CSI: Crime Scene Investigation premiered on CBS on October 6, 2000. This
is the team of investigators who, after a single glance at a corpse, notice
that one of its shoes is tied differently from the other, which turns
out to be the key to finding the killer; who find as much detail in the
blood splattered on the wall as they do in the smudged fingerprints on
the knife handle; who deduce that the bystander near the scene of the
crime was no bystander at all. Get caught up in the world of the Crime
Scene Investigators of Las Vegas, an eclectic ensemble of forensic heroes
who work day and night, in the penthouse suites of glamorous hotels and
in seedy back alleys far from the lights, solving crimes in ways that
no other cops could.
Gil Grissom, the senior forensics officer, heads the team of investigators
at the Criminalistics Bureau in Las Vegas. On the team are Catherine Willows,
a single parent who has to juggle a job she loves with being a parent;
Capt. Jim Brass, who is tough on everyone,
and Warrick Brown and Nick Stokes, who are in a head-to-head competition
to solve their 100th crime. By relentlessly analyzing every detail at
the scene of the crime, no matter how seemingly irrelevant or grotesque
in nature, these sleuths from the Las Vegas police department's Criminalistics
Bureau have science and experience on their side to solve the case.
What's so interesting about this show?
There's no doubt that the science and solution of crimes is a big draw
for audiences. Interestingly enough, the series draws in a large female
audience according to CTV-TV (according to series creator Anthony Zuiker
"Women are the reason we're on the air."). Fascinating stories, interesting
characters, and cutting-edge cinematography make for an intriguing hour
of entertainment. Many viewers of CSI also watch real-life forensic
shows on cable. Each episode normally contains an A story (the major
one) and a B story. On occasion, one major story comprises the entire
How much does it cost to film an episode?
During the first season, this series reportedly cost $1.5 million per
episode to make. However, this is not the most expensive show on network
television. Before CBS cancelled it, Nash Bridges costs exceeded
$2 million an episode. CSI's producers will recoup their initial investment
as the series was sold into syndication to TNN for a record $1.5 million
per episode. TNN will begin airing CSI once a week starting in late
2002, with a restriction of not airing the series during primetime.
What is a CSI?
A CSI is a Crime Scene Investigator. They can also be called ET (evidence
technician), FI (forensic investigator), CST (crime scene technician),
CO (criminalists officer), SOCO (scenes of crime officer), and more.
The job of the CSI is to identify, document and collect physical evidence
at a crime scene, and to ensure that its integrity remains intact. In
Las Vegas, they are actually called Crime Scene Analysts (CSA).
CSIs need to be well educated in various aspects
of evidence collection and analysis. Many specialize in certain fields
(i.e., Grissom does bugs, Catherine does blood-splatter analysis). CSI
attend autopsies and testify in court.
Salaries range from approximately $20,000-$50,000,
which is dependent upon training, education and experience levels, as
well as geographical location.
Education varies. It is generally best to obtain
the education before being hired as a CSI, as this increases your chances
of being hired. Once hired, the emloyer usually offers training. Degree
requirements are different with each hiring agency.
Do CSIs always carry guns? Some do, and some
How do they do that incredible photography on the show?
CSI is shot on Super 35mm film, but is telecined to HD (high
definition) for post production work. This allows the creators to give
the show a more cinematic appearance. They're able to color correct from
the tape without having to use the negative. Visual enhancements are done
that turn a scene grainy when going to a flashback, or infuse vibrant
colors when panning Vegas' brilliant neon lights. Viewers may also recognize
the fascinating in-wound shots from the movie The Three Kings,
where the effect was first introduced.
How accurate is CSI?
It's pretty accurate, but as with all television, dramatic license
is taken. On an episode of CSI, Grissom can drop off samples with Greg
the lab technician and get a DNA profile back within hours or days of
his request. In reality, CSI labs are underfunded, understaffed, and
have nowhere near the lab equipment this CSI lab possesses. If you read
the news, you'll see that DNA and other tests can take weeks to months
to process due to backlog. A real forensic expert might cringe at what
he sees, for it is rare for the investigators to question/interrogate
witnesses, which is something Grissom does quite frequently. If you're
a stickler for reality, check out the lexicon section under each episode.
Any nitpicks on inaccuracies will be listed there. You can also tune
into any of the forensic shows on A&E or the Discovery Channel.
The set dresser researched forensic
labs in both Las Vegas and Los Angeles, studying the facilities and
taking photos to assemble a credible set. Many of the props were bought
off the internet, where a lot of modern technology is easily for sale.
The body parts seen in jars of 'formaldehyde' (colored water) are actually
Criminalist Elizabeth Devine, a
15-year veteran with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, is
an expert in forensic biology and crime scene reconstruction, and is
CSI's technical advisor. She views all scripts before they're completed,
making suggestions in regards to how true forensic experts would in
situations. On the set, she'll even assist in setting up the crime scene.
