Creepy Fun

MyHeritage’s AI feature makes a short film out of your ancestor’s face

Haters might say it's creepy to deepfake your grandpa, but we’re committed to letting people enjoy things.

Just over a year ago, genealogy platform MyHeritage released a feature called Deep Nostalgia™ to animate your long-dead family members based on a family photo. The feature set social media ablaze (The Verge went as far as calling it “the main character on Twitter”) as some people brought their deceased loved ones to “life” (at least with pixels), and others set out to make the creepiest deepfakes possible.

LiveStory — This week, MyHeritage and technology partner D-ID released a new feature called LiveStory that creates more than just a several-second clip. Instead, LiveStory produces a minutes-long video of your ancestor telling their life story. The clip includes lip-synced audio that can either be manually written by you or automatically generated by MyHeritage. Thirty-one different languages are supported at launch.

Deepfake your grandpa — Live a little Black Mirror, a little wholesome, and 100 percent interesting. To ward off misuse of the service, MyHeritage requires users to agree to only use LiveStory on deceased individuals and to avoid “obscene, offensive, defamatory or false information, or any content which could violate the privacy of other people.”

D-ID — The tech side of the project is powered by the patent-pending Speaking Portrait Technology developed by AI company D-ID, which specializes in facial movement. The tech has been used in a Warner Bros Harry Potter exhibition, among other things.

I tried it out for myself on a photo of my great-grandmother, and the video was generated in less than a minute. While the face’s animation seemed artificial and the default voice used for her sounded a bit too similar to a voicemail recording to make me feel nostalgic, I was surprised that the process was so easy.

MyHeritage uses a freemium model, with subscriptions ranging from free to $299 per year. With the free account, you can use the LiveStory feature a few times before MyHeritage asks you to upgrade your subscription.

More about MyHeritage — Released in 2003 and headquartered in Or Yehuda, Israel, MyHeritage allows its users to obtain and organize family trees using the site’s database of 16 billion historical records, as well as by selling genetic testing kits.

You can also colorize old photos using the service. Here’s a before-and-after of a 1932 photo of my great-grandma and her friend being goofy at the beach.

via Annie Rauwerda