I had some high hopes recently that Facebook had some kind of cool Thumbnail Cropping intelligence in its galleries. In a previous article, Facebook came up with a crop wildly different yet every bit as cool as the photographer’s original. It got me to wondering if Facebook had some kind of face-detection system and cropping algorithm that made thumbnails of non-square, non-landscape images look good in the 4:3 thumbnail cell.
I decided to test it with some images from a recent infant shoot. I had a wonderful round pink face with very dark eyes against a blue background. The thought being that these would be easy to face-detect.
Boy was I wrong. The four images across the top all look like FB was doing some cool estimating in the thumbnail crop. Turns out it was just dumb luck (with two portrait and two landscape images). The poor little guy in the bottom row was cropped mercilessly. If any intelligent design exists in FB’s thumbnail cropping, it isn’t apparent here. Who would click on that last photo?
How does upstart Google+ fare?
The galleries display very differently in Google+ and they use a square fanned preview in the album mode. It helps a little but it doesn’t appear to be seeing the face. In the gallery display mode there was no cropping occurring. See the image below.
Admittedly more testing is needed but I think Face Recognition with intelligent cropping is a must for social media websites. After all who is going to click on a forehead with a beret?
Makes me wonder-what happens to a panorama…
Rikk Flohr © 2011