This Freaky TikTok Filter Brings Photographs to Life

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A TikTok filter that lets you animate photos takes TikTok users deeper into the strange valley than they ever have before.

The app’s built-in filter, called “photo animation”, gives physical characteristics to still images, such as photographs, posters or tattoos, making people smile or blink to make them look realistic. It’s that feeling you get when the eyes of a painting follow you as you walk, but about 100 million times scarier.

TikTok creator @gavinjgarvey used the filter on a tattoo of a woman, who immediately started blinking and smiling demurely. “I’m too stoned for this,” he wrote, succinctly expressing the sheer terror induced by the filter. Turns out, the “photo animation” filter is still unsettling, even if you’re sober.

Deepfake-esque filters like this are nothing new. the MyHeritage Deep Nostalgia and the Avatarify program, both of which also animate faces, took off on TikTok earlier this year. Last summer, TikTok added a policy against deepfake technology, prohibiting “synthetic or manipulated content that misleads users by misrepresenting the truth of events in a way that could cause harm.” This filter doesn’t seem to go that far unless you’re planning on, uh, feeling scared.

Now some users are using the photo animation filter to bring back a dead loved one, using it to animate their faces in old photos, a kind of emotional experience that comes straight out of a blurred area episode.

But because it’s TikTok, you know there will be at least some levity. Other creators have used it for less emotionally taxing purposes, such as animating the faces of celebrities on posters or magazine covers. Leave it to the strong Dusk community to make us laugh, like TikTok creator @mariellegreguski, who used the filter to animate Robert Pattinson’s face on a pair of Dusk underwear – the TwiHard the community remains supreme!

The filter works on anything with a face, so action figures and dolls can also come to life if you’re into that sort of thing. You can even use it on your own reflection in the mirror to see a second, inhuman version of yourself trapped behind the glass. Anyone who’s ever wanted to play out a Jordan Peele thriller fantasy, We, it is now! Horror movie writers and A24 executives need only head to their FYP pages for inspiration for their next bizarre venture.

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