Nighttime Visibility Animation Outshines Opposing Animation

Michael S. Simpson, Esq., Richards & Simpson, Denver, CO

What differentiates our work from other legal exhibit firms? The foundation of our work is grounded in scientific methodologies using the latest technology available in order to portray the greatest realism possible. As an example of the quality of our exhibits, look no further than this nighttime visibility case. We built the animation on the left. The opposition presented the animation on the right.

Who do you think the jury believed?

Compare our recreation of the event versus the opposition’s animation.

Michael S. Simpson, Esq., Richards & Simpson, Denver, CO
The High Impact animation was, unlike the opposing animation, based on scientific principles and methodology. The result was an animation that was far more realistic in appearance, and far more credible, than what the other side had done. So even though we had not initially intended to get an animation done, I believe that it played a critical role in our successful defense of the farmer.
Michael S. Simpson, Esq., Richards & Simpson, Denver, CO

Based on our analysis, the 3D tractor model in the second animation is not accurate, its reflectors are scaled incorrectly and misplaced, the lighting fall-off is fabricated - it’s extremely easy to see that the second animation is not as credible as ours. The reason you should invest in scientifically founded accuracy is because when you don’t, it costs you credibility and instills doubt in your representation of the event.

We invest in the most validated scientific approach possible. Our forensic animation is based on scientific measurements and nighttime evaluations of the actual equipment, incident location, and exemplar Jeep. The animation accurately recreates the perspective of the driver as he approached impact.

These are the extra steps we took to ensure our animation’s accuracy.

IES Lab Testing:

The reason the headlight beam pattern in our animation looks so much more realistic is because our lights were photometrically tested in a laboratory. The lab measured the luminous intensity and light distribution of the physical headlight assembly for our animated vehicle.

Lighting data is collected in the lab directly from the Jeep's headlight assembly.
Lighting data is collected in the lab directly from the Jeep’s headlight assembly.

We obtained the Jeep’s OEM headlight assembly so that forensic lighting experts could collect an intense amount of data to help us recreate the exact light.

The lighting data is used to create simulation files for our artists.
The lighting data is used to create simulation files for our artists.

After the lighting data is measured, it’s translated into a simulation file that our artists can use to accurately recreate the depth and fall-off of the Jeep’s headlights in a virtual world.

The simulation data is used to virtually recreate exactly what the Jeep's headlights could illuminate.
The simulation data is used to virtually recreate exactly what the Jeep’s headlights could illuminate.

The lighting simulation data is programmed into the animated model, creating a highly accurate virtual representation of the physical headlight counterpart.

On-Site Night Inspections

In order to accurately recreate the light emitting from the tractor, we traveled to its owner’s farm on a moonless night and collected a wide range of photogrammetry and light meter readings at set measured distances.

Every 70 feet, we collected lighting data from the tractor.
Every 70 feet, we collected lighting data from the tractor.

Traveling at 65 mph, the driver’s closing rate in relation to the tractor was 48 mph. We captured light meter readings and reference photography from the rear of the tractor every 70 feet to ensure we had exact visual data at each 1-second mark.

Data collected from the farm helped us recreate the light you see on the right.

During the inspection the camera settings were adjusted until the photographs represented the visibility of the equipment as observed by the Human Factors Expert. The physical camera settings and light meter readings were used as appropriate inputs for the software’s “virtual camera,” to be consistent with human perception of the scene.

This would ensure that every second of our animation was portraying exactly what the driver could see in the 40 seconds before crashing.

3D Scanning

Once we had virtual lights, we needed a virtual tractor to place them on. To ensure accurate placement, we 3D scanned the actual tractor.

At first, the raw scan data looks like this.

When we scan a vehicle, we collect what’s called “point cloud data.” In its raw form, it looks like the image above. We bring that back to the studio and use digital photographs to correctly render the surface colors and textures.

After adding color and refining the edges into a crisp model, we end up with this.

The final product is as close to perfect as legally possible, and we’re always exploring new ways to perfect our process even more.

Geological Surveying

Once we had accurate lighting and an exact model of the tractor, we needed a 3D environment to place them in. We accomplished this through a combination of on-site inspections and geological survey data available to the public.

The topography is based on USGS survey data.

Rendering the USGS data into a model helped us recreate the exact vehicle dynamics and road topology. Satellite photos enabled us to accurately add auxiliary details to the environment.

Verified Animation Software

Our 3D software uses physical light values that interact with materials realistically. Researchers from Harvard and a Canadian governmental research institute have validated the software we use to be physically accurate. You can see more of our scientifically validated collision animation work below.

Watch our collision demo reel and see more of what we deliver.

The animation ultimately helped the Defense prove that the farmer’s tractor was clearly visible, and convinced jurors to find zero liability on behalf of the farmer.

Guy Barbera, President, Jacobson Forensic Engineering
During the trial, both sides presented animations in order to show the driver’s view as he approached the tractor. We were able to explain the science and testing that formed the basis for the High Impact animation so they could understand how it accurately represented the visibility of the tractor from the driver’s perspective. It was clear that the opposition’s animation lacked a scientific foundation and contained errors. The jury ultimately ruled in our client’s favor. In my opinion, this was due, in large part, to the superior quality and technical accuracy of the High Impact animation.
Guy Barbera, President, Jacobson Forensic Engineering
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