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  1. aeonpulse's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 10:32 AM - Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #1

    First of all, Blade Runner is without a doubt my all-time favorite movie, I've seen it countless times, and still enjoy every second of it. But there's one scene that I still wonder about every time I see it, the Esper Photo Analysis scene. Deckard finds a stack of photos while searching Leon's apartment, as he's browsing through the photos, one of them catches his eye. What exactly it was about this photo that made Deckard so interested in it, I have no idea. Anyways, later on, Deckard is in his apartment, and pops the photo into the Esper machine. He starts calling out grid commands, zooming in on different things within the photo, and eventually zooms in on a mirror. That's when it gets odd.

    The angle at which he's looking towards the mirror starts changing. He sees things that weren't previously visible, and not just small details, entire people, rooms even. He manages to somehow locate Zora within the photo. It wasn't like Deckard simply zoomed in on her reflection within the mirror, he was definitely rotating his view.

    My question is, is this technology ever explained? Or is it just shrugged off as "technobabble"? I've played through the 1997 BR adventure game, which at points requires you to search photos for clues using the Esper machine, but it doesn't offer any explanation on how it works. I never read the Phillip K. Dick novel, so I don't know if it contains any kind of explanation. It's just interesting is all. It's like their photos, when taken, store everything that was going on around the central subject. Maybe I'm reading the scene wrong, or maybe I'm over-thinking it. After all, it's just a movie.

    Any theories/insight would be appreciated!
  2. Formerly cobalt crimson Wes R's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 11:33 AM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #2

    I don't think they ever really explain it anywhere and I don't remember it being in the novel either, i think it was invented for the movie.
  3. DaddyfromNaboo's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 11:58 AM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #3

    The technology is not explained, but it actually does not need to be explained. The hover cars aren“t explained as well. If you enter a SciFi or Fantasy world you“ve already accepted to see things that do not fit into your view of the real world. Magic might have no place in that movie, but a movie about artificial humanoids sure does not need to explain every bit of technology.

    But there are authors and directors who do have the need to explain everything. Midichlorians, anyone?

    I think you“ve seen the movie way too often and lost that "sense of wonder"
  4. rodneyfaile is offline rodneyfaile
    Feb 16, 2012, 12:26 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #4

    I thought he picked that photo because of the mirror on the wall. He could zoom in and see other parts of the room as well.

    The only part I thought was odd is the frame he is looking at when he asks for a hard copy and what prints out were not the same.
  5. NAZGŪL's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 12:30 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #5

    I always thought the esper let you look around inside the image. The picture is 3 dimensional. I think that was the case with the (great) video game esper also, but it was many years since playing it.
  6. Kerr Avon's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 12:34 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #6

    Watch the "Red Dwarf" episodes "Back to Earth" which wonderfully parodies the ridiculous nature of the Esper machine to be able to view areas that were not included in the photograph. The very name 'Esper' is a term used for psychics and other supernaturally gifted people, so it's really a riff on the machine that it can do something completely outside the bounds of reality.
  7. aeonpulse's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 1:13 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #7

    ManfromNaboo said: View Post
    The technology is not explained, but it actually does not need to be explained. The hover cars aren“t explained as well. If you enter a SciFi or Fantasy world you“ve already accepted to see things that do not fit into your view of the real world. Magic might have no place in that movie, but a movie about artificial humanoids sure does not need to explain every bit of technology.
    Hahah, you have a very good point there. I suppose I was more interested in hearing people's thoughts/opinions/theories on the Esper machine.

    rodneyfaile said: View Post
    I thought he picked that photo because of the mirror on the wall. He could zoom in and see other parts of the room as well.

    The only part I thought was odd is the frame he is looking at when he asks for a hard copy and what prints out were not the same.
    You could be right, if I remember correctly, it was the only picture that was centered directly on the mirror. And yeah, I also noticed that the hard copy did not match what was on screen. I'm assuming it was an honest mistake by SRS.

    NAZGŪL said: View Post
    I always thought the esper let you look around inside the image. The picture is 3 dimensional. I think that was the case with the (great) video game esper also, but it was many years since playing it.
    Yes, the video game was AWESOME. I reinstalled it a few months ago and got pretty far into it, unfortunately I got stuck due to an incompatibility with Windows7 and was unable to progress any further. It was a scene where you have to escape an explosion. There's some kind of issue with my processor being too fast (the game did come out 14 years ago after all), so the in-game timer was all jacked up, and I could never escape in time.

