Edge of Apocalypse: pages 265-268 (Chapter Forty-Six)
Along with that, have a kick-ass Cotton Eye Joe dance style remix. 😀 (note: the image in the youtube is somewhat NSFW, it’s a still of a scantily clad woman.)
So, John Gallagher’s ready to do his FBI thing, as he’s hot on the trail of Atta Zimler and is damn close, he feels, to actual proof that Zimler was present in the USA! He’s gonna miss his flight, so he decides to book a train trip instead that’ll get him into New York first thing the next morning.
Meanwhile, he’s viewing surveillance footage.
Gallagher’s eyes were fixed on the paper-thin flat-screen monitor on the wall.
The time and date were running in the lower right-hand corner of the black-and-white video as the image of an empty corporate building lobby was cast on the screen.
“Sorry they didn’t use color footage. But these building owners always go the cheap route.”
“No, this is better,” Gallagher muttered. “Black-and-white gives you better definition. At least for what I want.”
I have no idea if B&W is actually better for what he wants to do, but I have heard it said that sometimes photographic negatives can reveal more about a picture than the picture itself, because the negative has higher contrast. So perhaps the better contrast you can get in B&W is what Gallagher’s hoping to benefit from.
Roll some film, and … Bammo!
“Stop there!” Gallagher shouted out.
They froze the frame.
A man of medium height. Well dressed. Broad shoulders. Confident strut. But his head was slightly turned away from the camera.
A shiver crawled up Gallagher’s spine.
The tech guy brought the image closer. It blurred a little with magnification.
Gallagher stared at it. He had to know. Was it Atta Zimler?
Well, this part’s realistic – Parshall notes the blurring with magnification, which you might expect, since the original video has finite resolution.
Okay,” he said, “roll it, but very slowly, frame-by-frame.”
So the tech did.
The man in the lobby, as he was caught in each sequential, choppy frame, had kept his face turned away.
And just then, as the man in the lobby was approaching the elevator doors, he gave a side glance toward the watch on his left wrist, revealing about half of his face.
Got ‘im! 😀
Now for some of the technical stuff that might be a bit iffy and veering into the CSI type zoom-and-enhance thing:
The tech magnified the frame until a face could be partially seen.
Gallagher walked right up to the screen. He touched it with his index finger.
“I know it’s you. I know it!”
Then Gallagher wheeled around. “Can we get an immediate high def JPG image of this emailed to somebody?”
First, the extra magnification might cause enough blurring that even having a close-up to help facial identification might fail to work. Second, JPG is lossy. Gallagher would not want this, since the image extraction would drop stuff the algorithm “knows” isn’t important to the average human eye viewing an average image (e.g. a photograph of, say, your new tree you planted in the backyard), but in his case, if he wants the best shot at getting that image processed, he ought to ask for a PNG, which is lossless normally.
After Gallagher’s on his way to the train, he calls the image processing guru to get a rush on that picture identification.
On his way to the railroad station, Gallagher called the private home number of Sally Borcheck, the facial ID guru at the Bureau.
She was watching TV. After nine rings she picked up.
“Sally, it’s John Gallagher here.”
“Geez, John, I’m here at home in my pj’s. What’s up?”
He manages to convince her it’s pretty damn important, and we get more of the CSI style zoom-and-enhance business:
“Where’s the image from?”
“Lobby surveillance footage.”
She groaned again.
“Those are usually pretty lousy.”
“You’re a genius. You can make it unlousy.”
She won’t be able to add resolution that wasn’t there in the first place, though. And to be fair, this isn’t like the story in the TV Tropes page of literally four pixels somehow resolving into a totally clear face. 😀
I’ll mostly give Parshall a pass on this since a lot of people are conditioned (through TV shows like CSI, as well as movies) to believe computers can enhance just about anything, and in that paradigm, this portion of the chapter kinda sits in between the very realistic touch-ups on surveillance photos of suspects in ATM fraud or the like, and the ridiculous Enemy of the State style 3D rotate and reveal kind of enhancement.
We’ll revisit Bill Cheavers next section.