NICHE MARKETS: Forensic Animation (Tell us about your trade)

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  04 April 2005
NICHE MARKETS: Forensic Animation (Tell us about your trade)

I want to post a series of thread dedicated to niche markets.
So if are involved in Forensic Animation, tell us about your trade, and
show us some samples of your work.

Looking forward to your comments.

-R
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  04 April 2005
I have found that they are typically high budgets without the need for commercial quality. Although many lawyers and juries are beginning to expect it. Since special effects are such a huge part of visual entertainment, people are more "educated" as far as expections with animation. The general population is watching the DVD extras and are starting to expect that in visual presentation. When I first started forensic animation in 1996, they were supposed to be low poly no texture simple animation. Judges did not want "Hollywood" in their courtroom. Now they want it. Also, we have found the more realistic and dramatic the animation(still based and supported by engineering) the quicker the settlement. Right now I am working on an accident that they want skidmarks, dust, smoke, broken glass and anything else we can do to make it awesome. Usually the other side will settle quicker if they realize that their case is not as strong and do not have the coin to fund an expensive animation. I have found that the highest paid or largest scale animations are for patent litigation. Basically, companies suiing each other over patent theft.

Here are some of the animations I have been involved in. Again, they are not commercial quality and maybe not quite polished enough for CGTalk, but the lawyers and clients love them.

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/Airflow.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/BikeCrash.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animati...htCollision.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/QVS.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/Sim01.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/Sim01r.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/Sim02f.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/Sim02r.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/Sim3.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/Suzuki%201.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/Suzuki%202.wmv

http://xlnt3d.com/Portfolio/Animation/TexasCollapse.wmv


Last edited by XLNT-3d : 04 April 2005 at 06:26 PM.
 
  04 April 2005
also, our clients idea of a win is only paying out 2 million not 15 million. To me, its more of a competition. I want to beat the other sides animation. What sucks is that many people will never see it. Sometimes it doesn't make it to court because of settlement and sometimes, they settle before the animation is complete so we do not finish it unless it will help a portfolio
 
  04 April 2005
Awesome work!

Thaks for posting it.
-R
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  04 April 2005
Although I do not do animation, my career involves a niche market, so I thought I would post.

I do commercial product concepts modeling and rendering for a hardware manufacturing company. I do not consider it Industrial Design as ther is very little engineering involved in the process...much more visual and creative design at the stage during the manufacturing process that I am in, new product development. I own my own business working from home about 80 hours a week doing a plethora of different types of work, but they are my "anchor" client, taking roughly 80% of my design time.

I've posted a variety of my renderings HERE. The products Ive designed have ended up - by way of this client - in Lowe's, Home Depot and Target stores nationwide. Now don't get me wrong...none of my hardware designs (or renderings of them) are what I would call "art" by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not designing kitchen knobs to hang in the Guggenheim. This is about manufacturing production. However, the visual processes, the modeling and rendering and the ideas for the products definately require a certain amount of design and creativity. Ideally, I would be doing paintings or sculpture for a living, but I'd rather actually MAKE a living through my efforts, which is what Ive done.

What I do is come up with initial product ideas and deliver realisitic quality renderings of those ideas in various settings. I use the term realistic very loosely. My work is certainly not photorealistic, nor could it be under the constraints of the schedule. What the client wants from me 9 times out of 10 is as decent visual representation of an idea, not a print-quality photorealistic magazine ad. All of the design work is completed prior to any engineering involvment, although I do work with the engineers if I have any technical or standards concerns prior to or during a work. Occasionally I will work with them afterwards to make adjustments/revisions or to modify my models so that they can then work with them directly.

My primary software is TrueSpace 6.6. I realize there are a variety of applications out ther which handle this much better, faster, more detailed, more involved, more creative, etc. (i.e. ProE WildFire, Inventor) Now I can hear the groans from many of you already, so understand my reasons for this:

1) It was inexspensive
2) It was extremely intuitive for someone unfamiliar with Maya or MAX, a great starter program. For me the learning curve was about 3 months before I was at a production level and speed necessary for the work required. This application has an extremely fast workflow or pipeline, and the interface is much more intuitive than most other 3D apps out there.
3) The constraints and the expectations of the client did not call for high end rendering, rigging, animating, lighting, etc. They would not have been willing to pay for the time and effort required to complete that calibre of work. They needed a quick and dirty solution for a common industrial problem - how to get from a pencil sketch or idea into something a client could visualize in a kitchen or bathroom. I need to work VERY fast on most of these designs. The designs in the gallery link I provided were all done in half a day or less for concept, sketch, model, texturing, lighting and renders. In some of the projects I worked on I have 30 or 40 to do in a SINGLE MONTH. THat leaves very little time to work on high end imaging.

