Ridiculous Photo Enhancement Scene from the TV Show CSI

Magically enhancing photographs to solve crimes is a staple of crime and detective dramas. To ordinary folk who have never touched a program like Photoshop, the enhancement technology might sometimes seem believable — after all, government technology is always decades ahead of civilian tech, right? However, to anyone who has any experience in photo editing, it’s pretty obvious that certain things just aren’t possible. Completely changing the camera angle in a photo, for example.

The short clip above is one ridiculous example of the “enhance!” cliché. It aired in an episode of CSI a few years back, and the YouTube uploader shared it with the title, “Why I Don’t Watch CSI”.

What’s even more hilarious than the video itself are the comments left in response. Here are some of the gems:

  • “Was that security camera by any chance the Hubble Space Telescope?” — novyak1
  • “This is real guys, I learned it at ITT tech” — jgq85
  • “To do what they just did, you’d need a 20,000 megapixel image, making each frame 30 gigabytes. The entire video with that resolution (approximately 10 seconds of footage) would be 4.5 terabytes. Yet they managed to do this with a 240p video. LOGIC!” — soundbiteproductions
  • “Why don’t they keep zooming to the point they can see the DNA strands of the killer, then cross reference it in the DNA database to find his name. There you go, case closed…” — random28152
  • “I thought this only works when they both type at the same time.” — LaTrouvera
  • “Or if the crime is done on a rainy day, they could just take footage from one camera and zoom in on reflections off of raindrops and then zoom in on the raindrops in the reflections from the raindrops until they reach whichever location where the crime was committed and zoom in on the perpetrator.” — Zeigy

If you liked this clip, check out this compilation of enhance clips, this parody of the cliché, and this example of one TV show getting the facts right.

  • fast eddie

    My wife watches a lot of crime dramas, and I’m always scoffing when they do stuff like this :)

    First thing that comes to mind is Ramathorn from Super Troopers saying, “Enhance, enhance, enhance!” and the captain screaming “just print the goddamn thing already!”

    I have to wear headphones when I’m in the same room while editing in Lightroom or my wife gets irritated about how much smack I talk during the shows. If looks could kill, I’d be long dead by now!

  • Cezar Mihail Ignat

    Too bad the “resolution isn’t that good”.

  • Jeff Foster

    It’s not just the public that thinks this is possible. We had a break-in at our office months back. I played the security camera footage for the responding police officers. After watching it, they looked at me and asked, seriously, if I could “enhance” it for them or “make the resolution better”. I looked at them and said that only works in fictional TV shows.

  • Tavo

    Really funny

  • aseem

    Actually, the only fakery is that the camera probably isn’t that high resolution. Recovering images from eyes is not far-fetched:

  • rtfe

    “looks like a guy in a t-shirt”…puts on sunglasses

  • Tanja Schulte

    i agree is is crap to show this .. but 100% of all science fiction movies show impossible things.
    if it´s in the movies you have to learn to ignore certain things.
    i mean do you think you will walk around if you are shoot in an arm or a leg?
    that after 15 minutes a gun wound will not hurt anymore?

  • seriesrover

    Yeah well they only magnified 100 times – they should’ve gone in at least 200 times.

  • Tanja Schulte

    no of course it´s not…. IF you have an high resolution image.
    and that is the problem here.

    another thing .. have you noticed that you only have to press 3-5 keyboard shortcuts to make EVERYTHING possible with an PC?
    from creating a full 3D model to hacking the CIA database.
    it never takes more then a few keystrokes…..

    it´s so great when they say “hm.. that is very difficult …. but i try” .. and BANG… 5 keystrokes later the NSA server is hacked.

  • seriesrover

    Exactly. And James Bond has dodged seemingly thousands of machine gun rounds at close range and has dodged every one….and has yet he hasn’t missed killing hundreds of baddies with a small revolver in return fire.

    You’re absolutely right, its the movies / TV.

  • N Hancer

    I just received an email offering me “almost unbelievable enhancement” – this must have been what it was referring to…

  • Repo Lyman

    That reply certainly took more than a few keystrokes…

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    That surveillance camera must’ve been a D800…

  • Anthony Harrison


  • kendon

    bond uses a pistol almost exclusively.