February 2, 2005

CSI: New York Films Show On C.U. Vet School Campus

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Ten p.m. — A horse was found in the middle of a transverse in Central Park; it had flipped over a taxi cab and had a bullet lodged in its neck. The gun: a high-powered rifle; witnesses: none; the scene of the crime: Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine.

Elvira, the wounded mare, pulled through, but her injury was instrumental in helping detectives Flack and Taylor identify a shooter on CBS’s CSI:NY. Portions of the episode, entitled “Officer Blue,” were filmed at the large animal hospital at Cornell in November, and the episode aired in December.

“We provided footage of a horse in the CT scanner, which, according to the plot, was how [the detectives] ID’d the location and angle of the bullet,” said Amy Gush, associate director of marketing and communications at the veterinary college.

In the television show, the detectives used digital technology to generate a 360-degree image of Central Park. Then, using the created map, as well as the location of the victim, the damaged cab and the bullet between Elvira’s fourth and fifth vertebrae, the detectives determined the point of origin of the shot.

The shooting of the scene required that Dr. Andrea Looney, chief of anesthesiology at the large animal hospital, sedate the 1,200-pound Tennessee Walker. After Elvira was put out, a team of nurses and radiologists worked to tie up Elvira’s legs and send her through for a radiological work-up.

Cornell was chosen because the veterinary school had the advanced technology necessary for the plotline.

The distributor of the veterinary school’s MRI machine, Universal Medical Systems, was contacted by CSI and asked to provide a CT scanner for the set in California.

David Zavagno, president of Universal Medical Systems, explained to CSI’s producers that operating a veterinary CT scanner required an immense amount of “knowledge and understanding,” that could only be found at “a first class facility, namely Cornell.”

To show them what a CT scanner could do, Zavagno sent “pictures of what was being done at Cornell to CSI:NY and they were very impressed. They got a local crew and shot the scene up there.”

Elvira was chosen to be on television because she was already “slated to have an arthroscopic procedure, so we just filmed a segment on her,” Looney explained.

“They filmed lots of footage [and] many segments while they were here. Four or five of the technicians were even on CSI, though I myself was cut out. … [CSI:NY’s request] was a surprise, but a very good experience,” Looney said.

Archived article by Erica Fink
Sun Senior Writer