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Prisma turned a time lapse of China into a beautiful animated movie


Prisma, an incredibly popular iOS app that’s now available on Android, uses AI to “paint” over images in the style of any of a number of famous artists. It works quite well for still images, and even turns the average selfie into something actually worth sharing. But as District 7 Media found out on a recent trip to China, the app is also capable of producing some absolutely stunning time-lapse video footage.

For anyone who has used Prisma, this may come as a surprise, as the app doesn’t currently support video. (Prisma Labs has announced that it’s working on implementing the capability for future releases.) Instead, District 7 shot the entire video frame by frame within the app, one still image at a time. “After 80 hours of post production and 2,500 individual frames, we were able to complete this tedious project and hand-stitch it all together,” the company writes on its Facebook page. “The result is an immersive experience that paints a completely different picture from reality.”

Prisma is unique in that its renderings aren’t actually filters. The app completely redraws the image from scratch, using an advanced, deep-learning method that simply uses the source photo as a reference. As evidenced by District 7’s video, this results in footage that looks very much like a painted animation.

District 7 says it plans to release a side-by-side comparison between the original and the Prisma versions of the time lapse later this week.

Announced earlier this month, Prisma racked up over 7.5 million downloads on iOS in its first week in the app store. It’s proven equally as popular on other platforms — a beta version for Android hit the Google Play store on July 19, and was so popular that it was taken down the very next day, according to The Next Web. Android and iOS users can download the free app from their respective app stores.

Updated on 07-25-2016 by Kyle Wiggers: Added news of public Android release. 

Article originally published July 2016. 

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