Well, this is something of a surprise. While I was in the process of writing yesterday’s Cool Beans Blog about Using Your Arm as a Touch Screen, I ran across this video showing a selection of historical portraits brought to life using artificial intelligence (AI).


For each of these portraits, we first see how some incredibly talented individuals take grainy black and white images, add colors, and — somehow — transform them into looking like modern high-resolution color photos. Next, an additional layer of realism is applied by using AI to animate the faces in subtle ways, including moving and blinking the eyes, implementing small movements of the lips, and making slight changes of the overall positioning of the head.

The end result is rather impressive albeit somewhat surreal. In the case of the Abraham Lincoln entry, which commences at time 3:12, I found myself wanting him to start talking to me.

I’m currently in the process of reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Leonardo da Vinci, which was a present from my wife (Gina the Gorgeous). I recently reached the part about the Mona Lisa and I’d love to see this treatment applied to that portrait.

Some of the comments to the video are thought-provoking, like Pogi Man saying, “Imagine visiting a museum where portraits of historical figures come alive, winking and smiling at the visitors.” Now I am imagining just that thing.

Also, Ileana Habsburg-Snyder gave me pause for thought when she noted, “Your 10th person is my grandmother, Ileana, Princess of Romania. It was wonderful for my siblings and family to see how you brought her to life. Incredible work. Nice job.”

This immediately made me start thinking that I would love to see this technology applied to photos of my dear old dad. Also, to photos of my grandparents. Also, to photos of one of my best friends, Mark “Shears” Burkinshaw, who passed away before his time.

How about you? Do you have any thoughts you’d care to share on what you’ve seen here?