The 3D crime scene: AI2-3D forensic animations

is a Canadian firm which specializes in crime scene reconstructions and 3D forensic animated visualization. Using modern technology like laser scanning and photogrammetry, the company has helped forensic scientists, crime scene investigators, lawyers or detectives to visually piece together information for over 60 cases worldwide.

If you’re a fan of the popular TV shows CSI or Law and Order, than chances are you’ve come across the infamous graphic reconstructions often depicted episode after episode. In reality, behind the scenes, these kind of reconstructions involve a long and tedious process, usually lasting at least 8 weeks. Every piece has to be accurately placed, and this takes time, otherwise the point of recreating a situation as faithfully as possible becomes flawed.  Ai2-3D is the real deal when virtual crime scene reconstruction is concerned, and recently we’ve managed to reach the company’s CEO, Eugene Liscio, who was kind enough to answer some of ITSGOV’s questions.

Ai2-3D Ai23-D

Ballistic trajectory passing through a body in a reconstructed crime scene environment. (C) AI2-3D

ITSGOV: Video animations and scene reconstructions have been around for quite a while. What does AI2-3D bring new to the table?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D: Many people involved in providing animation services come from an artistic background and do not approach a 3D Reconstruction in quite the same manner. My background is in Engineering (Aerospace Engineer) and there are 3 main components to my work. The first is Measurement/Mapping which is the foundation of any reconstruction. I use either laser scanners, total stations, photogrammetry or direct/hand measurements to create highly detailed models or to document a scene. The second component is the analysis. Where many people might jump right to the visualization, my interests are in the analysis of the data and trying to determine what pieces of information I can extract or pull from the scene model that might have an impact on the case. Finally, the visualization is the presentation of the data and the analysis either as a plan drawing, still image (3D Render), animation or a Forensic Virtual Model (i.e. interactive model). So, what AI2-3D brings to the table is a full documentation, analysis and visualization service.

Car accident reconstruction

ITSGOV: How accurate are the facts you depict in the AI2-3D animations (i.e.the position of the bicycle rider with respect to the car on the moment of impact) and how do you come about this information?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D:This is a great question. The physical evidence that comes from a scene is really what defines positions. Things like scrape marks, tire marks, vehicle crush, bloodstains, bullet trajectories, patterned injuries…etc. are physical evidence that can be interpreted by an experienced reconstructionist, bloodstain pattern analysis, pathologist or ballistics expert to tell you how some things contacted each other or how they were positioned.

In some cases, the amount of information is very limited and you have to start looking at many possibilities and scenarios about the events of the crime or accident. This is often useful in the investigation as it can provide some insight into other areas where investigators need to look for evidence. However, the legal “weight” of these reconstructions is limited due to their lack of physical measurements taken at the scene. So, you use these reconstructions as tools to aid the investigation, but not as substantive evidence.

Crime scene reconstruction with photogrammetry

ITSGOV: Do you have close ties with local authorities/forensic institutions?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D: Absolutely. I have done training for local and international police agencies and am currently doing some research with a local police force about measurement of bullet trajectories. I also believe it’s important to keep close ties with students and academic institutions and I currently have 3 students doing research at the University of Toronto (Forensic Sciences Program). By the end of this year, I will have been to conferences and speaking engagements in Germany, Holland, Canada, USA and Brazil.

ITSGOV: How often are you called about?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D: I travel about once a month, usually to “local” places, but a few times to the US to work on homicide cases. With all the communication tools available today, it’s quite easy to keep updated and speak with colleagues from all over the world so sometimes travel is not required, especially when evidence can be shipped to your doorstep.

ITSGOV: I understand AI2-3D reconstructions are sometimes used in court. What are their impact? Do they sometime account as evidence?

Eugene Liscio, AI2-3D: Once accepted in court, the evidence is either demonstrative evidence or substantive evidence. My work has been accepted in court either on its own or in many cases as part of another experts report. It’s difficult to quantify exactly how an animation helped so you have to rely on feedback from lawyers, investigators and scientists who are my clients. Lawyers and attorneys like the fact that they can have something visual to present that might make a complex subject a bit simpler to understand. On the other hand, many of the forensic experts I work with appreciate the scenario testing we can do to qualify a certain hypothesis about a crime.

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