Six Steps to Cost Effective Graphics Presentations
|LITIGATION GRAPHICS - COMPUTER ANIMATION - TECHNICAL ILLUSTRATION - CAD DRAFTING - AUTOLISP PROGRAMMING
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New technology in the field of computer graphics has allowed for significantly lower production cost and for a more
routine use of computer graphics in the courtroom. To effectively take advantage of this ever-changing technology,
and to keep the costs down, one must be familiar with the production process. First and foremost, the expert witness
should be engaged to manage and streamline the information presented to the graphics specialist. This liaison is
essential in limiting costly revisions to the product. The client should be aware of the following steps of production, but
should understand that his primary role is to determine the objective of the graphic and to perform the final review of
Step 1 – Determine the Objective
To produce a clear, precise message or concept to an audience is the ultimate objective of the graphic or animation.
In order to achieve this, a clear understanding of what the final product should illustrate or convey is required. A
coordinated effort by the client, project coordinator, and graphic specialist is essential. The client should understand
that this is the foundation of the project, and a well-defined goal provides for a smoother and more cost-effective
production process. A surprising number of graphics projects progress without the designer having a clear concept of
the clients needs.
Step 2 – Select the Medium
What medium will most effectively convey the desired concept to the audience? Choices consist of graphic “still”
images or court boards, animations, or combination of the two, (such as in PowerPoint presentations). The objective
to be conveyed typically dictates the medium in which the graphic is presented. Concepts that can be depicted fully by
using still images present well to a jury, due to the longer observation time. With animation, the key concepts may only
be seen for a short duration during the animation episode. However, many topics lend themselves exclusively to
animation. Automobile accident reconstruction, for example, is dependant on a time-based format and presents well
with animation. It gives the viewer a clear sense of the order and timing of the accident, something not easily
conveyed with still images. A “hybrid” format approach often used in the courtroom is a PowerPoint presentation. This
powerful format combines the use of still graphics with animated features, and most importantly is fully controlled by
the presenter. Graphics depicting important concepts in a PowerPoint presentation can be shown to the audience
longer, other not so important concepts can be run through quickly, all at the discretion of the presenter.
Step 3 – Reference Material and Data Collection
Collection of all applicable data out the outset, such a drawings, field notes, photographs, exemplar parts, and field
sketches is vital. It is essential that all the data is checked for discrepancies and any that are found be resolved before
the graphic creation process begins. The data presented to the graphics specialist is best produced, acquired and
screened by the expert witness. Without accurate dimensions or other relevant information, estimates must take their
place. These estimates can greatly extend the graphic creation process and subsequently the cost. In the courtroom,
approximations can also affect the validity of the graphic.
Step 4 – Storyboards and Sketches
The next step in the graphic creation process is creating a series of detailed sketches depicting the key event of an
animation, often referred to as a storyboard. Having a clear, definitive storyboard aids the production process,
whereas a poorly established storyboard (or none at all) can lead to a multitude of revisions, excessive production
time, cost, and decreased graphic quality.
Rough sketches of still graphics will, in many cases trap potential problems with a concept.
Step 5 – Graphic Creation
When the previous steps are complete, then and only then should the actual creation of the graphic begin. The small
of amount of time taken to address the prior steps will pay big rewards at this stage, in final cost and quality.
Step 6 – Final Review
The client, project coordinator/expert witness, and the graphics specialist should all be involved in the final review. At
this time, only minor aesthetic changes such as adjustments to color and text should be made. Changes to content
and structure should only be undertaken with the understanding the cost and quality of the project will most likely be
Understanding and taking the time to follow the steps outlined above will lead to fewer revisions, fewer headaches,
and produce more effective graphics at an affordable price. As computer graphics technology continues to advance,
the cost of creating animations and still imagery will continue to decline. With our state of the art technology, Pixel
Graphics can help you plan and prepare high impact, cost-effective graphics.
Jeff Winship - Computer Graphics Consultant April 17, 2008