Some people use the terms “animation” and “simulation” interchangeably, but they are two very different in the eyes of the law. Legal animations (also called demonstrations) are more common at trial than simulations. That is because animations have an easier path to admissibility and aren’t as costly to create because they are less complex. But this only tells part of the story.
Legal Animations Display the Expert Opinion
Put simply, a legal animation is used to illustrate an expert’s or witness’ description of what occurred. In other words, it shows real evidence but is not evidence itself. It is considered on the same level as allowing the witness to draw the scene themselves. The benefit of a legal animation versus a witness drawing is that you are not dependent on the witness’ artistic ability. A computer animation is clear and concise and much more likely to communicate information effectively to the jury.
Legal animations are also extremely beneficial for adding clarity to expert testimony. Experts are often describing complex theories or processes with technical language outside the common parlance. Verbal testimony is often poorly retained by jurors. With a visual representation of the information, both understanding and retention increase dramatically.
Simulations Are the Expert Opinion
Simulations often contain complex data or show real-world interactions between objects. They are used by experts to show likely outcomes or causes and effects rather than exactly recreating an event. Because they extrapolate from objective data, simulations must meet a higher standard of admissibility. This sometimes requires testimony from both the expert who provided the content as well as the animator. The animator must testify about the data they used to create the simulation and the processes they used to ensure the data was implemented accurately. Both the expert and the animator must work together to ensure the simulation can stand up to the rigors of examination and counter-testimony.
Choosing Between Legal Animations and Simulations
When choosing whether a legal animation or simulation is right for your case, consider these key questions:
- Will it be used for demonstrative purposes only?
- Will it enhance the jury’s comprehension and retention of the evidence?
- Does it simply bring clarity to expert testimony rather than forming the basis of the expert’s opinion?
If the answer to all these questions is yes, then you are looking for a legal animation. If you require something more complex, a simulation is in order. Whichever you choose, Precise’s expert courtroom animation team is up to the task. For more information, call us at 866-277-3247.