MyHeritage - Actual Magic?!
I talk a lot about magic here on the blog, I mean, it's my theme. Mostly that magic is metaphorical. It is the Disney version of magic where you are whisked away to worlds unknown. Today, I think what I'm sharing might be literal magic. Recently, Amanda Sandoval (@historysandoval on Twitter) shared a new tech tool for automatically animating photographs. You drop in a photo of a person, the AI does the rest and magically you have a moving historical figure.
Those of you who have followed me for a long time probably know I've created this effect using CrazyTalk for years. What I love about CrazyTalk in particular is that the animated is set to audio so not only can you make the figures move, but you can make them seemingly talk. The program does a pretty good job of doing so automatically but it is still quite time consuming and often requires a fair amount of tweaking/editing to get it just right. I hesitate to recommend CrazyTalk because it is a very advanced program that has a steep learning curve. I personally use it very rarely myself just because I know how much work it will take.
Amanda shared a website called MyHeritage which does the work incredibly fast (albeit, not with an animated "talking" mouth.) MyHeritage is a family tree site akin to Ancestry.com. When you first go to the site it will ask you to sign up for a trial account. You don't have to! If you just exit out of that step you can create a basic account that does not require giving any credit card info. With that basic account you get access to the animation tool for free. So, for no cost you can turn this:
The tool has rather limited options. You can't, for example, tell it where to crop the image. It just automatically seems to find the "face" in the picture and make it the focal point. It also only outputs to video format. If you want to use your animation in something like Google Slides easily you can convert that video to .gif format using a number of tools. I usually use the website giphy.com for such things. You can then drop it into your slides without issue. You can even put the animated image over the original which will replace the area cropped out by the automatic software.
So, that's awesome. But it's not even the most magical tool on the site. Under the same Family Tree tab where you find the Animate Photos link is another for Colorize Photos. It does what it says. You drop in an old black and white photo and it does what I can seriously only describe as magic and colorizes it. You don't tell it what colors things are. It just knows. You can take an old photo of say a non-descript orange grove off the 5 freeway in Anaheim:
and within seconds turn it into this:
HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!?!
You can even click a simple button to "Enhance" the photo which sharpens it, again magically, removing much of the "fuzziness" associated with old photos. Awesome!
Why would I ever want to "unhistory" these photos you wonder? Remember, presentation matters! Our students probably don't have the appreciation for historical photos you and I do. Starting your presentation with the original photo then having it slowly morph into a sharpened, colorized, modern version is a powerful visual effect that will draw your audience to more deeply engage with your content. Having the Mona Lisa suddenly start to move while students are analyzing it will provide an experience they won't soon forget. These tools essentially allow us to modernize our presentations in a way that he will help our student connect with the content.
And, really, isn't that what we're after? So, go make some magic!