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3D photo-editing tool lets you manipulate 2D photos

In what will surely take photobombing memes to another level, university researchers have created a three-dimensional photo editing tool that lets you rotate and animate objects in two-dimensional photographs.

Students at Carnegie Mellon University say the tool will let people turn or flip objects in a single photo and even show bits of them that weren't captured in the original shot.

According to the researchers, 3D manipulation is possible by aligning publicly available stock 3D models to the geometry of an object in the photo and then applying consistent colours, textures and lighting - read the full university paper.

"In the real world, we’re used to handling objects -- lifting them, turning them around or knocking them over," said Natasha Kholgade, a PhD student at the Robotics Institute and lead author of the study.

"We’ve created an environment that gives you that same freedom when editing a photo. Instead of simply editing 'what we see' in the photograph, our goal is to manipulate 'what we know' about the scene behind the photograph".

Though the system was designed to work using digital imagery, the researchers say it can also be used to manipulate images within historical photos and paintings. It can also be used to animate photos, such as manipulating a picture of an origami bird so that it flaps its wings and flies away.