Knott Laboratory provides forensic engineering and animation, Civil & Structural, and Fire & Explosion Investigation services to reconstruct accidents.

Forensic Engineering Use of Computer Animation and Graphics

Richard M. Ziernicki, PhD, PE (NAFE 308F) | David A. Danaher, P.E. (NAFE 703M)

During an accident reconstruction investigation, many complicated issues arise that must be presented to a judge or jury. Although the Reconstructionist may understand the issues and can explain them orally, the audience may not completely understand.

The use of computer animations and graphics can take those complicated issues and present then in a clear and understandable way. The graphics and animations that are developed from the engineering analysis are a visual representation of the Forensic Engineer’s opinion.

Psychological studies show that people are only 15% likely to remember orally-communicated information, but 95% likely to remember orally-communicated information in conjunction with visually-communicated information. Visual tools, such as photo matching, evidence matching, photogrammetry, video matching, 3D modeling, simulation, and animation, can be implemented during the accident investigation process to identify evidence and demonstrate a thorough analysis for later use in court.

For example, roof crush analysis graphics, as seen in Figure 1, not only visually illustrates the deformation of the roof’s structure, but the graphics also have a solid foundation based on accurate measurements of the physical evidence.

Published By

Journal of the National Academy of Forensic Engineers, December, 2006