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October 9, 2008 12:10 PM   Subscribe

A beautification engine developed by computer scientists from Israel. Before and After shots.
posted by gman (67 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
The before and after shots of the actor James Franco were almost indistinguishable, suggesting his classically handsome face is already pretty perfect.

Call me back when they add a de-smugfuck filter.
posted by rokusan at 12:11 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oddly, I tended to prefer the before picture in most cases.
posted by orthogonality at 12:16 PM on October 9, 2008 [10 favorites]


Actually, i don't buy it. I had to read the captions to work out which had been re-touched. I though Woody Allen actually looked worse after re-touching
posted by MrMerlot at 12:17 PM on October 9, 2008


Well that was certainly worth the time and effort! Yay science!
posted by chugg at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2008


I disagree. Re-touched Woody could probably score more of his own kids.
posted by gman at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


The touchups look almost exactly the same.

Tommer Leyvand, who developed the software with three others at Tel Aviv University and who works in development for Microsoft

Ah, got it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2008


It definitely fugged up Brigitte Bardot. And, interestingly, by taking away his slight smile, it changed Michael Cera's quirky, likeable homeliness into just plain ugly.
posted by Atom Eyes at 12:23 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Actually, i don't buy it. I had to read the captions to work out which had been re-touched. I though Woody Allen actually looked worse after re-touching

I agree. The program seems to make faces leaner, cleaner, and more symmetrical, but by such small amounts that it adds little to the face but a certain blandness. The computers don't really affect already pretty faces (like Franco's) and only drain the personality from plainer faces (like Allen's).
posted by Iridic at 12:24 PM on October 9, 2008




Oddly, I tended to prefer the before picture in most cases.

This is also the case with most plastic surgery imho.

Speaking of which, did Michelle Trachtenberg get her nose done recently? She looks different. Not as unique.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:27 PM on October 9, 2008


Fancy MS developers with their grants and their R&D funding. Don't they understand there are much easier paths to the same result?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:29 PM on October 9, 2008


Israeli computer scientists are really good at making press releases.

Martina Eckstut, the face of the article, is Crazy hot in the Before pic. She has very convincingly been rendered boring in the After.
posted by krilli at 12:39 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Previous MeFi discussion of this research.

This sure seems like something I'd rather see freely available (don't know if the impediment would be the scary math in their ACM paper or IP issues) than licensed to People or Facebook or whoever, since it'll result in a lot of automatic "beautification" like the debatable examples discussed above.

He also said he had heard from plastic surgeons interested in the software.

Talk about lazy...
posted by substars at 12:39 PM on October 9, 2008


Does it work with genitals?
posted by swift at 12:43 PM on October 9, 2008


Here's the thing. It doesn't work.
posted by MarshallPoe at 12:44 PM on October 9, 2008


Wow, the "before" looked better in 100% of them.
posted by jbickers at 12:45 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Are they joking? This program should be called Ugly-stick ©®™.

All those pictures looked better before. They remind me of sad photos of awkward undertaker jobs.
posted by JBennett at 12:48 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


The saddest part of this is in 3 years this will probably be touted as a feature (not an option) on the latest point and shoot digital cameras.
posted by JBennett at 12:50 PM on October 9, 2008


Michael Cera went from 'adorkable and paying interested, intelligent attention to you" to "creepy, staring over your shoulder and wondering when you're going to shut up."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2008


I can't see where exactly the program made an improvement? Where is society going when we begin to favour physical improvements made by technology rather than those created by nature?
posted by scarello at 12:56 PM on October 9, 2008


Imperceptible, or unfavorable differences. What a bunch of ninnies.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 12:56 PM on October 9, 2008


Wow, the "before" looked better in 100% of them.

Not 100%. It appears that the only person it works on is the inventor.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:03 PM on October 9, 2008


lol, fail.
posted by mullingitover at 1:05 PM on October 9, 2008


Since when does pushing someone's eyes together and levelling them out make anyone more attractive?

