drivers prepared by MyHeritage. Each driver is a video consisting of a fixed sequence of movements and gestures.

According to the FAQ section on the MyHeritage website, 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.

It does so because the driver guides the movements in the animation, creating an illusion that the people in the photographs blink, smile, and turn their heads.


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Recently, MyHeritage’s Deep Nostalgia tool created a lot of buzz on social media. The PR representative for the technology told us that it generated 4 million images animated of users' loved ones in heartfelt memories, so far. However, the internet soon realized that pushing the feature to see its very capabilities is something equally as exciting as reviving old photographs.


For example, Rebecca Wragg Sykes, an Honorary Fellow at the University of Liverpool and author of the critically acclaimed bestseller “Kindred: Neanderthal Life, Love, Death and Art” found Deep Nostalgia a perfect tool to create an animated Neanderthal reconstruction.

Bored Panda reached out to Rebecca to find out what she thinks of the AI tool’s potential to reimagine our ancient ancestors. “I'd seen the Deep Nostalgia tool being used for some early 20th century photographs, but it was when Adam Rutherford shared an animated version of the Cheddar Man reconstruction (a roughly 10,000-year-old human from Somerset, UK) that I got excited about the potential for doing this with a Neanderthal reconstruction.”


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Thus, Rebecca used the 2012 reconstruction by the Kennis brothers of a Neanderthal from Spy Cave, Belgium, and she said she was hugely impressed. “It's one of the most emotionally engaging sculptures because of the way he's smiling (apparently originally based on Sean Connery's winning grin and twinkling eyes!).” Meanwhile, “The animation added so much more by giving the static expression life and nuance.”

When asked about applying such an advanced technology to imagining Neanderthals, Rebecca said that it’s already been done through art, “increasingly digital, such as the stunning work of Tom Björklund—for nearly 160 years.” She added that some 3D modelling has been done based on skulls, but this particular Deep Nostalgia algorithm generated a much stronger impression.



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Rose Rosee
Community Member
3 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

He's wondering if you can smell his farts... and really really wants to laugh.

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akalvin avatar
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3 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

This tool is beyond all creepiness! Try to put in one of your dead relatives, you can barely hold back your tears. It's just awesome!

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Note: this post originally had 31 images. It’s been shortened to the top 15 images based on user votes.

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“The public reaction to seeing this particular Neanderthal gazing back at us thanks to the Deep Nostalgia algorithm has been very powerful. It suggests that animating images helps people connect emotionally with lives of people living tens or hundreds of millennia ago,” the award-winning book author concluded.