Zoom, Rotate. Wait! Enhance that reflection!

Category: , By Rev/Views

One of my favourite things to mock in police procedural type shows (amongst others) is the old Hollywood standby of digital enhancement. The short YouTube video above is a great example of just how prevalent this trope actually is. It's almost as common as the dreaded 'Will They/Won't They' and it's pretty much the key mechanism used to drive the plot in Rising Sun (the quintessential "enhance that picture" story).

I'd love to launch into a long rant about the ridiculousness of the trope, covering the hackneyed nature of it and the obvious crutch it provides for any CSI type show. Unfortunately I can't, because it turns out that technology can enhance pictures in this fashion, sharpening the image and using mathematical algorithms to fill in any blanks or blurred areas. So our dear friends in La-La land aren't as far off from the truth as we all thought (and hoped). Looks like fiction has predicted future technology once again.

"To do that, the algorithm takes the incomplete image and starts trying to fill in the blank spaces with large blocks of color. If it sees a cluster of green pixels near one another, for instance, it might plunk down a big green rectangle that fills the space between them. If it sees a cluster of yellow pixels, it puts down a large yellow rectangle. In areas where different colors are interspersed, it puts down smaller and smaller rectangles or other shapes that fill the space between each color. It keeps doing that over and over. Eventually it ends up with an image made of the smallest possible combination of building blocks and whose 1 million pixels have all been filled in with colors.

That image isn’t absolutely guaranteed to be the sparsest one or the exact image you were trying to reconstruct, but Candès and Tao have shown mathematically that the chance of its being wrong is infinitesimally small. "

You can read the full article here on Wired.

It looks like you win this one Caruso!


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