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Mark had his entire presentation mapped out. His laptop was loaded with the latest PowerPoint presentation that he had labored late in the evening preparing. His exhibits were neatly stacked and ready to be unveiled. He was positive all of his arguments would be presented in a clear and concise manner. He could not conceive of his argument lasting more than the allotted hour that the judge had imposed. He entered the courtroom with the utmost confidence but left it feeling dizzy and nauseated. It was as though he was communicating in a different language where no one, including the judge, could understand the simplest of concepts. The other side, however, having only spoken for 20 minutes, presented their side in a manner that even Mark had a hard time disputing at times. The lawyers seemed to have worked magic with their exhibits, including a series of computer animations that not only demonstrated the technology at issue, but also managed to tie their argument into the same tutorial, as to look like part of the same science. Not only was Mark impressed, but he knew he would need to prepare his next case with similar exhibits in order to stay competitive with his adversaries. Across the nation, in courtrooms and judges’ chambers, there is a technology revolution that has already begun. As the war of words continues much as it has for centuries, the support for the heart of the arguments has a changing face. Once dominant and considered cutting-edge, PowerPoint slides are becoming old-fashioned and outgunned. The new media that is taking its place is computer animation. While it may seem commonplace now, animation has had a long and bumpy journey on its way to court. With the advent of computer technology, especially in the entertainment field, there has always been a watchful eye cast on animation. At first, judges thought of it as a way to manipulate the truth and were skeptical to allow it to be used. There was a belief that if the truth could be manipulated for entertainment purposes, the same could be true for legal presentations. It was not until the experts themselves began to see the possibility of animation, and began to really work with artists to create scientifically based simulations, that the evolution of the courtroom presentation began. There are two types of animation that are introduced into court: computer simulations and computer animation. A computer simulation can be entered as substantive evidence when it is a reconstruction of an event that has happened. It must be based on scientific knowledge and measurements. This data is provided by the expert in the case and is considered part of his or her findings. Computer animation is different in that it is used as an illustrative tool to indicate how something may have looked or transpired. Imagine a car that is involved in an accident with another car. All of the elements of the accident have been recorded, including road conditions, the speed of both vehicles, their weights and their approximate trajectories. All of these elements can be input into a computer, and a computer simulation of the events can be generated. Each person’s point of view, as well as an overhead view, can be rendered by the computer to give the viewer an accurate portrayal of events as they happened. This is valuable when determining fault in an accident. Now imagine a new cancer drug is being offered by a major pharmaceutical manufacturer. A computer animation is needed to illustrate not only how cancerous cells interact with healthy cells, but what the effect of the drug has on these cells. It is impossible to capture events of this nature actually taking place, but a visual aid can be very beneficial. An animation is created with the help of an expert that accurately depicts the cells and their interactions with each other and the new drug. Another valuable feature of using animation as an illustration tool is the ability to use the computer to create something that does not physically exist. For example, animation has been used for years to create products that ultimately never see the light of day. A leading semiconductor manufacturer recently retained the services of an animation expert in order to create a 3-D model and animation of a tool that was never actually constructed. The purpose was to prove that, while in documentation form the device seemed to be similar to another product that was readily available on the market, it in fact was different in terms of both purpose and function. Examples like this one clearly show the importance of animation in intellectual property disputes as well as litigation in general. While it is common to use an expert to get an animation series admissible, there is an equal responsibility on attorneys to familiarize themselves with the technology. A thorough understanding of the process is essential considering the possibilities of manipulation that are present with today’s technology. While many lawyers may feel it is out of their reach to understand the technology, there are many educational resources available. For lawyers to neglect this area is as bad as neglecting to keep up with recent case law in their practice areas. As more and more firms have internal departments that generate such work, computer animation is a valuable asset that can no longer be overlooked. James Thomas is the director of animation at MIM Legal Video and Graphics in Walnut Creek. He can be reached at [email protected].

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