Crash Animation Now Available To All Investigators

Traditionally, 3D animations, or movies, of the events surrounding a crash were recognized as a powerful tool to help present a case in court. However, they were so expensive to produce that they were only feasible for high-profile cases where big budgets were involved. Recently, the development of easy-to-use, accurate, software for creating animations has changed all that. It is now possible for every crash investigator to produce animations of a crash, based on the evidence they found at the scene.

Just ask Bobby Jones, Assistant Chief of the Knox County-Knoxville, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, and a trained reconstructionist. Jones feels that animations are an important part of his courtroom presentations. Says Jones, “We’ll always need to have a static diagram to get a start (for presenting crash scene details). However, a jury these days can comprehend animation, and the retention is significantly higher than words and diagrams.” Also, Jones adds, “Anytime we can illustrate in motion, we capture the attention of the jury because juries are typically inclined to want to see technology.”

Jones uses The CAD Zone, Inc.’s Crash Zone diagramming software, one of the most popular and widely used forensic drawing software packages on the market. With The Crash Zone he can create his 2D diagrams, incorporating all the exact measurements he takes at the scene. The program contains easy-to-use tools for creating the 3D model and animations of the crash from any viewpoint.

Animating is Easy and Accurate

The animation tools in The Crash Zone make it easy to show the 3D motion of any vehicles, or other objects in your diagram. Just draw the path of the symbols that you want to animate (vehicles, people, bullets, or other objects) based on the measurement you took at the scene. Place Key Event Points to show exactly where objects changes velocity and direction, all based on the exact points you measured at the scene. Then, one click lets you watch the movie.

As the animation unfolds, the vehicles (or other objects) should pass exactly through the reference symbols that you initially placed at measured locations. This lets you verify the animation’s accuracy. One more benefit of Crash Zone’s animation is that, as the animation progresses, all of the data supporting it is displayed at the bottom of the screen, which includes time, speed, distance and velocity. Also displayed is whether or not the vehicle is rolling or yawing and at what angles.

Crash Zone Does All the Work

Nebraska State Patrol Trooper Chris Mannel uses Crash Zone V.8 because he finds the software’s improved animation tools are powerful for showing juries a complete visualization of a crash scene’s events. The software is particularly helpful for demonstrating “what-if” scenarios for different speeds and parameters involving the same cars in the same crash.

Trooper Mannel routinely uses Crash Zone V.8 to create different camera angles for his animations. “Whatever symbols, such as vehicles, you use, those are what actually move during your animation,” Trooper Mannel said. “The Crash Zone’s doing all that work for you!”

The Crash Zone features thousands of pre-drawn 3D symbols that can be placed at any angle, size, and even color. The Symbol Manager Toolbox organizes the symbols for you, so it’s easy to find the one you want and place it in your diagram. To make your animations even more realistic, you can also select vehicles from the standard Vehicle Database so you are matching the size of an exact vehicle, year, make, and model.

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