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Frederick Douglass is trending on social media.
A new Netflix series, ‘Amend: The Fight for America’ (streaming now), highlighted the civil rights icon and Rochester resident but the attention he’s receiving at the moment is due in part to new technology that has brought his photographs to life.
Myheritage.com is a website that helps people explore their history and create a family tree by hosting access to billions of historical records. The site is headquartered in Israel and has an American office in Lehi, Utah. The company claims 64 million users worldwide.
The site’s newest feature is Deep Nostalgia™, a new technology that animates faces from historical photos to create high-quality, realistic video footage.
The Deep Nostalgia™ feature uses various visual effect “drivers” prepared by MyHeritage. Each driver is a video consisting of a fixed sequence of movements and gestures. Deep Nostalgia™ applies the drivers to a face in a still photo, creating a short video that the user can share. The driver guides the animation movements so you can see your ancestors smile, blink, and turn their heads.
Frederick Douglass was the most photographed American of the 19th Century. More photos exist of Douglass than Abraham Lincoln. In recent days, Twitter users have adopted the Deep Nostalgia™ technology to produce iconic African Americans’ animations.
This animation of Frederick Douglass has since gone viral with 2.5 million views.
Social media reaction has ranged from users being in awe of the video to finding the technology deeply unsettling and borderline offensive.
A statement on Myheritage.com addresses the criticism that the technology is creepy and uncanny.
Some people love the Deep Nostalgia™ feature and consider it magical, while others find it creepy and dislike it. Indeed, the results can be controversial, and it’s hard to stay indifferent to this technology. We invite you to create videos using this feature and share them on social media to see what your friends and family think. This feature is intended for nostalgic use, that is, to bring beloved ancestors back to life. Our driver videos don’t include speech in order to prevent abuse of this, such as the creation of “deep fake” videos of living people. Please use this feature on your own historical photos and not on photos featuring living people without their permission.
MyHeritage.com is in partnership with FamilySearch.org, a genealogy website operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.
Contact Robert Bell at: email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @byrobbell & Instagram: @byrobbell
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