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Last Updated: Monday, 24 May, 2004, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Movie magic to benefit courts
Scene from road crash recreated using computer graphics
Computer graphics are re-creating scenes to assist courts
Sophisticated computer technology, as used in movie blockbusters such as James Bond, is being adapted for use in British court rooms by a mid Wales company.

Forensic Visuals, to be based in Aberystwyth, has already worked on a few cases where it has recreated eyewitness statements using computer graphics (CG).

CG, used in the last 007 adventure - Die Another Day - and the latest Star Wars' films, brings the impossible to life.

However, in court it is able to bring a scene from real life to a magistrates' bench or jury.

Stuart Wilson, of Forensic Visuals, claims his firm in the only one in the UK to specialise in the service.

I think British courts are seen as more traditional and old style, but this is cutting edge technology
Stuart Wilson, of Forensic Visuals

"This is widely used in films including Bond action flicks and Star Wars," said Mr Wilson, who is currently based in Saltney Ferry, Flintshire, north Wales.

"The Americans have been using CG in court for some time, but it's only recently that the British courts have begun to use this.

"I think British courts are seen as more traditional and old style, but this is cutting edge technology.

"I've been working on this for three to four years and have worked with the emergency services and legal teams.

"In all, I've worked on about 10 court cases in four years at crown courts in Oxford, Liverpool, a magistrates' court in Manchester and courts in Spain and Taiwan."

Three-dimensional scenes, technical illustrations and animated events for jurors, tribunals and legal teams, are being developed by Forensic Visuals.

It enables both prosecuting and defending counsel to play out an incident based on evidence collated from witnesses.

Stuart Wilson at work
Stuart Wilson has won a place at the Aber Technium centre as part of his award.

The concept has won Mr Wilson the Mid Wales regional prize in the Technium Challenge which includes a place in Aber Technium, at Aberystwyth - the latest addition to the pan-Wales Technium concept.

Lucrative

He said: "There are many circumstances when, for example, the complexity of expert witness statements does not lend itself to written or oral explanation but requires a visual medium to be clearly understood."

Legal technology expert, Charles Christian, said CG had been used in US courtrooms for 15 years and in selected cases in the UK for at least 10 years.

"It's by no means new, but this company (Forensic Visuals) is pioneering it in the UK.

"It's a more lucrative system in the US, but there are very few cases in the UK using this level of technology to make it viable for companies.

"The technology is used more in civil cases so in the US the evidence is presented before a jury, whereas in the UK civil cases are just before a judge.

"It's been used in the UK in large-scale criminal cases."


SEE ALSO:
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Computer animation takes centre-stage
29 Jul 03  |  Technology


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