March 2012 Bar Bulletin
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March 2012 Bar Bulletin

Including Animation as Demonstrative Evidence in Court

By Drew Gillett and Peder Rudling


The opposition finishes a Venn diagram of its case on plain, white butcher paper while a projector hums to life. Along with a simple dialogue, the jury is taken through a photo-realistic, first-person view of an accident, followed by an aerial view of the movement of each vehicle. With a pause at the precise moment where things went wrong, it becomes obvious as to who is at fault.

3D and 2D animation have moved past Hollywood and are now common-place in courtrooms across the country. Be prepared with knowledge about how this can help your case, as well as what you might go up against.

Confusing vs. Clarifying: Anima­tion can be used to "de-mystify" a confusing case by presenting a clear picture of the events involved. Medical procedures, vehicle accidents, and even properly working machinery are all great examples of where animation can clarify complex processes that are hard to illustrate verbally.

When opposing counsel aims to convolute an accident case, you may need to clarify to jurors how a complex machine works - animation can provide that clarity. Animation provides for the control of time and perspective that supersedes even video recreations.

Memory and Attention Span: Keeping the attention of the jury is also a benefit. The average juror may have heard a story read to them, but by controlling the way jurors visualize those words you not only help them create vividly concrete memories, you help them remember the vital points of your case.

By providing the audience with something to watch while they mull over your points, they are connecting the two mentally. More mental connections increase recollection speed, accuracy and retention time of memories.

Admissibility: One factor to bear in mind when considering the use of animation is the forum you want to use it in. For example, mediations can have much more argumentative and subjective animations than can be presented at trial. Techniques such as sound effects, facial animation and dramatic lighting or camera angles to emphasize an emotion or impression are much more common in mediation.

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