I had a chill come over me looking at the After photos here - my subconcious kept alarming, "there's something very off about this person".

Nature doesn't do perfect - the perfection lies in the singular and the unique, and in our ability to find that visually.

This software makes people appear as if they came out of some slightly defective clone farm.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 1:06 PM on October 9, 2008


In my opinion, it worked well for the woman pictured in the article itself.
posted by gman at 1:07 PM on October 9, 2008


I thought she went from striking to blandly pretty. The move from Ellen-Barkin-interesting to Sarah-Palin-Lancome-rep would be an improvement for some, I guess.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:14 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


But yes, the inventor's face did seem to get a boost from the digital shift. If making us look more like James Franco is the best it can do, I will hold off for now, thanks.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:17 PM on October 9, 2008


gmanPoster writes "In my opinion, it worked well for the woman pictured in the article itself."

Yep, that's the *only* picture it worked on, and it worked because she had her eyes opened way too wide in the original. The algorithm shrank them down to the size they'd be if they weren't intentionally bugged out.

As for the rest, you could swap out the before and after shots and nobody would know. I feel bad for the researchers who put themselves up for this kind of publicity, this thing isn't ready for prime time at all.
posted by mullingitover at 1:17 PM on October 9, 2008


I was going to write what mullingitover wrote, but he/she/it already wrote it.

So what he/she/it said.

But still, even if it worked I am trying to imagine who might use this software, and why? I mean, what, ad agencies think that these good-looking models are too expensive so they are going to hire not-quite-so-good-looking-and-cheaper models and then run all their pics through the "Beautify" filter in Photoshop?

As a science project, I'm not even sure what the value is.
posted by moonbiter at 1:22 PM on October 9, 2008


I thought Alison Bruce looked worse in the after shots, personally. Most of the rest were barely noticeable and not much 'better' either.
posted by delmoi at 1:22 PM on October 9, 2008


They really need to do the before/after as hover overs, so you can see what changed.
posted by smackfu at 1:28 PM on October 9, 2008


moonbiter writes "So what he/she/it said."

Like my flickr profile says, I'm male and shy until I get to know you.
posted by mullingitover at 1:42 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought it was kind of stupid because it didn't have any before shots with really ugly people. Show us a photo of someone whose face could split a log and then let's see how the tool does.
posted by GuyZero at 1:42 PM on October 9, 2008


the longer distance between her hairline and the bridge of the nose

I didn't know five-heads were the standard for beauty.
posted by owtytrof at 1:45 PM on October 9, 2008


it seems like the technique is aimed at the modesty market out there, i am one of those who liked most of the before pics.
posted by Substrata at 2:09 PM on October 9, 2008


The problem with this is, what everybody thinks is more beautiful, nobody thinks is more beautiful. 234 cooks spoil the broth.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:09 PM on October 9, 2008


More like a normativation or mediocritization engine.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:28 PM on October 9, 2008


couple of things i noticed:

1. woody allen in the retouch looked like a sad version of my grandfather, which was creepy as hell to see, letmetellyouwhut.

2. brando, it seems, has always been a weird lookin' dude.

3. it squeezed michael cera's whole face further into the middle of his head. it was like seeing a tiny face growing out of a beige beach ball.

4. i'm sorry, but if the only thing you can bother spending grant money on is 68 10 minute surveys and a tool to make faces slightly more symmetrical you shouldn't be given grant money. they say it makes faces leaner, but since the only evidence was brigitte bardot's awesome lips being made less awesome while franco's chin flap went unscathed i'm gonna go ahead and say that that functionality is still being worked on.
posted by shmegegge at 2:30 PM on October 9, 2008


To be fair it was probably a bad PR move to use so many famous faces, which we can't look at without also seeing all the associations we have with them.

