Forensic animation services available in Charleston

By Kyla Asbury | Apr 1, 2011

Media Center's Senior Computer Animator Joe Justice. (Photo by Kyla Asbury)

CHARLESTON – There are certain events that are better seen than explained and the Media Center's Senior Computer Animator Joe Justice uses forensic animation to help attorneys demonstrate these types of events.

Justice has worked in the legal community in Charleston for eight years, but has been in the computer animation field for more than a decade.

Forensic animation is the use of 3D computer animation to help illustrate an expert's opinion or a witness' testimony.

"The key concept to understand is that forensic animation is all demonstrative, not evidentiary," Justice said. "We don't create simulations to be treated as stand-alone evidence; we recreate an event based on a report from an expert."

Justice said the animation is based on evidence; not actual evidence itself.

Justice said recreating events in animation is not simple, cut and dry method.

"If I am recreating an auto accident, it isn't just an auto accident, it's this specific auto accident," Justice said. "You have to pay attention to all of the elements because everything matters."

When creating an animation, Justice said the first step is modeling everything and making it technically accurate and to scale.

"The key is to make it technically accurate—the size, shape, movement, anything that pertains to the demonstrative has to be accurate," he said. "The modeling is a lot like working with clay, except it's on a computer."

During this step in the process, Justice said he makes the models have the correct colors and textures as the objects do in real life.

After the modeling is complete, Justice said they put all of the models together and layout everything.

"You have to pay attention to detail and put those details into the things that are actually important," Justice said. "If I was making an animation of a car wreck and there were trees on the side of the road, but the trees didn't have anything to do with the accident, I might put a few trees, but they wouldn't be as detailed. If there was a specific tree that was part of the accident, that tree would be exactly where it is supposed to be and would be as technically accurate as it can be."

The elements are then animated, which is a long process, Justice said.

After the animations are finished, they are sent to the expert to be revised.

"The expert looks over the animation, decides if there is anything that needs to be revised or added, then he or she will contact us to discuss the animations," Justice said.

Justice said the animations are very often used during mediations and settlement packages.

"The animations aren't just geared toward juries," Justice said. "They're also helpful for claims adjusters, judges, other attorneys and mediators."

Justice said not many people know that there is a place that does forensic animation in Charleston.

"We want to make it known that these services are available," Justice said. "People don't realize we're right here in Charleston. Forensic animation is affordable, accessible and effective."

Forensic animation is used to convey events that might otherwise be hard to visualize.

For more information, contact Justice at 304-720-5497, or visit

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