Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Digital photos can animate a face so it ages and moves before your eyes

Personal photos occupy an ever-expanding amount of hard drive space. Baby, family and vacation photos can now number in the thousands. While some poke fun at the digital glut, others see a unique opportunity.

Researchers at the University of Washington have created a way to take hundreds or thousands of digital portraits and in seconds create an animation of the person's face.

The tool can make a face appear to age over time, or choose images from the same period to make the person's expression gradually change from a smile to a frown.

The researchers were inspired, in part, by people who snap a photo of themselves each day and then align them to create a movie where they appear to age onscreen. They sought an automated way to get the same effect.

"I have 10,000 photos of my 5-year-old son, taken over every possible expression," said co-author Steve Seitz, a UW professor of computer science and engineering and engineer in Google's Seattle office. "I would like to visualize how he changes over time, be able to see all the expressions he makes, be able to see him in 3-D or animate him from the photos."

Lead author Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, a UW postdoctoral researcher in computer science and engineering, will present the research next week in Vancouver, B.C., at the meeting of SIGGRAPH, the Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques.

"The vast majority of photos include faces – family, friends, kids, people who are close to us," Kemelmacher-Shlizerman said.

The new project is in the same spirit as earlier UW research that automatically stitched together tourist photos of buildings to recreate an entire scene in 3-D. That work led to Microsoft's Photosynth. Faces present additional challenges, Kemelmacher-Shlizerman said, because they move, change and age over time.

Luckily, face detection technology is improving. Picasa and iPhoto added face-recognition tools a few years ago; Windows Live Photo Gallery and, most recently, Facebook, can now automatically tag photos with people's names.

"This work provides a motivation for tagging," Seitz said. "The bigger goal is to figure out how to browse and organize your photo collection. I think this is just one initial step toward that bigger goal."

The software starts with photos from the web or personal collections that are tagged with the same person. It locates the face and major features, then aligns the faces and chooses photos with similar expressions so the transitions are smooth. The tool uses a standard cross-dissolve, or fade, between images, which the researchers discovered can produce a surprisingly smooth transition that gives the appearance of motion.

An example video uses photos of a Google employee's daughter taken from birth to age twenty. The owner scanned the older photos to create digital versions, tagged them with the subject's name and manually added the dates. The result is a movie in which the subject ages two decades in less than a minute.

For modern babies, who are digitally chronicled from before birth, such films will be much easier to create.

One version of the tool is already available to the public. Last year during a six-month internship at Google's Seattle office, co-author Rahul Garg, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering, worked with Kemelmacher-Shlizerman and Seitz to add a feature called Face Movie to the company's photo tool, Picasa.

The Face Movie version includes some simplifications to make it run more quickly. It also plays every photo tagged with the person's name, but not necessarily in chronological order.

The upcoming talk will be the first academic presentation of the research, which has potential applications in the growing overlap between real and digital experiences.

"There's been a lot of interest in the computer vision community in modeling faces, but almost all of the projects focus on specially acquired photos, taken under carefully controlled conditions," Seitz said. "This is one of the first papers to focus on unstructured photo collections, taken under different conditions, of the type that you would find in iPhoto or Facebook."

Related research by Kemelmacher-Shlizerman and Seitz, to be presented this fall at the International Conference on Computer Vision, goes one step further, harnessing personal photos to build a 3-D model of a face. Such models could be used to create more realistic avatars, simplify transmission of people's faces during video conferencing, or develop better techniques for recognizing faces that appear in digital photos.

Eli Shechtman at Adobe Systems is a co-author on the paper presented this month. The research was funded by Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Adobe Systems Inc. and the National Science Foundation.

For more information, contact Kemelmacher-Shlizerman at or 206-543-6876 and Seitz at or 206-616-9431.

Hannah Hickey | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Communications Media:

nachricht High Number of Science Enthusiasts in Switzerland
05.02.2018 | Universität Zürich

nachricht Between filter bubbles, uneven visibility and transnationality
06.12.2017 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Communications Media >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>