Has your timeline been filled with graphic-novel-esque versions of your friends’ faces all year? Mine, too.
Prisma was released in June. By July 14th, the makers announced that they’d hit 1 million daily users.Now, it's been crowned the Best App of the Year in the Google Playstore. For an app that’s not a social media platform or a game, that’s insane progress.
Clearly, everyone’s was bitten by the Prisma bug this year. Here’s why:
It Completely Reinvents Photos
Made by app developers in Moscow, the app transforms photos using different painting and drawing styles, including the styles of famous painters like Monet or Van Gogh. Using AI and neural networks, it literally draws your photos from a blank canvas. The result is something resembling a work of art, dark and moody or bright and colourful, in fantastic shades and strokes.
Apps that edit photos to make them cooler have been around for years. Hello, Instagram.
But unlike Instagram, Prisma doesn’t just add an overlay to your pictures. It creates it like a real artist would, which is really fucking cool.
It’s Super Easy to Use
An app’s not going to blow up unless it’s built for ease of understanding and use.
When it comes to Prisma, the fact that people are so familiar with Instagram helps, since the process is pretty similar. You choose a photo from your gallery, crop it, and then choose from a huge number of filters.
The filters themselves are art styles, like gothic or impression, based on actual paintings, like The Scream by Edvard Munch, or based on popular graphic art, like DC comic illustrations. Just like Instagram, you can adjust the intensity of the filter before you finally share and save it.
It does feel a little slow, though. When Alexey Moiseenkov found a computer algorithm that could convert images into artwork, he worked on it with his team to make it function as fast as possible. The original algorithm took between 10 minutes to an hour to process a single image. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
Now, the app takes a few seconds to process each filter, which can get a little irritating when you want to try out several of them on one photo. #FirstWorldProblems
You have to wait for that little triangle to fill up. It can take up to 10 seconds, which is like a year on the internet.
It Uses Cutting-Edge Tech
The way Prisma works is similar to Google’s DeepDream software that took the internet by storm last year.
When you use a Prisma filter on your photos, three different neural networks go to work on it. They function together to analyse the image and the art style of the filter you chose and then create a new image for you.
Think about it: you give a really smart network of computers your photo. They analyse it and draw it from scratch in a particular style, like a human artist would. In fact, this has led to some concerns about whether the app devalues the work of real artists, since it can kinda do what they do in seconds, rather than the hours or days that it would take them.
Moiseenkov told TechCrunch that the app will soon be able to suggest the best filters for a particular photo, by analysing the objects in it. This’ll save you a lot of time, since new filters are being added constantly. Who wants to try out 40+ filters on the same photo just to see which looks best?
Well, me. It’s addictive. But I have too much free time on my hands.
The app may also be able to do short, GIF-like video cycles soon, like Boomerang.
And Then It Came to Videos!
In October, the app became capable of supporting 15-second video clips on iOS.
Fans of the app had been eagerly awaiting the feature ever since Moiseenkov posted a sneak peek on Facebook.
And even though it hadn’t been optimised for video then, the band Drive Like Maria has somehow used the app to create their new music video, and the results were stunning.
Now, you can transform short videos into moving paintings, and you'll soon be able to do the same for GIFs. It takes longer than it does to weave artwork out of pictures, of course, but just look what it can do to even a boring video of a hallway:
To leave you with one last thing to look forward to, Moiseenkov also said he wants to expand the app’s deep-learning-based visual transformation technology to VR someday.
Will the computers rise up and kill us one day? Who cares, when they can make my entire life look this cool.