People take hudreds of snapshots of their loved ones and with digital cameras over time — digital cameras have only inreased that number. What if you could compile the photos of a face and see it animated, showing how it changes over time?
Well, now you can. Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, a University of Washington postdoctoral researcher in computer science and engineering, worked with a group of programmers to make a tool that takes thousands of photos and strings them together in a few seconds, creating an animation of a person's face. The team presented their work at the Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (SIGGRAPH) conference in Vancouver.
The idea wasn't out of the blue; people have been taking single pictures of themselves and aligning the face in the image to create a kind of time-lapse picture for some time. But the movement is jerky and can look odd. Kemelmacher-Shlizerman's team wanted to get a smoother effect.
The software starts with photos that are tagged with the same person. It locates the face and major features, aligns the faces and picks photos with similar expressions. The tool uses a standard "cross-dissolve," or fade, between images. The effect looks smoother than simply placing several images in sequence and cutting between them. Picasa's face movie feature is based on this approach.
Of course, it isn't clear how many of us want to see in real time how much older we look than we did before.