I have used Inventor (version 7...ick) and taken a few classes in ProEngineer. Both of those programs left me feeling like I was using a calculator to do my work. I needed a solution that was more intuitive - geared towards a right-brained indivudual, not a rocket scientist. The search for that solution led me to CG, andd the various applications that are involved with it.

To end this rather long post, let me just say that, while not the most demanding or artistic work I have ever done, what this niche market work HAS allowed me to do is make a decent income - and here's the clincher - WHILE I am teaching myself how to use higher-end applications like Zbrush and MAX, which is where I'm at now. I do not have the luxury of spending years of my life (at this point I'm 37) dedicated to going to school to learn CG. I have to teach myself while I make a living. That I have found a way to work using my creativity in a field that is exactly what I'm trying to learn and improve in is a real blessing. It's a best case scenario for me as a CG artist. I dont plan on designing hardware forever, but until my skillset improves using high end apps, I am still getting paid to do 3D modeling and rendering for a living. I am getting paid not only while I teach myself, not only in a field that allows me to be creative, but in a filed which is actually using the tools I am trying to learn. Best case scenario.

Hope this was ok for this thread. I wasn't clear on if this was about Niche Market CG work or about Forensic Animation. Forgive me if I was wrong, but thanks for reading.
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Last edited by macievelli : 04 April 2005 at 06:23 PM.
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by macievelli: Hope this was ok for this thread. I wasn't clear on if this was about Niche Market CG work or about Forensic Animation. Forgive me if I was wrong, but thanks for reading.


It will be once one of the products you design are blamed in an accident or patent or design theft. Then I get to remodel the whole thing again because they will never provide the original model
 
  04 April 2005
I hear what you're sayinig about your work, and it's reliance on accidents and litigation. I think it's incredible how CG is making its way into all these other areas that never before had anything to do with 3D. I think both of our niche markets are perfect examples: There IS work out there beyond the gaming and film industry.

Just for clarification: In one of those renders you can see that there is a model of a Mies Van Der Rhohe (sp?) chair, which is one of the most recognizable pieces of furniture ever designed, which is actually why I used it. That chair is certainly not my design, and I do not imply that it is, here or to my clients. Not only did I obviously not design the original Barcelona chair, the model is free from turbosquid, retextured and slightly modified for that render. The furniture in all these rooms is window dressing...its not the important aspect of the work, only used to suggest the setting - a living room, kitchen, etc. The use of the Barcelona chair in that room lends familiarity to the setting. The chair is recognizable and that is specifically why I used it. It helps define the space and it's usage. In recognizing it the client understands that, ok...this is a living room, a casual environment. It helps define the function and style of the product concept, which in that room is a mobile media cart hanging on the wall.
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  04 April 2005
Well, I recently got out of litigation animation. I had done it for the past 5 years or so.
The first thing I'd have to say about it is: Litigation animation is very very demanding and not as personally rewarding as many other fields. It pays well but it sucks the life out of you.
It's very challenging as far as understanding concepts, technical accuracy and dealing with lawyers So, that can be rewarding... the "not everyone can do it" aspect. That and beating XLNT at a beauty contest.
I can't post any of the stuff I've done. The company I was working for is monitoring the site... just waiting. They recently asked me to remove an image that I did post. I didn't think it was a big deal because it's an existing product that every man owns but they asked me to remove it... and I did.
XLNT touched on something that I have to agree with: With shows like CIS the jury is becoming much more in tune with animation and just like in Hollywood they are starting to expect more, which is good for the litigation animator/artist.

I do think that once my noncompete expires I may get back into it... freelancing.
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by macievelli: I hear what you're sayinig about your work, and it's reliance on accidents and litigation. I think it's incredible how CG is making its way into all these other areas that never before had anything to do with 3D. I think both of our niche markets are perfect examples: There IS work out there beyond the gaming and film industry.


Computer animation has been in forensics since the 80s and possibly the 70s. The last company I worked for did really cool stop motion. They had a whole bunch of minitures and a track to move a camera along.


Originally Posted by johnnyh66: That and beating XLNT at a beauty contest.

