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King of rock and old

On the eve of what would have been the 70th birthday of Elvis Presley, scientists have created a computer-generated image of how the King would have looked today if he were still alive.

As the legend lives on with the re- release of Jailhouse Rock to co- incide with the anniversary, the psychologists and computer scientists at the University of St Andrews have created an image of what might have been.

The image, created using the latest in computer technology, shows the King as a 70 year old with his trademark raven mane intact. The singer died aged 42 twenty-seven years ago. Had he lived, he would have been 70 tomorrow (Saturday 8th January 2005).

Dr Bernard Tiddeman and Professor David Perrett use ‘ageing’ software to reproduce the natural effects of aging, taking into account changes in skin texture, hairline and hair colour.

The process of ageing was mimicked by changing the texture and shape of the original image to simulate the changes in the skin that would occur between the ages of 40 and 70.

The team have previously created aged images of Hollywood stars Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, who both suddenly died at a young age. Last year, they created an image of how John Lennon might have looked had he lived to be 64.

Though a previous aged image of Elvis illustrated a grey haired King, there was no attempt made this time to change the hair colour.

Professor Perrett commented: “In the newly generated image there was no attempt to change the appearance of the hair. Indeed Elvis in common with many celebrities may have chosen to use artificial hair and hair colour. While plastic surgery is often used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, the underlying skin texture and blotchy appearance may still give away the age of a person’s face.”

The ageing software first produces average faces by blending together face images from many individuals. The average of a young group and another of the old group are used to define an ageing transform which can be applied to an individual face. The same software can also change the face in other ways such as changing the apparent sex, race or even perceived personality attributes and can also produce artificial art using blends of portraits.

The aging software could be used for assisting with missing person enquiries, particularly those who have been missing for many years and will look considerably different.

Dr Tiddeman said: “This technology was designed to help psychologists understand how our brains interpret faces, an immensely important social function, helping us to recognise friends, choose a mate or read people’s emotions.

“The software has found several other applications including in entertainment, facial surgery planning and to help find wanted or missing persons. Although we can predict how Elvis might have looked today we can never predict the music he might have produced had his life not been cut so tragically short.”

Those interested in seeing how they will look in the future, can use simplified software to transform their own image at the Perception Lab’s webpage: http://www.perceptionlab.com

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS:

Professor Perrett specialises in how the visual system recognises facial attributes and previous research has examined facial symmetry and attractiveness. He is head of the Perception Laboratory which develops software to manipulate facial images.

Dr Tiddeman extended the software to model skin texture while working in the Perception Laboratory and is now a lecturer in Computer Science specialising in computer graphics.

NOTE TO PICTURE EDITORS:

A JPEG OF THE AGED ELVIS IS AVAILABLE FROM GAYLE COOK – CONTACT DETAILS BELOW. THE IMAGE MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY THE CREDIT: “IMAGE PRODUCED BY DR B. TIDDEMAN, COMPUTER SCIENCE / PERCEPTION LAB, UNIVERSITY OF ST ANDREWS, www.perceptionlab.com¿

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook on 01334 467227, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: Elvis at 70 pr 070104.doc View the latest University news at http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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