People use TikTok’s photo animation effect to remember deceased loved ones


TikTok users use the app’s photo animation filter on themselves and on images of loved ones.

@_the_true_senpai _ / @ rainss.kk / TikTok

  • TikTok users use an in-app effect called “photo animation” to bring still images to life.
  • When it locks onto a face, the effect makes him smile, blink and move his eyes.
  • Users apply it to posters, photos of deceased loved ones, and art.
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TikTokers uses a new video effect on the app to animate posters, magazine covers, and photos of deceased family and friends.

The in-app effect, called “Photo Animation”, has been used in over 80,000 videos and gained popularity this week, triggering several parallel trends in which users are applying it to photos around their homes. Once the effect settles on a face, it begins to animate its features, causing the eyes to blink, smile and move the eyes of the person in the photo.

To use the effect, search for “photo animation” on TikTok and click on the effect search result. From there, you can add the effect to your favorites for access in TikTok’s video editor, or immediately shoot a video using it. To access the effect in the video editor itself, click the effects button to the left of the record button and find the app in your favorites.

In addition to celebrity photos or other images, many use the effect to resuscitate photos of family members they say are deceased. Some of these videos generated a wave of support in their comment sections, sometimes prompting users to post other videos remembering family members in the photos and sharing information about their lives.

“I tried this after seeing yours,” a commenter wrote under the @ rainss.kk video in which she applied the effect to photos of her mom. “I just wanted to say thank you. I got to see my grandma smile again.”

Another trend associated with the effect sees users applying the filter to a reflection of their face in a mirror, leading to a strange effect in which the mirror image has a different facial expression than the person themselves.

And, according to some TikTok videos, the effect doesn’t just work on photos – some users have also successfully applied it to artwork or collectible action figures.

This is not the first time that a photo animation effect has taken off on TikTok. PopSugar reported in March that users previously used a separate app called MyHeritage to animate photos of loved ones before uploading those results to TikTok.

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