in 2d!

A collision occurs in the crosswalk.

This Spring, Fat Pencil Studio is offering a new process: SceneViz 2d, a fast and effective way to present evidence in motor vehicle and other injury cases. I’ll get to the details in a moment, but first the back story:

In 2010, I served as jury foreman on a misdemeanor hit-and-run case in Multnomah County, Oregon. When deliberation started, I was surprised that six people who had listened to the same testimony could arrive at such different initial conclusions. Then I remembered that the testimony had indeed been all talk, and people understand words differently. The one attempt at visual communication came from the defense attorney who asked a witness to come off the stand and draw a map of the scene on a blank easel pad. The poor guy had no artistic training and his doodle was unintelligible. How easy would it have been to bring in a simple map of the scene and let the witness mark on top of it? To me it seemed like an obvious missed opportunity, but few attorneys have graphics training, and the case was too small to warrant the hiring of an outside expert.

Also in 2010, Fat Pencil Studio developed our unique SceneViz process that allows people to give testimony and explain ideas visually with the aid of real-time 3d graphics. In the past three years we’ve had great success using SceneViz on a series of complex court cases. We’ve helped attorneys, experts, and fact witnesses explain themselves with compelling precision. However, the time involved in creating 3d graphics has limited the use of SceneViz to high value cases.

All along, I kept thinking about my experience with the misdemeanor case. I wondered what graphic services we could offer for smaller cases — something less time-consuming and expensive that would help create a common understanding of testimony and events. And that’s where SceneViz 2d comes in.

Unlike more complex projects which require a custom scope of work, SceneViz 2d follows a proven 4-step process:

  1. Review available case documents (police reports, depositions, etc.).
  2. Create a scaled diagram showing incident location and events.
  3. Confirm details during a brief screen-sharing conference call.
  4. Deliver compelling graphics to support your case.

The entire process takes just a few days to complete. It’s efficient for us because we’ve got the procedure down pat. It’s efficient for clients because revisions are handled in real time during a short conference call. All this efficiency adds allows us to offer SceneViz 2d at a reasonable fixed price for most cases. The final graphics typically include a series of still images or slides that describe circumstances immediately before, during and after the incident. For a small additional charge we can deliver poster boards or a video clip with voiceover.

If you've never considered developing custom graphics for these smaller cases, consider the not-so-great alternatives:

  • Police report diagrams are usually not drawn to scale, sometimes omitting important information.
  • Annotated aerial photos are often blurry and confusing. It's hard to present important details amidst all the noise.
  • Crime scene software uses a generic intersection as a base map that could be dismissed as inaccurate.

Perhaps most importantly, SceneViz 2d frees up your time to focus on moving the case forward, aided by clear graphics to make your demand letter stand out from the crowd and provide added leverage in settlement negotiations. If the case does go to trial, you'll be prepared with visual aids that help make your client's story memorable during jury deliberations.


Joshua Cohen is a Principal at Fat Pencil Studio