How AI animates your old family photos – and where it’s going next

The last year has produced a succession of Black Mirror-style moments, but one of the most memorable was the arrival of an AI tool that could animate our old family photos with disturbing realism. 

Called ‘Deep Nostalgia’, it landed in late February and charmed social media with its ability to quickly and convincingly animate all kinds of faces: distant relations, statues, tattoos and, of course, the poster for The Nightmare on Elm Street.

Like pretty much everything, the tech divided internet opinion. Some found it to be a heartwarming cheat code for ‘meeting’ old relations they’d never met. Others felt it bordered on necromancy. Most of us were probably in a conflicted space somewhere in between. But the big news for photography is that it now exists – and in a form that has massive mainstream potential.

A re-animated photo of Amelia Earhart using MyHeritage's Deep Nostalgia

(Image credit: MyHeritage)

But how exactly does AI and machine learning reanimate your old family photos? And where is this all heading? ‘Deep Nostalgia’ came from the genealogy firm MyHeritage, but it actually licensed the tech from Israeli company D-ID (short for ‘De-Identification’). 

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