Many of us have been awed by the amazing technologies portrayed in the Hollywood productions, in both television shows and movies, which allow the good guys to catch the bad guys. Although entertaining, it's amazing how many people assume these capabilities are real without any hesitation. I personally find it fun to explore these capabilities a little deeper to ascertain if the necessary technology is real, fantasy, or somewhere in between. Of particular interest to me are the incredible imaging systems and image processing methods we see in the Hollywood productions. A great example is the incredible ability of investigators to “zoom and enhance” images to obtain finer and finer details until they have the critical piece of evidence necessary to put the bad guy away.
When we wish to see better details in an image, our first attempt is usually to zoom in on the area of interest by magnifying the image to a larger scale. We may also enhance the contrast and even use a sharpening filter to see the details better in the image. This seems pretty straightforward, but Hollywood productions lead us to believe that our experience is different from the experiences in crime labs or secret research facilities. The television shows and movies seem to indicate that there is really more information in the image than simple folks like us can pull out. As a matter of fact, it seems that the technicians working on the image seem to forget that they have this amazing capability until the star of the show suggests it to them. I'm waiting for the time a technician says “Seriously? I wouldn't be good at my job if I hadn't already thought of that!” So can investigators really zoom and enhance these images to the incredible level of detail we see in the Hollywood productions? My haircutter certainly believes so.
Questioning the amazing results we see from the zoom and enhance process portrayed in the Hollywood productions gives us a great opportunity to delve into a tutorial on the image resolution that a digital camera and image processing can really provide. The specific example that we will explore is the depicted capability of crime scene investigators to zoom and enhance on the reflection of an eye in an image to reveal the identity of an assailant.
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