Forensic Animation- Forensic Computer Animation
Forensic animation has grown in popularity, especially as a visual tool to help forensic investigators to visually depict an alleged crime , accident or a crime scene reconstruction. Because the facts of a case can be extremely complex and specifically related to fields of expertise such as weapons experts, accident reconstructionists, engineers, etc, the use of forensic animation helps investigators develop likely explanations of events.
To begin a forensic animation, facts must be compiled from as many sources as possible both investigative and scientific. Eyewitness accounts, photographs of the scene, statements from emergency responders and police detectives must be combined with reports from experts in relevant fields, such as weapons experts, engineers, scientists, forensic experts, etc. By combining all of the information from these sources it is possible to do a crime scene recreation or accident scene reconstruction.
Also used for something known as demonstrative evidence, 3D computer animation cannot be used to "prove" a case but, can be used to visually support the verbal testimony of an expert witness. Since the information they relay in court is often complicated and pertaining to a specific industry, legal animation is a tool used to help jurors understand and retain information presented by these witnesses.
Scientists from a wide variety of disciplines may be involved in the creation of a 3D crime scene reconstruction depending on the case. Accident reconstructionists, forensic medical experts, weapons experts, engineers etc. are often used to explain key arguments. Forensic animators must take all the fact filled reports and information from these experts and use that as reference to recreate the crime, accident or crime scene.
Thanks to the wide spread use of 3D animated computer graphics in television, film, video gaming, etc. jurors today will likely have expectations of a higher degree of realism. Crudely created animations will not be appealing or credible to an audience of jurors today. Poorly rendered animations by inexperienced animators have given this visual tool a bad reputation in some instances. Animators experienced in forensics will spend over half of their project hours researching and double checking the accuracy of the facts they are animating. The best forensic animators also understand a broad range of technical fields and can quickly assimilate information about new subjects and represent stated events accurately.
Because of our movie going experience with special effects, there is a pre-conceived notion that 3D animations are largely products of the animator's imagination. However, trained forensic animators spends as much as 70% of their project hours on tracking down and verifying the data they are using to re-create the scene. At each and every phase, from building the models and objects to the planned movement of those objects, and the environment they are shown in, every detail must relate and correspond directly with the investigative facts, eyewitness reports, photographs, and expert testimony.
When it comes to forensic animation, very little is left to imagination. Even if the animator is provided with few facts, if there are enough essential details they can use science, such as the laws of physics, or geometry to determine the rest.
The cost of forensic animation projects is difficult to generalize since each project includes unique requirements. Generally, the higher the degree of realism that is required, the complexity of the objects that have to be created and the number of revisions required.
Changes always impact the cost so it is important to have the objectives clear from the beginning. Changing the point of view of the camera slightly does not impact the cost as much as adding new elements to a scene or changing the scene or location altogether.