Crazy Talk, a software application that allows a user to add voice messages to a photograph, has been unveiled at this year’s Mac World Expo, MacWord is reporting. The software allows for converting a still photograph into an image that appears to be speaking. AppleInsider says the software can automatically animate faces.
Most television viewers have grown accustomed to seeing animals or human babies onscreen looking like they are speaking – ads for E*Trade are just one example. To make such video costs thousands and in some cases millions of dollars. Crazy Talk is just one tiny baby step in that direction. It allows a person to make a still photograph look like its talking. At the Expo, engineers rigged up a computer with both a microphone and speaker that allowed visitors to speak and then to hear themselves being mimicked by an onscreen cat.
The software is a significant step forward for both audio and video applications on a computer, MacWorld says. It demonstrates an ability to transfer knowledge gained from very expensive applications, such as those done by Hollywood, and apply it in a way that ordinary people can use for fun – and for relatively little cost, just $30.
AppleInsider says the software is able to do what it does through a two-step process. The first is pattern recognition. In order to make a mouth look like it’s moving, the software has to first know that the picture shows something that has a mouth, and where it is. From there, it identifies certain features that are part of mouth moving – lips, nose, etc. The next step is to generate a series of sub-pictures – representations of the original with the mouth placed in different positions. After that, it’s all about making the mouth move in conjunction with the words that are being played.
MacWorld says it’s just a matter of time before the software is upgraded to include video. That, they say, is likely to open a whole can of worms. What happens when millions or billions of people are able to create video of someone saying something that they never actually said? A video could be created of a person admitting to a crime, for example, or spreading gossip, or worse perhaps, divulging secrets that could be harmful to others. Mac World notes that a late-night comedian has already created a Crazy Talk version of Osama Bin Laden spewing expletives from the grave.
Crazy Talk is being made available for sale immediately from the Apple Store for those who wish to get in on the latest computer gimmick.