Hollywood graphics FX

Did you ever watch a Hollywood movie/episode where police/detective/bad guy/alien manages to get a blurry low res photo of a vehicle? And then they enhance the picture to get a readable vehicle’s license plate? Like, for example the picture below:IMG_0081_o

The enhancement in the movie is done by a single click and (through a nice video animation) they get the result below (intentionally hidden two letters):



Notice how much readable and sharper is the second plate?

Is this kind of enhancement really possible? No. You just can’t recreate the information that isn’t available in the source. It can go the other way round but not the way as shown by Hollywood movie makers. In the reality they’d produce a interpolated version of original picture, like the zoomed region in first picture. Can you read that? Nope.

So, has been Hollywood lying to us all the time and movies aren’t real? Perhaps not. I think that reading a blurry low res the license plate is still possible but not as easily as shown in the movies. Most probably there is often enough information there to recreate the letters even when human can’t read them. With proper software you can really read those letters I guess – it still depends on the quality of the photo.