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A Picture Is Still Worth a Thousand Words – Especially If It’s 3D

Attorneys, like jury consultants, are definitely no strangers to complex litigation involving facts beyond the realm of a juror’s everyday experience. Working on such cases for years often means we may lose sight of the fact that the details and technical issues involved are not obvious to the average juror. Research shows the overwhelming benefits of conveying complicated ideas to jurors through graphic representations that illustrate complex and technical facts in an unambiguous manner.

3D Graphics: Animations vs. Still Images

One of the most effective ways to present a complex idea is through 3D animation. From showing the sequence events that led to a tragic car accident to revealing the way the anterior cruciate ligament performs within the human body, 3D animation can clearly and concisely convey information to jurors in a way that would be difficult, if not impossible, to do relying on words alone. The reality is – 3D animation is expensive. While that expense is often justified in larger product liability or patent litigation, 3D animation can be cost prohibitive depending on the case and the client.

Never fear – there is an alternative. 3D still images offer some of the same advantages as animation at a fraction of the price!

A 3D animation is a 3D model set to motion, either by animating the object itself or a camera around the object. In contrast, a 3D still image, while still a 3D model, does not contain any animated parts; therefore, the cost of creating a 3D still image is far less than the cost of developing a full 3D animation.

 Advantages to Using Still Images

    • Visual Flexibility.  An advantage to using a 3D still image is that once a model is built, it can be manipulated in any number of ways. In fact, the possibilities for camera angles, close ups and stills are virtually limitless. A 3D still image also offers a great deal of freedom and flexibility. Depending on the level of detail with which the model is built, a 3D still gives the user the ability to hide parts of an object or scene, make parts transparent or highlight certain aspects of the image (see Figure A). In short, 3D stills give counsel the ability to control what jurors see and when. This can be especially useful when explaining layered or progressive steps of a complex object or process.

Figure A. Advantages of 3D image, transparency, hide parts, add different kind of materials to the 3D Object.

A1   A2

Figure B. Once you have a 3D image objects can be view from any angle.

B1 B2


    • Technical Flexibility.  One of the most notable benefits of a 3D image is the practical flexibility it offers users. In contrast to 3D animations, the turnaround on revisions or changes to 3D still images is generally much shorter. Additionally, 3D images can be easily imported into a variety of software packages, and many programs, including Flash, Prezi and PowerPoint, accommodate 3D images. In fact, using “builds” in PowerPoint gives the user some of the advantages of a full-blown animation without the expense because, even without movement, a user is able to tell a story with the juxtaposition of images (see Figure C).

Figure C. 3D images used in Power Point to convey story without animation.

C1 C2


Advantages to Using Animations

As with most things, you get what you pay for. While more expensive, 3D animation is superior to still images in a number of ways. First, animation draws jurors’ attention more effectively. Furthermore, animation is the only way to go if one needs to fully show how something moves because it can be difficult to convey motion with still images. When the action of something is the main case theme (e.g., how something locks or opens, the way a product is supposed to function, the events leading to an accident), 3D animation is the best option.

As we discussed previously, for continuing litigation or in an especially complicated case, the expense of 3D animation may be justified. But, for an isolated case with a tight budget, a 3D still image is one of the most effective and affordable ways of presenting information to jurors.


Adam B.

By:  Adam Bloomberg, Managing Director -Visual Communications

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