Developers have created a new programme to bring still photography to life through animation software.

The project was designed in Israel by academics at Tel Aviv University and programmers at Facebook.

Computer graphics PhD student Hadar Averbuch-Elor started the project when she was working as a research intern at the social media giant.

Credit: Bringing Portraits to Life

She told Amateur Photographer: “We wanted to address an important question in computer graphics, which is can we animate realistic facial expressions from a single image?

“This field is packed with research because many cool things can come out of it, but also because it’s not an easy problem, since humans are extremely sensitive to the most slight nuances in facial animation and there’s always the fear of falling into the uncanny valley, where it just doesn’t seem real.”

The software works by using a video of someone else and mimicking their reactions through geometric facial transformations.

After this, extra details are added in, which are associated with facial expressions, like creases and wrinkles, to make the animation look more realistic.

Averbuch-Elor developed the programme with Daniel Cohen-Or at Tel Aviv University alongside Johannes Kopf and Michael F. Cohen from Facebook.

The software even works with portraits, like the enigmatic Mona Lisa, Credit: Bringing Portraits to Life

What do developments like this one mean for the future of static photography?

Averbuch-Elor said: “On the one hand, taking a still photo will always be the easiest form of communication, expressing yourself, etc.

“But on the other hand, we are witnessing all over that people want to have more immersive experiences, perhaps by sharing a video, 360 photo, or even using virtual reality.

“Our research aims at closing the gap – people can capture a single image but it allows it to become more than just a still.”

So what do you think of the software means for future of still photography? Let us know in the comments below.

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