There is something about animating a still portrait, however subtle the animation might be, that intrigues everyone. Unlike absolute still image, an animated portrait seems a whole lot more interactive and hence, a lot less monotonous. It literally breathes life into an otherwise mundane, motionless picture. This is perhaps the reason why we have Apple Live Photos and Google Motion Photos. But those are essentially super short video clip and it is pulled off during imaging, which means, nothing can be done with still images that are not captured with Live Photo or Motion Photo. What researchers over at Tel Aviv University have cooked up is a lot more advanced.
In recently-published study, researchers managed to turn single image selfie into one that animates and if you look at the demo video, it looks eerily like the moving portraits in Harry Potter series. To achieve this almost impossible feat, the scientists use a “driving video” of any person as the base. The facial expressions of the driving video is then mapped on a still photo or a painting to result in a moving selfie. In between mapping the facial movements to a still image, details will populate the original image when required. For example, when an original image that wasn’t smiling was made to smile, it will reveal the person’s teeth which the system will then add teeth to fill the void.
In addition, fine details, such as removing unnatural shadows, will also be done to result in an exceedingly realistic moving image. If you don’t already know, Facebook is involved in this project and that being said, the first real world use of this technology would be letting users to animate their profile pictures “to react to things they see on the social network,” or simply to break the monotony of still portrait. As you can see in the video after the break, the result is pretty impressive but it is, however, far from perfect. But it is a matter of time when we will see it being perfected and start being used on Facebook first. It is kind of a frivolous feature, but we are pretty elated nonetheless.
Images: Tel Aviv University.
Animated GIFs via Prosthetic Knowledge.