CSI: Why it breaks the sound barrier for shark jumping

January 7, 2011 - Humour, Programming

Ok, now, to be fair, it was an OK show for the first while. Up until about the time they decided they needed all sorts of different cities where everybody happens to fit into a perfect role whereby each freaking story from nearly any other of the shows could simply be transplanted to another with names changed and nobody would be the wiser. Add to that the overly flashy effects like they just found the freaking effects toolbar in Adobe Premiere, and their insipid understanding of basic computer forensics (which is practically what the god-damned show is about) and you’ve got a recipe for WTF.

For example:


It’s just… WHERE TO BEGIN. When the hell did “this is real-time” translate into “creating a GUI interface” what the hell does the GUI have to do with it? or IPs? And what the hell, I would have never guess ANY of their machines ran Windows, they sure don’t look it. Why are the interfaces shown all god damned flashy and everything is green and when it searches for a suspect is always shows every single one it’s looking through, which increases the time it takes to do the search by a bajillion times, and of course with every one the interface draws all sorts of random gibberish that point out, say various bits of fingerprints, wether it’s authentic or not (as in wether those are key points to compare) is irrelevant, since the computer doesn’t need to draw the bloody thing to compare things. I mean, it’s neat in a “well at least they tried” sort of way, or it would be, if they tried. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some of their “fancy interfaces” that use some sort of weird garbely background. I swear there was one where the background was just a bunch of freaking 1’s and zeros. as if to say “hey, look, I’m a COMPUTER! see! ONES AND ZEROS! HAHA!”

Or that whole magical interface where they can enhance damn well anything… it’s “digital” right, that means it recorded everything, like some sort of star trek holotape or something. Which gives us examples like this

First, notice that at around 21 seconds they have decided to stop focussing on images and decided it was time to fire up Fruity Loops’ studio. What particular task music composition software could have in a investigators arsenal leaves me stymied.

And then…
And then this is the good bit
They MAGNIFY the REFLECTION off of the girls eye. I mean, seriously, were the writers on some sort of dopamine where every idea felt like a warm fluffy pillow of sanity when it was really a giant pile of nonsense spewed from a eternal geyser of improbability? particularly improbable would be doing this “enhancement” with Microsoft Word.

I’m friggin serious. The menubar says File,Edit,View,Format, Tools,Table,Help:

Warranted, it’s a bit hard to see it due to the low resolution, but I mean- compare it to this one- from my installed version of word. The toolbars are in a different place and I’ve customized some buttons, but damn near everything in their shot is present:

I mean… wow. Just look at it. It’s hard to consider that the toolbar ISN’T WORD, and considering the menu bar is most definitely word, even looking through the youtube drunk-o-vision of blurriness it’s hard to come up with alternate menu names that aren’t nonsense.

The nail in the coffin is the upper-right corner. When I first tried to read that bit of text, I thought maybe it said “I hear pokemon in fridges” which seemed a bit non-sequiter even for CSI, but It almost certainly is a bit from that  “Type here for help” widget that I have. Now, warranted, the toolbars are in a different configuration, but almost every button on there is a word menu. not counting the suspiciously covered up area on the left (what the hell? is that the TITLE BAR FROM A CHILD WINDOW leaving the client area of the MDI parent, I mean, grandma and grandpa are going to fall for this, and maybe the average person, but most people with a basic knowledge of computers will be able to take a second look and go “hey, wait a minute” which may be why they only show it for less then 2 seconds. Not counting that weirdly placed gradient title-bar mutant thing, we’ve got what appears to be a bunch of blank space… with splotches. It’s like somebody couldn’t be bothered to photoshop that part of the picture so they just tried to cover it up with a horseblanket that was cleaned with bleach and the parts where the bleach actually touched the fabric were splotchy and all that. The first two distinguishable buttons here are the… blue square and the purplish blue square. I get the feeling those might be the foreground and background color dropdowns that word has, with weird colours because they just cranked up the blue colour on everything and then cranked the saturation up to eleven. Protip: making a scene or interface cool does not mean using “cool” colours. The people that made that decision would try to make schools cooler by installing “cool blue” lights everywhere, completely misunderstanding the fact that it’s not really a literal concept. After that there is clearly the zoom dropdown, a weird deformed midget crapping on a shuffleboard court (although I think that may actually be my imagination making clever icons from the splotches there) then you have Bold, Italic, and Underline. Because I guess those appear in graphic editors (they do, but generally only when text is on the screen) then you have the font drop down, and the paragraph settings, which is pretty WTFy.

