Average Looking

Average Looking

I occasionally get “Hey, you look like (insert name of famous person)”. I’m assuming most people get this at one time or other. The ones I get most often, in descending order of frequency, are: Michael J Fox, Colin Firth and Elijah Wood. Recently, a friend pointed out I looked a bit like Jason Bateman, so add that to the list. My first reaction – and probably yours too – is that these actors don’t look anything like each other. At least I’d never mistake one of them for another. So what is it that people see in them that they think looks like me?

Well, I found this demo app on the Face Research website that will take several faces and average them. I grabbed these four images and uploaded them. Probably not the best choices but it’s really hard to find head-on photos of celebrities.

I uploaded all four photos, marked the faces with dots indicating key features and averaged them. Here’s the result:

Interesting effect. The averaged face seems to filter out a lot of the idiosyncrasies of the individuals, leaving you with a fairly bland face that highlights only the common features. What I’m seeing is: pointy nose, large forehead with a hairline that comes down a bit in the middle, wide jaw and a slightly bewildered look.

I also took three images of myself in various poses and ran them through the face averager to see how it compared. Even on three images of the same person, the averaging tends to wash out the idiosyncrasies and leave you with the gross configuration of features.

And here are the averaged images side-by-side.

So, yeah, kinda sorta looks like me but with nicer hair and better lighting.

Odd thing about that Fox / Firth / Wood / Bateman blend: I can sorta see Colin Firth and Michael J Fox but I don’t really see much of Elijah Wood or Jason Bateman in the image. Not sure why that would be. Might have to do a separate post on that one…

Steve consists of approximately 60% water and 40% organic molecules, arranged in a configuration that is, among over things, capable of describing itself in this manner.

6 Comments

  1. We should figure out what the average Mad Art Laber looks like.

  2. Might be fun. Anyone else up for it?

  3. I’m down. I just hope my half-blonde/half-brown right eyebrow doesn’t skew the data. What say the rest of the gang?

  4. Whoa! Was this in the news recently?

    Nadir posted this http://sci-ence.org/hot-or-not/ at sci-ence and approximately the same time as you posted this story here.

    It’s kind of blowing my mind right now.

  5. Don’t know if it was in the news recently, but I posted this after my friend made the Jason Bateman remark. I thought “huh, that’s a new one…” and off I went. The moral here is, never make a casual comment near me unless you want it to get turned into an experiment. :-D

  6. Extra weird! I guess that leaves me no choice but to chalk it up to gaia and global consciousness. I ship out for woo-camp next week. Was nice knowing you all.

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