In the past it was easy to be the best, because the competition was slim. At least those with the large budgets and openiness to textures and effects. Now it is getting a little more even with software/hardware and talent that is cheaper. However, I welcome all to the beauty contest . The only time it isn't as fun is when the other side did a crappy visual job because it was low budget.
 
  04 April 2005
I worked for a forensic animation studio for a couple months and can completely agree with what XLNT 3D said, it really can suck the life out of you. The way a court case works, you can sometimes be stuck with a deadline that is next to near to impossible to meet. Many lawyers are just now starting to use animations for litigation and so they do not know the process and the time it can take. Also a creative mind is severely halted in this field as anything produced must be admissible in court. The result is very dry animations that clearly show facts and donít lean towards either opinion. The exception to this is in closing argument and settlement videos. As with any animation industry, an eye for detail is very important.
The majority of my work was for architectural defect cases where something was wrong with the constructions and the building either collapsed and hurt someone, or a staircase fell, etc. The pay was great and the people I worked with were amazing, and sometimes I felt like I was helping someone. And given enough time I felt I could produce some pretty cool stuff. Sorry, I also can't post anything. So it definitely has its rewards.
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  04 April 2005
I've heard that companies who do litigation graphics can be VERY abusive to work for.
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by Kodos: I've heard that companies who do litigation graphics can be VERY abusive to work for.


I've heard the same about video game companies and companies that create special effects and animation for film

Depends on who told you and what their baggage was. There is not always room for creative fluff, but typically you are treated fine. You are working with professionals with law degrees and those with P.E., Masters and PhDs as far as education. Also, lawyers can be very confident. You must be able to project the same attitude. It is a varied mix, but if you handle yourself as a professional, then you will be treated like one. If you act like an artsy fartsy flake, then you will be treated as such. Piercings, cool tatoos and creative facial hair do not go far with lawyers and engineers. Sometimes that is the down side. No casual jeans or shorts or cool colored and styled hair.

Last edited by XLNT-3d : 04 April 2005 at 02:52 PM.
 
  04 April 2005
Originally Posted by XLNT 3d: I've heard the same about video game companies and companies that create special effects and animation for film

Depends on who told you and what their baggage was. There is not always room for creative fluff, but typically you are treated fine. You are working with professionals with law degrees and those with P.E., Masters and PhDs as far as education. Also, lawyers can be very confident. You must be able to project the same attitude. It is a varied mix, but if you handle yourself as a professional, then you will be treated like one. If you act like an artsy fartsy flake, then you will be treated as such. Piercings, cool tatoos and creative facial hair do not go far with lawyers and engineers. Sometimes that is the down side. No casual jeans or shorts or cool colored and styled hair.

Agreed. I once worked for a small multimedia company that offered a broad range of animation services including forensics and accident recreation. In my situation I had to definitely dress professionally since I was often reqiured to sit in client meetings. It was actually pretty cool and it gave me the advantage of talking directly to the client FIRST so that I have a clear understanding of what they need (sometimes getting the info second hand can be a problem if your boss doesn't fully understand 3D himself ) and so the client has a clear understanding of the creation process. Clients (especially litigation clients) don't typically have faith in people who LOOK overly artsy, whereas a professional look gives the client confidence in your abilities. In fact, they tend to be more open to your suggestions as an artist if you appoach them with a professional look and attitude.
I wish that I could post some of the work I did, but my old boss made it clear that he owned everything I produced for him.
XLNT 3d, your work is awesome and definitely polished enough to show here at CGTalk.
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  04 April 2005
Thanks Locutus. On a side note, so I don't get elbowed, two of the animations above(night collision and the jet ski accident) were team effort by my supervisor. His name is Bil here at CGTalk. Also, most of the vehicle motion is imported data from simulation software or actual test track computer input data.

Last edited by XLNT-3d : 04 April 2005 at 05:12 PM.
 
  04 April 2005
I understand your points about professionalism and they are valid but I know someone is this field and he tells a very different story.

Years ago I worked for two firms that did trial graphics. (pre-3d) Both of which are no longer in business. I can tell you the people I worked for were extremely abusive nutjobs with tons of mental problems. No joke. The thing that really bugged me was there was no need for their behavior. All the work got done on-time and every deadline was met. They just enjoyed treating people like garbage.

But it's nice to hear that other people's experiences are more positive. I find this kind of work very interesting.
 
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