So, their magical super enhancement program is Microsoft Freaking word. Either that, or it has a suspicious lack of any image-related features. focussing instead on word processing type tasks. I have yet to see an image editor of any sort that has a “table” command, let alone a menubar that mirrors that of word. I mean, what the hell, they couldn’t even be bothered to actually make the program they were running or had photoshopped on the screen or into a video or whatever the hell they are doing there an actual image editor? I find that especially odd since it was MADE with an image editor exactly like the one they were trying to create, who the hell figured “eh, just throw in a menu” and figured word was a good choice?

Did I mention they MAGNIFY in on the girls FREAKING EYE. try doing that with your digital camera. And don’t try saying “well, clearly that’s an expensive security camera” because A:) it’s Black and white, so clearly it’s some sort of CCTV thing, and B: the max resolution of a standard NTSC signal is worse than the lick and a promise resolution that the Evil madman gives the superhero at the end of every movie before they are either thrown in a woodchipper or otherwise fiercely ignored or gored. I mean, with CCTV her eye is probably like 3 pixels. And the original image is clearly somewhat pixellated, so clearly it’s a bit shaky even to see details at normal resolution.

and did I mention that they do this with Microsoft word? I mean, keep that in mind. So first, she simply “magnifies it 100 times” like you know, taking a standard 320×200 resolution NTSC signal, fabricating millions of pixels worth of otherwise non-existant information out of thin air and creating a crystal clear digitally zoomed in image is just the type of thing they always do. And then they need to “reverse” the “image” they found inside the ladies 3-pixel wide eye. How many secret photographs are hiding on shiny materials on my videos? I sure hope the shiny gloss finish on my Toshiba L300 screen in my Satellite 440CDX review didn’t reveal my secret collection of midget centaur pornography. That would be embarassing. In any case, this is something CSI does TIME and FREAKING TIME again, and it got to a point where they didn’t even pretend they were doing any of it. A person standing looking at a screen could say “enhance her nipples” and it would use it’s x-ray vision to see through her clothes to reveal she had the stolen nipple ring that was found on the body of that drug dealer that they originally arrested in the first act. So anyway, they manage to get this “image” from the girls eye, somehow the lady (no idea what her name is, Let’s call her Kevin) knows exactly what the guy (hell if I know his name- Let’s call him Meg) means when he says “Reverse” Because there is certainly no ambiguity there, I mean, it’s not like it could mean Flipping horizontal, or vertical, or inverting the colours. So she chooses the command from a popup menu.

and it is the same as the one you get when you right-click a picture object in Microsoft Word! Is this your flashy method of tracking criminals? use basic image manipulation in a Word processor? Are we supposed to believe this? Is there a limit to the number of consecutive rhetorical questions a person can ask?

And then after they magically get that reflection (and somehow it doesn’t just flip but also get’s like super clear) Kevin (again, that’s the name I gave the hispanic woman here) says something.

“It’s not very high resolution”

Gee, you think so there Kevin? who would have guessed that blowing up a image more times then a blow-up doll at a bachelor party might actually make the pixels BIGGER. So of course that entire little piece of speech there is entirely redundant because she just draws a box around the thing she wants to enhance and POOF! the program automatically knows exactly what she wants to do and even has fancy transitional animations to zoom it in, to be honest the zoomed in picture looks like a picture of an Amoeba farting to me, but apparently this is a breakthrough to them (I don’t know the context in the episode, maybe they were looking for the zookeeper and he kept a circus filled with trained Amoeba’s, and then they go there and discover that the Amoeba for the finale, who just coincidentally happens to specialize in farting mysteriously vanished. That leads Kevin and Meg on a fantastical adventure with so many dovetails you’re convinced the producers had to sacrifice about 50 dozen birds just to make the bloody thing.)

Now, I certainly have absolutely no problem with mystery shows. And books. Sherlock Holmes is a pretty good even if he is a violin playing Heroin User. (Or was it cocaine? I can’t remember.) In fact, that makes it all the more awesome anyway. Sure there were a few plot holes but aside from that Sir Doyle clearly did at least a little research. In the case of CSI, a show that pretty much is supposed to show the role of computers in forensics investigations, decides instead go assume that all it’s viewers will buy any sort of colourful interface as if that is what they actually use is ridiculous. Show some respect, and stop throwing computer terms around as if you actually know what they mean, it’s just embarassing.

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One thought on “CSI: Why it breaks the sound barrier for shark jumping

Craig Engbrecht

Freaking Epic post. Just epic.

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