New Markets for Animators: Crime Re-enactment Films

Here’s a new and potentially lucrative market for animators: recreating alleged crimes with computer animation. Yes, primitive CG is often used in trials to describe locations and recreate crime scenes, but attorney Dan Gilleon is expanding the technique to create character animation that depicts physically accurate representations of the people involved in the incident and their interactions with each other.

Last week Gilleon released a computer animated film in a civil sexual harassment lawsuit filed against disgraced former San Diego mayor and convicted creep, Bob Filner. The video documents Filner’s allegedly crude behavior toward the accuser. Gilleon isn’t done yet either. “For this initial release, we downplayed some of the more severe acts by Filner, such as the initial handlock and the later headlock that included his elbow rubbing her breasts,” the attorney told a local San Diego TV station. “The story and animation will be developed as depositions occur, such as when the two park rangers depicted in the animation testify.”

Gilleon intends to introduce the computer-animated film as evidence in the lawsuit. While that plan seems unlikely to be allowed by the courts, the film has already served its purpose as a tactic to draw attention to the case. In the coming years, this novel use of animation could proliferate in our increasingly animated society, and it’s both tempting and troubling to think how a professional-quality animated film that strikes the right emotive notes might decisively alter the outcome of a future lawsuit.


  • Jack Rabbit

    Seems like a manipulative tool. I could see the courts going against the use of such a tactic. Unless, of course, it was a Kangaroo Court.

    • AmidAmidi

      Like I wrote, “tempting but troubling.”

  • Dr Evil

    The mayor looks and sounds like a comic book villain! Even that white shirt looks like a mad scientist lab coat!

  • slowtiger

    As if normal human memory isn’t already nothing to be trusted, we now get powerful reenactments of what is definitely not the truth. What’s next, plaintiff’s and attorney’s animated versions going into combat on screen?

    • Aaron R.R.R. Nance

      Seems to me that in many cases an animated recreation would be better than relying on nebulous and patchwork descriptions that a jury could easily forget or misinterpret. The opposing side would certainly be free to attack the veracity of the animation and even present their own. These animations would certainly be subject to the same evidentiary rules as other forms of evidence.

      Granted, as will all forms of evidence, there is the potential for abuse however ensuring that evidence is fair and appropriate is a large part of a judge’s pre-trial job. Personally I see this as more of a problem for the unfortunate animator that gets stuck recreating crime scenes for a living.

  • Roberto Severino

    Absolutely laughable. Those digital mannequins are really creepy and very unrealistic.

  • Honest_Miss

    You know what amazes me? Someone made this thing, and /intentionally/ chose the face the bad guy is making.

  • Daniel Cliff

    This is hilarious. I hope that someone does a crime re-enhancement film in clay, or in the style of a 1920s cartoon that’d be great

  • Derik

    I think this is a perfect depiction of many mayors. I don’t know the whole story with this particular one, but every mayor I have seen in public or met acted like this. They were way too touchy-feely, ignored to shake women’s hands, and would play off whatever crappy or creepy thing that just came out of their mouths.

    This story seems believable though. It features a witness/s and the job title/importance of the victim. She most likely wouldn’t need to press charges or ruin her reputation over a lie since she’s been working for the city park for about 32 years. Hope this animation helps her.

  • Derik

    I forgot to mention. That this isn’t entirely “bad” or “troubling” for things like car accidents or work related accidents. Sometimes animations really do help depict important information rather than sabotage someone’s image.

    A lawyer I had once told me he had a 3d animator friend who would make 3d models of streets and signs and vehicles/bicycles and have it all animated to help show judges how the street looked and accident if photographs weren’t clear enough. Then I remembered that about twenty-something years ago, my 3rd grade class had to learn about the court system. We visited court rooms and watched videos and they showed that TVs in the courtroom were used to not only play videos of evidence but also animations. So this has been going on for a long time, I guess it depends on the judge whether the animations are acceptable or not?

  • Aaron R.R.R. Nance

    And the Oscar for Best Animated Crime Reenactment goes to..

  • Inkan1969

    If they can’t use the animations in court cases, they can always use them in those “murder porn” shows on the Discovery owned networks.

  • George Comerci

    Always happy for new openings in animation :) and I agree, this seems absolutely hilarious