Animating Ancestral Photo Images

At the recent Roots Tech Conference for genealogists and personal historians, the company My Heritage launched their brand-new image enhancing technology, Deep Nostalgia, that makes faces “come to life” within photographs.

It’s simply amazing what can be done with this technology. Take a look at these examples I’ve created in less than 30 seconds with Deep Nostalgia.

I’ve shared some of these examples with friends and family and the responses have ranged widely from thrilled & amazed to completely creeped out to reminiscent of the Harry Potter movies.

Carrie Elizabeth Mitchell, c. 1870s

This photograph is of my great grandmother, Carrie Mitchell Clute. She lived from 1855 – 1930, and this photograph was taken while she was a young woman in the 1870.

Now, take a look at what can be done with Deep Nostalgia. The technology is in it’s first version, and a user has no control over movements and details at this point. This took just a few second to generate with the software. It can be done on both color and black & white images, as well as can identify multiple faces within a single image, though it creates separate animations for each person.

Carrie Elizabeth Mitchell, c. 1870s – animated

My first reaction to this was a mix of disbelief and surprise, but now that I have watched it many times, I really appreciate it. There is one moment in the clip where her eyes stare directly out at the viewer, which I find incredible compelling.

Another example I tried with Deep Nostalgia was of my great-great grandparents, Nicholas Clute lived from 1826-1901. He was a 6th generation American, with our immigrant Clute ancestor arriving in Schenectady, NY in the 1650s as a beaver trader. Nicholas and his wife, Eve Beebe Clute (1828-1913) were both born on local farms and moved into the city of Schenectady after getting married. Having been raised on a farm, Nicholas was fascinated with mechanical farm implements and devoted his life to inventing. He had 20 patents granted to him during his lifetime. Family story has it that he went to Chicago for an invention contest and won a $500 prize – and spent it all before he got back home, including on a gift of a piano for his daughter.

Here are Nicholas and Eve – photographs taken c.1870’s.

And here they are animated with Deep Nostalgia.

Eve Beebe Clute, c. 1870’s
Nicholas Clute, c. 1870’s

Would love to hear your thoughts on this new technology. Would you want to use it? Why or why not?

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