SceneViz 101


I’m a big believer in using 3d models to visualize crime scenes. The practice dates back to the 1940s (see Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death) when detailed physical models were used to train detectives. New technology has made it possible to create accurate digital models quickly enough to be used in active cases.

Fat Pencil Studio has been modeling crime scenes for several years, and we’ve found it to be very helpful for preliminary investigation, settlement negotiations, and trial exhibits. In an effort to get the word out to a wider audience, I teamed up with two colleagues — Brian Wangler and Larry Zent — to offer a seminar for law enforcement professionals called Scene Visualization 101: Crime scene and accident investigation using photogrammetry, laser scanning, and 3d modeling.


Brian talked about his workflow at the Larimer County Sherrif’s office, using a Faro laser scanner and SketchUp 3d modeling software. Larry talked about his experience training professionals to use 3d modeling software. I showed a bunch of examples where 3d visualization helped win cases, and offered a “build your own crime scene” SketchUp model for folks to try out.

If you’re interested in getting a copy of this model, or offering a similar seminar for your agency, please get in touch!


Joshua Cohen is a Principal at Fat Pencil Studio