And since Brando/Bardot/Cera/Allen are all basically well-loved faces to some extent, it would be interesting to run, say, Bush and Cheney through this and see whether they looked any better...
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 2:43 PM on October 9, 2008


Hmm, I remember the link from the previous mefi discussion of this topic had a "program demo - coming soon!" Seems to be gone now, and replaced with a "program screenshot" - would have been fun to play around with.
posted by porpoise at 2:48 PM on October 9, 2008


And since Brando/Bardot/Cera/Allen are all basically well-loved faces to some extent, it would be interesting to run, say, Bush and Cheney through this and see whether they looked any better...

You can't put lipstick on a pig.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:49 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


My self-esteem isn't high enough to have this done to my face. What if I came out looking completely different? That would be a blow to the ego.
posted by Shebear at 2:53 PM on October 9, 2008


I thought it was kind of stupid because it didn't have any before shots with really ugly people. Show us a photo of someone whose face could split a log and then let's see how the tool does.

WOODY ALLEN. But perhaps it's just that I can't see past what's inside.
posted by gman at 3:02 PM on October 9, 2008


We reward people who are more beautiful. But we also resist the idea that any person should try to change their appearance (maybe because it makes physical beauty less rare and valuable?).

I have to think there's some of that bias here. Only speculating, but I really believe if you didn't recognize these original faces and didn't understand that there was an artificial improvement at work... most people would pick the second photo as more attractive.
posted by specialfriend at 3:27 PM on October 9, 2008


Since when does pushing someone's eyes together and levelling them out make anyone more attractive?
Exactly - Shannen Doherty has distinctly uneven eyes, and isn't any less beautiful for it; and on that point, it looks to me that the software made Tommer Leyvand's eyes more, not less, uneven.

Speaking of the software: here's some more detail, and in August 2006, he promised to have an application up allowing for upload of photos ... "soon". Oh well.

To my tastes, the "aesthetic rank" of none of the people in the photographs changed at all, although their exact appearances changed. Martina Eckstut changed the most, and was the only one who wouldn't actually be recognizable (by me, and I daresay most people) from her altered photo; I perceive these as photos of two different, very attractive women.

These two look like they could split some logs.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:35 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Whoops, missed the link: here's some more detail.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:36 PM on October 9, 2008


As regards to retouching photographs -- the right-wing, conservative, Rebublican base are going ape-shit that Newsweek didn't touch-up the over photo of Palin.

FoxNews: "This cover is a clear slap in the face to Sarah Palin. Why? Because it's un-retouched." They spend 4:58 minuites on the issue. Manufactured outrage? Of, course. They've got nothing less about which to talk!
posted by ericb at 3:57 PM on October 9, 2008


*their cover photo of Palin*

*They've got nothing left about which to talk!*
posted by ericb at 3:59 PM on October 9, 2008


*4:58 minutes*

Yes ... honey ... I'll have another drink. Make it a double.
posted by ericb at 4:00 PM on October 9, 2008


'Average' is not 'better'; distinctiveness is just as valuable.

You could turn this into a caricature machine if you ran the averaging back the other way; I remember a Scientific American column about just such a thing back in the 90s or late 80s. (With simpler wireframe faces, of course.) It even provided the coordinates for the Average Face to work from, though I didn't have the coding chops back then to turn that into something fun to play with on my Commodore 64.
posted by egypturnash at 4:02 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hopefully everyone's seen it by now, but faceresearch.org has some fascinating demos to play with.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 4:24 PM on October 9, 2008


I think that technology uglifies people, not beautifies.
posted by nickyskye at 4:52 PM on October 9, 2008


I can't help noticing that the faces altered on the Siggraph demo page look a lot better in the afters than the ones in the NY Times article, and that the NY Times article is pretty critical of the idea.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:59 PM on October 9, 2008


No matter how long I stare, I can't tell the difference between before and after.
posted by dmd at 5:06 PM on October 9, 2008


I think this has a few more years to market:

