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The face of change

A visage-swapping video will make you wonder who you're watching.


Kevin Collier


Posted on Sep 20, 2011   Updated on Jun 3, 2021, 2:40 am CDT

Arturo Castro, a developer at, has developed a stunning video that showcases realtime “face-swapping” techology. In it, he shows his own face with other people’s pictures superimposed over it, ranging from Marilyn Monroe and Chairman Mao to Steve Jobs and Andy Warhol. The effect can be eerie.

Simple, flat portraits, some of them black and white, match Castro’s own colors and the shape of his head. Even as he moves and changes his facial expression, the swapped faces stays somewhat intact.

“This kind of technology has been possible since some time ago, or at least it was imaginable that something like this could be done,” Castro said in an interview. “It’s just now its accessible to anyone with some programming skills.”

His video description includes links to a three C++ libraries of codes that savvy viewers can use to face-swap at home.

His next step: using this technology to make art. “I’ll be turning this into an installation soon,” he said. He cites lalalab, an art center based in Valencia, Spain, and electronic musician Apex Twin as inspirations. Both have recently created videos using face-swapping technology. Both those use a simpler technique, though, which doesn’t allow control over the superimposed face.

Castro is gauging the response before he decides what direction his art will take. “I actually published this video to do some kind of research, to see what people reactions are,” he says.

Vimeo commenters are already chiming in about possible uses. “Would be useful for chatroulette,” replied Vormplus.

“Another huge step for the benefit of the porn industry!!” said proconpictures.

Even Kevin Atkinson, the creator of the realtime image cloning library Casatro uses, chimed in on the video’s Vimeo page.  “I imagine you could grab a face from another camera, and hence steal someone else’s face in real time,” he said.

So far, the reactions aren’t what Arturo expected.

“I was expecting creepy and fun/hilarious,” he says. “But I was a little surprised by the people who say ‘Oh, the future is scary.'”

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*First Published: Sep 20, 2011, 9:19 pm CDT