Forensic Anthropology is the science of physical anthropology when applied
to the legal process. Often times authorities are faced with badly decomposed
corpses, unidentified remains, or merely skeletons. Using scientific techniques
developed in anthropology, forensic anthropologists may work in conjunction
with forensic odontologists, pathologists, and homicide investigators
to determine the age, sex, stature and more from human remains. Prime
examples of the application of this science is to identify victims of
wartime massacres. A good example of its use in CSI is when Gil
had the facial features of a deceased woman constructed from skeletal
remains in the episode "Who Are You".
Forensic Art A good example of forensic art in CSI is when Grissom
had the facial features of a deceased woman constructed from skeletal
remains in the episode "Who Are You".
Forensic Entomology is the use of insects and other athropods that are
found at decomposing remains to aid criminal and civil investigations.
This field can be dividied into three general areas: medicolegal, urban,
and stored product pests. Medicolegal focuses on criminal investigations
and the carrion feeding insects found on human remains. (For instance,
when Gil employed forensic entomology when he found the insect on the
corpse in the Pilot episode of CSI. The urban aspect focuses on
insects that affect man and his environment, and those insects can feed
on both living and dead humans. More often than not, the urban aspect
is involved in civil proceedings and not criminal investigations. The
stored product aspect involves food contamination, in which the criminalogist
may serve as an expert witness in both criminal and civil proceedings.
medicine is the application of the science of medical and paramedical
specialties (i.e., dental, chemical, psychological, biological, and mechanical
techniques) in determining the cause(s) of an individual's death, injury
or disease. For example, forensics is applied from murder to child abuse.
Forensic Odontology is the application
of the science of dentistry and paradental knowledge to help solve criminal
and and civil matters.
Forensic Palynology uses pollen and spores to help solve crimes. Many
pollens and spores are specific to regions, even states, and can also
help determine where items - such as food, merchandise, vehicles - have
Forensic Photography is the utilization of photographic techniques to
capture the crime scene in photographs. You just can't drag along your
When people are violently killed, their blood usually tends to spatter
the environment (walls, floors, etc.). How that occurs can determine the
angle of impact, the item used, etc. Also called blood spatter.
The most common technique known to the layman is DNA forensic analysis,
in which scientists focus on certain genetic sequence called markers,
which is particular to each person. DNA evidence, if preserved properly,
can be used decades after the crime to incriminate - or clear - suspects.
Forensic science studies many facets of the crime scene: fingerprints,
DNA, serology, firearms, drugs, and much more. Anything from a hair to
a twig to a dead insect can yield important evidence to solve a case.
- List of articles on evidence and forensics. Extensive.
Fingers. We all have
and we all have prints, which many criminals leave behind at the scene
of a crime. With the advent of computer science, it's becoming easier
to match prints to perpetrators.
Most murders (at least on TV) are committed with firearms. Learn more
about how forensics determines the distance, the type of weapon used,
and more. Criminals and, more often, terrorists, are overly fond of explosives.
Knots & Ligatures
Many people are strangled,
and forensics experts can determine what is used by the evidence left
behind. Forensic Knot Specialists/Experts do exist.
You've heard this department mentioned
on CSI, in particular the episode "Gentle, Gentle." They handle basically
anything that's written, whether by hand or machine.
Alternate Light Source
Equipment used to produce visible and invisible light at various wavelengths
to enhance or visualize potential items of evidence (fluids, fingerprints,
clothing fibers, etc.).
The use of chemicals that react with specific types of evidence (e.g.,
blood, semen, lead, fingerprints) in order to aid in the detection and/or
documentation of evidence that may be difficult to see.
A generic term used to describe physical material/evidence discovered
at crime scenes that may be compared with samples from persons, tools,
and physical locations. Comparison samples maybe from either an unknown/questioned
or a known source.
The unwanted transfer of material from another source to a piece of physical
The unwanted transfer of material between two or more sources of physical
Tape, labels, containers, and string tags used to identify the evidence,
the person collecting the evidence, the date the evidence was gathered,
basic criminal offense information, and a brief description of the pertinent
Objects or materials that have retained the characteristics of other objects
that have been physically pressed against them..
A print impression not readily visible, made by contact of the hands or
feet with a surface resulting in the transfer of materials from the skin
to that surface.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Articles such as disposable gloves, masks, and eye protection that are
utilized to provide a barrier to keep biological or chemical hazards from
contacting the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes and to avoid contamination
of the crime scene.
A nonconfirmatory test used to screen for the presence of a substance.
Projectile Trajectory Analysis
The method for determining the path of a high-speed object through space
(e.g., a bullet emanating from a firearm).
Physical evidence that results from the transfer of small quantities of
materials (e.g., hair, textile fibers, paint chips, glass fragments, gunshot
Evidence which by its very nature or the conditions at the scene will
lose its evidentiary value if not preserved and protected (e.g., blood
in the rain).
An initial assessment conducted by carefully walking through the scene
to evaluate the situation, recognize potential evidence, and determine
resources required. Also, a final survey conducted to ensure the scene
has been effectively and completely processed.