* More ethnicities
* Many, many more data points with both subjects and raters
* Use of fMRI on the raters, so you'd get the true reaction, rather than what people say
* A 3D version, so you can work with a head scanner
* Ability to restrict alterations to only known surgical techniques, or subsets thereof ("Sure, I'd go blepharoplasty, but probably not craniofacial surgery." or "Leave the eyes alone, everything else is up for grabs")
* 10%, 20% ... 90% alteration rates, maybe something like Photoshop variations tools

At that point, you could pick your budget, look at a range of "nearby" faces you'd, and get a reasonable set of recommendations you could take to a plastic surgeon, perhaps one using some nice precision tools where the robots do all of the subtle work. It'd beat the crap out of taking pictures of yourself, reading up on various procedures for cosmetic surgery, propping open Gray's Anatomy, and going to town with Photoshop and various plug-ins.
posted by adipocere at 5:23 PM on October 9, 2008


Software that either does nothing or makes people uglier. Useful!
posted by DU at 6:01 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


So the James Franco "stoned" look is classically beautiful then?
posted by bwg at 6:04 PM on October 9, 2008


They should stick a conditional in the inner loop:

if (eyes.already_big()) dont_mess_with(eyes);
posted by scope the lobe at 6:16 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here is a video related to the main article, as well as a copy of the abstract. (some of the more convincing pics too)
posted by samsara at 6:30 PM on October 9, 2008


It seems a slippery slope from this software to oh my god get it away!!!
posted by rokusan at 6:40 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here is a video related to the main article

Neat, they have an application to do this. Can anyone find it?
posted by smackfu at 6:58 PM on October 9, 2008


Nature doesn't do perfect - the perfection lies in the singular and the unique, and in our ability to find that visually.

Oh, nature does perfect, if by perfect you mean symmetry. And yes, we tend to find natural symmetry more beautiful.

What you can't do is take an asymmetrical face and crank the "symmetry" scrollbar to the right and expect the result to look natural and therefore beautiful. In the same way a blonde can look beautiful but a bad dye job with clashing skin tone does not.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 8:56 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think this is really hard to do with faces we recognize...those come pre-loaded with judgments. For the data point, I thought all the afters, except Cera, were better. (I like Cera all 'messed up')
posted by iamkimiam at 7:13 AM on October 10, 2008


Seems more like "Israeli scientists" have created a computer program that strips people of features less common in Europe.

I could have easily told you the woman on the left was West Asian (a standard look for Lebanon and Israel), but not with the modification. Woody Allen was stripped of identifiable Ashkenazi appearance.

This may suggest that the computer is findings common beauty standards, but kind of suggests against all the standards being hard-wired. The large nose shapes you find in the near east, and other dry areas of extreme cold or heat, allow air to be cooled/warmed and moistened before passage into the lungs. This is an obvious target of natural selection, and easy to see how it could have persisted there even if people considered it inherently somewhat more ugly: natural selection outweighed sexual selection.

On the other hand Jews from that region have been in Europe for over 1000 years, and yet still retain the semitic nose shape. But if the nose shape was inherently less attractive, and the unique climactic pressures were removed, then it would have disappeared over the centuries due to sexual selection for smaller noses. So this suggests the smaller nose preference is recent and cultural.

One additional possibility, I suppose, is that big noses are inherently unattractive but persisted among European Jews due to some other selective advantage. Maybe it was preferred because it signaled authentic ethnic membership.
posted by dgaicun at 7:32 AM on October 10, 2008


At last we can see pictures of Marlon Brando without cringing.

Let's be thankful it wasn't a beatification engine.
posted by ersatz at 8:50 AM on October 10, 2008


Beauty is in the eye of the Microsoft engineer.
posted by mazola at 3:49 PM on October 10, 2008


I found it difficult to tell the difference in the most of the photos.
posted by The Eponymous Pseudonymous Rex at 11:44 PM on October 10, 2008


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