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Image Analysis: Now Part of Hollywood’s Story


Fourteen years ago, prior to the start of the “Global War on Terror”, image analysis was rarely something you would see in a Hollywood production or PrimeTime TV show. Somewhere along the way, there was a turning point and the writers and producers realized the image analysis and intelligence piece helps tell the story. While some of us have known this goes on in the background and helps lead to the big decisions/missions we see in movies, most of the viewers do not.

One of the first big movies I remember seeing this in was "Act of Valor" when a Raven UAV is launched and the Navy Seals are streaming a FMV (full motion video) feed and identifying targets prior to the raid. To the average person, that might seem like some sort of James Bond gadget, but to those in the field, it's known technology and a real capability. The next big Hollywood release that the intelligence piece caught my eye in was “Zero DarkThirty”, when the analysts are looking at the products created of Bin Laden’s compound and planning the raid. 3d models were then created from these products and later on it was learned that entire training compounds were modeled off of this information. Once the mission went live in the movie we saw the FMV/ drone feed again and POTUS watched a live stream as the Helo’s approached:

Fast forward to this year and “State of Affairs” had its first season launched. This show glamourized the intelligence field, and evenbrought in a small glimpse into weather monitoring. Almost every episode involves the intelligence opps room with a wide variety of analytics up from FMV feeds, weather feeds, IR images, and imagery of all sorts:


So why does any of this matter? While most of us have known for a while who work in or with the field, the value of image analytics and its role in stories that shape our world are finally getting the recognition and glory they deserve. The technology in the image analysis arena continues to grow and the possibilities are really becoming endless as to what you can track, detect, analyze, or really just watch. With the next gen technologies being flashed on TV shows and movies, I hope it plants a seed and starts to inspire the next generation who will really push the limits of our field and take the science that has formed what we know to the next level. Image analytics can be exciting and not only save lives, but save environments as a whole, and hopefully the more mainstream it becomes the further the envelope is pushed.