Researchers at the University of Washington have created a tool that can take hundreds or thousands of digital portraits and create an animation of the person's face in seconds.
The software 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 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.
According to lead author Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, a UW postdoctoral researcher in computer science and engineering, faces present additional challenges, because they move, change and age over time.
"This work provides a motivation for tagging," said co-author Steve Seitz, a UW professor of computer science and engineering and engineer in Google's Seattle office.
"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," added Seitz.
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 fades, between images, which the researchers discovered could produce a surprisingly smooth transition that gives the appearance of motion.
The research will be presented at the research next week in Vancouver, B.C., at the meeting of SIGGRAPH, the Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques.