I confess: I’ve never really thought about taking a still photo and adding both my voice and some animation so that it looks like my photo is speaking. Still, that’s exactly what PhotoSpeak does, and I wound up fascinated with the $3 app from MotionPortrait.
Photospeak relies on a simple concept, moving all the complicated work behind the scenes. You simply select a photo of someone’s face (either from the Photos app, or taken with the iPhone’s built-in camera) and crop it to fit. A straight, fairly tight shot with eyes open, and mouth closed works best—I tested a number of photos that didn’t work because the person was wearing sunglasses or angled the wrong way.
After you select the photo, you upload it to MotionPortrait’s servers. In about a minute-and-a-half, the photo returns in animated form. The eyes blink, while the head turns from side to side.
The first time I tried PhotoSpeak, I was amazed. The results are much more accurate and lifelike than I expected.
You can also record a number of your own audio tracks, which you can then add to the animated images. Combine the audio and animated photo, and your image has suddenly come to life.
It’s surprising how well it all works, but also a bit creepy in the same way that those talking baby commercials are creepy. The fun sort of creepy, I guess.
The latest version of PhotoSpeak now allows you to upload your final product to YouTube, and e-mail notices to your friends. This is a handy way to share, but the quality of the image really seemed to suffer. When possible, I’d stick to showing people your Photospeak handiwork on your iPhone.
Photospeak also seems to contain an Easter egg. If you tap the photo on the screen a few times, the app adds a more eye-catching hairdo and sunglasses to the image—an extra bit of goofy fun.
Photospeak is a simple, fun concept that delivers surprisingly impressive results. It can take a bit of time to find a photo that really works well, but when you find it, you’ll get a good laugh from the outcome.