Blade Runner Esper Photo Analysis scene?

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by aeonpulse, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. aeonpulse

    aeonpulse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    1,606
    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!
     
    Irken Tech and mrosso like this.
  2. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

    Trophy Points:
    6,750
    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

    DaddyfromNaboo Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    4,116
    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" :lol
     
  4. rodneyfaile

    rodneyfaile Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,980
    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. NAZGÛL

    NAZGÛL Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,296
    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

    Kerr Avon Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,841
    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

    aeonpulse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    1,606
    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. :)

    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.

    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.

    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

    Mr Webber Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,465
    Theres a very talanted fellow at propsummit who has made a start on the replica of the esper if your interested.
     
  9. aeonpulse

    aeonpulse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    1,606
    I immediately did a Google search of "propsummit" and was thrilled with what I discovered. Mr. Webber, I owe you again.
     
  10. autoprops713

    autoprops713 Well-Known Member

    Trophy Points:
    941

    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. :lol
     
    Irken Tech likes this.
  11. rodneyfaile

    rodneyfaile Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,980
    Sounds like we need Blade Runner 3D in theaters for the 30th anniversary!
     
  12. aeonpulse

    aeonpulse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    1,606
    [​IMG]

    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

    Mr Webber Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,465
    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.
     
  14. GKvfx

    GKvfx Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,535
    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 -
    [​IMG]

    Rutger was there, as was Joanna Cassidy -
    [​IMG]
    They had a couple of different costumes for her. And she was made up with the tattoo -
    [​IMG]
    The Polaroid hard copy that the machine spits out was made from one of the stills taken during this shoot.

    [​IMG]


    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.........
    [​IMG]

    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 -
    [​IMG]

    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.
    [​IMG]

    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
     
    Treadwell likes this.
  15. GKvfx

    GKvfx Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,535
     
  16. autoprops713

    autoprops713 Well-Known Member

    Trophy Points:
    941
    Thanks for sharing all of that Gene....awesome:thumbsup
     
  17. Jedi2016

    Jedi2016 Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,205
    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).
     
  18. SSgt Burton

    SSgt Burton Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,830
    Your post is not! :)

    Thanks for that insight! :thumbsup :thumbsup


    Kevin
     
  19. Kerr Avon

    Kerr Avon Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,841
  20. CessnaDriver

    CessnaDriver Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    4,375
    Quantum imaging. The pictures contain not only a traditional visable snapshot information, but a quantum snapshot of the immediate area.
     
  21. Nexus6

    Nexus6 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    2,111
    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. :wacko
     
  22. SSgt Burton

    SSgt Burton Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,830
    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
     
    Nexus6 likes this.
  23. aeonpulse

    aeonpulse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    1,606
    Gene, great post, thanks for all that info!




    That actually makes a lot of sense, I never considered that! :)
     
  24. SSgt Burton

    SSgt Burton Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,830
    Hey thanks... I was kind of half joking though. ;)


    Kevin
     
  25. MrSinistar

    MrSinistar Well-Known Member

    Trophy Points:
    867
    Thanks a lot for posting all those awesome pictures, Gene!! :D

    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.
     
  26. terryr

    terryr Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    2,147
    The Esper is nothing compared to Stallone in Get Carter. He's watching a video and some guy has his back to the camera. So he freezes the tape and puts a mirror against the TV screen. And can now see the guys face! YEAH RIGHT!!!
     
  27. mrosso

    mrosso New Member

    Trophy Points:
    3
    Does anyone know if that mirror in Adam Savage's man cave (visible on Tested) is the original Blade Runner prop? Every time I see that circular mirror, I'm convinced that is the prop used in Leon's apartment for the Esper scene.
     
  28. mugatu

    mugatu Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    1,782
    I think it is similar tech (I mean it would be considered similar to the tech) that those focus later cameras that they recently came out with use. They store all visible field data that allows you to come back later and change the focal point of most objects in the image. So say the photo has an apple 5 feet from the camera, a banana 10 feet away and an orange 20 feet from the camera. You don't focus the camera, but just take the photo. Later on you can decide to make either the apple, the banana, or the orange in focus...or all three.

    I like to think that the Esper works like this in a way recording all light within the the frame of the photo, and then the Esper is able to rebuild unphotographed by direct sight line objects within (or just outside of) the sight line by deducing the reflected/refracted light of said off screen objects recorded within the field of sight of the photograph.

    Thus, I guess in the BR reality, all or most photos are this new kind of hi-data photo, and the Esper itself is the supercomputing rebuilder/manipulator of lost unseen not quite photo data.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2015
  29. Krull

    Krull Sr Member

    Trophy Points:
    1,526
    I can't recall exactly but there's some high science (think string theory,alternate dimensions,time travel) that says glass actually records anything it may reflect,so if they had that worked out in BR's universe I suppose Deckard could zoom in on the mirror and manipulate it to see anything in the room? from any time?
     
  30. GooseM69

    GooseM69 New Member

    Trophy Points:
    2
  31. Solo4114

    Solo4114 Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    4,470
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
  32. Toheroa

    Toheroa New Member

    Trophy Points:
    3
    I've just watched the sequence again, and perhaps this will help.

    One of the things the Esper/Dekkard focuses on is two drinking glasses. According to gumshoe narrative tradition, two drinking glasses left together indicates that more than one person has been in the room ( and drinking with the occupant). From this point, Dekkard is looking for another person in the room, possibly in the bedroom area (because, they're drinking together, so....?) If the Esper has psi capabilities (as has been suggested by others in this thread), the machine would be looking for that area and that person too.(If we run with the Dekkard=replicant theory this interaction becomes even more possible, but anyway.)

    My other theory is - if there is a machine that finds things hidden in photographs, might there not also be a camera that hides things in photographs?

    Dekkard selects a picture that seems to be of a nondescript room - why would anyone keep that photograph? Why would they regard it as important? (Roy: 'Did you get your precious photos?') Leon has had an intimate encounter with Zhora that he wants to remember (and keep secret), so he photographs her while she is sleeping and hides her - using the stealth technology in the device he used to take the photo - and makes the picture look banal. And here we are now, close to November 2019, and we can all take a photograph and manipulate it with our hand-held communication device, and then transmit it....

    I saw this film at the time of the original release (Yes, with the voice over and the "happy"ending) and the technology portrayed at the time (1982) was beyond belief, but it still served the story. The whole "photographs" business is not so important to the plot, but integral to the story, showing Leon and Thora as 'human', with human desires for memory, privacy, secrets, their own lives. That's the great question behind Blade Runner - how human are machines? What happens when humans do inhuman things - do they become like machines? Anyway, everyone was talking about the technology on this thread, so I though I'd show that human intuition is useful too, and if you come home and see two used drinking glasses on the bench, think on.
     
    robn1 likes this.
  33. aeonpulse

    aeonpulse Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

    Trophy Points:
    1,606
    thanks for that contribution, some of that i hadn't noticed or thought of. glad to see this thread still somewhat kicking. :)
     
  34. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

    Trophy Points:
    3,175
    Well in Blade Runner 2049...
    The photos that K has of the tree had some animation to them and were clearly taken from his drone's spatial mapping of the area. Maybe photos contain more spatial information in them than is visible. Maybe enough information is imbedded in the hard copy so that an analyzer might literally peek around corners in a photo.
     

Share This Page