This is how you turn family photos into movies

Did you film something and afterwards you regret not taking a picture? Then you can always extract a picture from the film material. But if there is only a photo, it seems impossible to make a film of it. Yet it is possible. Recently you can turn old family photos into movies.

Chances are you still have one somewhere shoebox full of old family photos have at home. With a bit of luck you have already digitized the most precious photos. That way you can view them on the computer screen at your leisure. With such a photo archive you travel through time. You are also entering uncharted territory, because in addition to photos from your own childhood, there are bound to be old photos of your parents, grandparents and maybe even records that go back even further in time. Precious moments that you don’t know about, simply because you were too young or not yet born. How nice would it be if these were moving images, so that you get a much more realistic impression of what these people were like in real life. Deep Nostalgia is going to help us realize that.

Scarce images

Unfortunately, you’re left with a shoebox or disk full of snapshots. After all, in photos everything is still. Everyone is literally frozen in time. Since consumer video cameras were introduced around the 1980s, there is a chance that at least some moving image will be available from then on. Depending on how fanatically filmed. Because 8mm films only had a recording time of three minutes. Unlimited filming was only possible with the later VHS and DV tapes.

Unfortunately, there is no moving image of that. And the further you go back in time, the fewer photos are left. Of great-grandparents and previous relatives there are usually only a few sparse photos. And it is precisely in those very old photos that people look rather surly and formally into the lens, they were more like state portraits. What would it be like if they smiled kindly at you and looked around curiously? In short, what were they like as human beings in their usual way of doing things?

The further you go back in time, the less footage is left.

Back in time

Of course, we can’t travel back in time to quickly shoot a few movies with the advanced cameras we have today. But with the help of artificial intelligence and smart software we can come a long way. Because recently you can turn old family photos into short videos thanks to deep learning techniques.

It’s truly a revelation to see ancestors you’ve only known so far from old yellowed photos, or your parents in their early years, suddenly come to life on screen. They smile at you, blink and look around relaxed. It’s a bit similar to the living paintings from the Harry Potter movies, only this time it’s about moving photos of your own family!

Seeing is believing

This is really something you have to see with your own eyes, because then you realize how special it is. And you can, even now. All you have to do is dig up a precious photo of a family member, go to the website of Deep Nostalgia go and upload the photo there. Just seconds later, this family member looks at you with a cheerful and friendly smile.

It’s almost scary, it looks so incredibly realistic. Almost like being in a live video connection, but this artificial intelligence doesn’t go that far (yet). Old photos usually don’t look flawless, but even if the picture is a bit faded and yellowed, it can usually still be made into a good animation. The photo is first optimized via smart software.

First you have only a photo, and suddenly you are watching a lifelike video.


Deep Nostalgia is part of the MyHeritage platform, a website where you explore your past, that of relatives and ancestors through historical records, family trees and DNA matching technologies. You can try Deep Nostalgia for free. After some animations, a subscription is required to turn family photos into vibrant movie images.

Another useful photo feature is a tool that allows you to convert black and white photos into color photos using deep learning technologies. Recently you can also use this to refresh faded color photos. Faded photos can also be restored, so that faces are clearly displayed again.

Image Variation

With a normal film recording, everything is fixed. No matter how many times you play the fragment, something completely different doesn’t suddenly happen. With Deep Nostalgia it works differently, because there are several animations you can choose from. At the moment there are ten, which means that someone keeps moving in a slightly different way, looking around and looking you in the eye.

In addition, there are some special animations, such as laughing, dancing (more bouncing along to an imaginary tune) or an approving look. Not every animation works equally well with every photo, so for that reason it is nice that there is a lot of variation in animations. In addition, you always discover ‘a new side’ of a family member and you do not get bored with it so quickly. You can download each animation as a ready-made movie to your computer or smartphone, after which you can play it at any time without special AI software.

Because every photo is different, different animations are possible.

How does it work?

Just like with a performance by a magician or illusionist, the questions naturally arise: how does this work? What’s the trick? How on earth do they manage this? Even now it is not sorcery or magic and not even an illusion. It uses basic videos in which real people make a series of fixed movements. Deep Nostalgia can then project this very accurately onto a face in a historical photo, making it seem like your family comes to life.

Depending on the person’s position in the photo, a matching basic video and thus animation is automatically chosen. It is quite comparable to the so-called deep fake techniques with which you can now put your own face over someone else’s in a video. Are there more people in the photo? Currently, one face can move at a time, but you can specify who that should be. The underlying technology comes from D-ID, a company that specializes in synthetic media based on deep learning.

These are some frames from the automatically generated video.

Your younger me

You can see very broadly that you use Deep Nostalgia for historical photos. For example, there is nothing wrong with using a photo of yourself. Maybe there is little or no video material from your childhood available and then you will still get a nice impression because you see your younger self moving, laughing and looking around curiously.

You can also use a historical photo of a famous or famous person, who you are curious about what it would be like to meet them in real life. For example Albert Einstein, or whoever. There are historical film images of this scientist, but that is very different from when you make a film with Deep Nostalgia in which it seems as if you are looking each other in the eye. Free historical photos that you can use for this can be found on

It also works great with photos of historical celebrities.

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