    Kerr Avon said: View Post
    Watch the "Red Dwarf" episodes "Back to Earth" which wonderfully parodies the ridiculous nature of the Esper machine to be able to view areas that were not included in the photograph. The very name 'Esper' is a term used for psychics and other supernaturally gifted people, so it's really a riff on the machine that it can do something completely outside the bounds of reality.
    Hah, sounds great. I used to watch Red Dwarf with my uncle when I was younger, I don't recall ever seeing that episode. I'll have to look it up.
  8. Mr Webber is offline Mr Webber
    Feb 16, 2012, 2:13 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #8

    Theres a very talanted fellow at propsummit who has made a start on the replica of the esper if your interested.
  9. aeonpulse's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 2:17 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #9

    Mr Webber said: View Post
    Theres a very talanted fellow at propsummit who has made a start on the replica of the esper if your interested.
    I immediately did a Google search of "propsummit" and was thrilled with what I discovered. Mr. Webber, I owe you again.
  10. autoprops713's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 2:53 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #10

    NAZGŪL said: View Post
    I always thought the esper let you look around inside the image. The picture is 3 dimensional. I think that was the case with the (great) video game esper also, but it was many years since playing it.

    Agreed. I also thought it was a 3D "image" embedded into what we saw on screen as a flat photo. The esper machine allowed the operator to "flow" into the image and even change perspective within the room. Then I suppose you could print out a new perspective or angle but still contain the 3D nature of the file? We basically have 3D files now that sort of do the same thing in a computer. I like that in BR it looked like a regular polaroid photo. Fit the whole retro theme.

    Oh yeah...ps....Syd Mead kinda reiterated this to me a few years back.
  11. rodneyfaile is offline rodneyfaile
    Feb 16, 2012, 3:24 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #11

    Sounds like we need Blade Runner 3D in theaters for the 30th anniversary!
  12. aeonpulse's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 3:32 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #12

    rodneyfaile said: View Post
    Sounds like we need Blade Runner 3D in theaters for the 30th anniversary!


    Keep the 3D stuff away from Blade Runner! Although, there's no way I'd be able to pass up an opportunity to see it in theaters.
  13. Mr Webber is offline Mr Webber
    Feb 16, 2012, 4:41 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #13

    Pleasure ap, my username there is offworld66.

    I am still to see any movie in 3D, not on purpose just hasnt worked out.
    Im going to pop the cherry with Prometheus, kinda fitting really.
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    Feb 16, 2012, 5:33 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #14

    The (movie) reality is far more mundane.

    There were two Esper sequences shot for the film. The first one was shot on a small corner set of Stage 4 and was shot between setups while they were filming Rachel's interrogation. Even though it was for a throwaway scene and would only be seen in photographs, they put a lot of effort into it -


    Rutger was there, as was Joanna Cassidy -

    They had a couple of different costumes for her. And she was made up with the tattoo -

    The Polaroid hard copy that the machine spits out was made from one of the stills taken during this shoot.




    They (EEG) shot an assortment of stills (35mm still camera, 8x10, 4x5 Polaroid - whatever) - moving the camera around the room, anticipating the "moves" Deckard would call out to the Esper. This "footage" was then laid out and shot on an animation stand - essentially transferring it to 35mm film.



    And yes, as was previously posted, I believe the intent was that by "scanning" or zooming in on that circular mirror, Deckard could see what was in the other room.........


    The large format nature of the photography allowed them to zoom in on the image, much like Deckard was doing. The image below is cropped from the image of the mirror above. Rutger is visible in the reflection -


    This footage was then transferred to tape and delivered back to the set for playback when they shot Harrison Ford in his apartment.

    So what happened? Simple - Ridley didn't like the results. While Ridley was editing the film in London, he decided to redo the Esper film. A new "replicant hangout" apartment set was built and stand-ins were cast for Roy and Zhora. They followed the same basic pattern, Shooting photos, transferring photos to film, adding the grid lines and the flash frames on an animation stand before transferring it to tape.

    For the reshoot, the Esper prop was shipped to London, along with the VK Machine (it's sitting on the bottom of frame). The TV monitor in the Esper was fed the new Esper film via tape and the whole thing was re-filmed. Notice that you never see any shots of Harrison Ford AND the monitor footage (ie: an over the shoulder shot)? Any shot you see of Harrison is a single on him, or over the Esper to Harrison. Any shots of the Esper screen is just the Esper in frame. There is only one shot of Deckard taking the photo out of the Esper - and it's a body double for Harrison.


    That's how the whole sequence is pulled off - editing.

    As it is, there are still an abundance of continuity issues in the sequence. The Esper prop changes its details, the apartment isn't Leon's (or at least we don't see the room the photos were taken in), and of course, the actresses don't match (unless you watch the Final Cut version, where they comp'd Joanna Cassidy's head over the stand-in's body).

    You can see the "original" version on one of the discs in the Final Cut box set.....

    Gene
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    Feb 16, 2012, 5:38 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #15

    [QUOTE=autoprops713;2138955]......I like that in BR it looked like a regular polaroid photo......./QUOTE]

    It was a real Polaroid photo. The Polaroid film was exposed with a still taken on the set. It wasn't something stuck on a piece of paper or a photo with a Polaroid frame glued on to it.

    Gene
  16. autoprops713's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 6:49 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #16

    Thanks for sharing all of that Gene....awesome
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    Feb 16, 2012, 10:05 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #17

    As for what makes it "work", I always assumed that the photo was 3D, a type of 3D that we don't currently have that captures actual data about what's in the scene, rather than just what two cameras see (sort of like the inevitable holographic recorders that we'll eventually see).
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    Feb 16, 2012, 10:53 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #18

    GKvfx said: View Post
    The (movie) reality is far more mundane.
    Your post is not!

    Thanks for that insight!


    Kevin
  19. Kerr Avon's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 11:17 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #19

    Here's the Red Dwarf sequence: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KF1Td...eature=related

    It's at the 6:20 second mark.

    It makes about much sense as anything in Blade Runner's sequence.
  20. RPF Premium Member CessnaDriver's Avatar
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    Feb 16, 2012, 11:23 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #20

    Quantum imaging. The pictures contain not only a traditional visable snapshot information, but a quantum snapshot of the immediate area.
  21. RPF Premium Member Nexus6's Avatar
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    Feb 17, 2012, 1:24 AM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #21

    I always thought of it as: the camera was 3-D, & also very high resolution, say 100-gigapixels (that oughta be about right for heavily-Japanese-influenced-L.A.-2019, right?). And the ESPer had "predictive intelligence" (<--just made that up. Copyright 2012, Nexus6), which allowed it to examine the coloration, shading, shadowing, lighting, & reflections coming from each pixel. Then as the user "engaged" the 3-D aspect of the photo, the ESPer would take all the data it had gathered from the visible pixels, & build the portions of the photo that had been obscured, using the results of the gathered data to make an educated guess as to what was supposed to be there. So, in essence, the ESPer is saying, <THIS> is the content that would be causing the surrounding [visible] pixels to exhibit the attributes I've analyzed.

    That would also explain why the woman in the photo didn't look like Zhora.



    BUUTTTTT, it doesn't explain why the hard-copy was a different angle & looked exactly like Zhora.
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    Feb 17, 2012, 7:34 AM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #22

    Nexus6 said: View Post
    BUUTTTTT, it doesn't explain why the hard-copy was a different angle & looked exactly like Zhora.
    Oh that's because the Esper is connected to the Blade Runner Unit database- it interpolated the information and printed out a better view of the Replicant Deckard was looking for.


    Kevin
  23. aeonpulse's Avatar
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    Feb 17, 2012, 9:13 AM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #23

    Gene, great post, thanks for all that info!



    SSgt Burton said: View Post
    Oh that's because the Esper is connected to the Blade Runner Unit database- it interpolated the information and printed out a better view of the Replicant Deckard was looking for.


    Kevin

    That actually makes a lot of sense, I never considered that!
  24. SSgt Burton's Avatar
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    Feb 17, 2012, 7:48 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #24

    Hey thanks... I was kind of half joking though.


    Kevin
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    Feb 17, 2012, 9:34 PM - Re: Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene? #25

    Thanks a lot for posting all those awesome pictures, Gene!!

    I also thought that the image itself had data encoded on it so that it was three-dimensional. I always thought the black border with the red text on the image itself was like a representation of that fact.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't those blue "flash frames" in the sequence kodaliths aka the negative cells they used for the backlit animation for the circuitry glow in Tron? Whenever a frame "flashes" all the blacks in the image seem to glow exactly like the backlit animation from Tron.

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