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Forensic Animator - Career Profile

Written by Michelle BurtonSeptember 28, 2011
Forensic Animator
Did you know... Historically, The Digital Animation & Visual Effects School (DAVE School at Universal Studios Orlando) has placed a fair number of its graduates in the gaming industry, but now they have a new program specifically designed for careers in gaming. The program was designed and is overseen by a senior production supervisor who led teams on Ghostbusters and Kinect Star Wars. Learn more at
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What does a Forensic Animator do? Where does a Forensic Animator work? ACR takes a look:

About Forensic Animators

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Forensic animation is one of the most unique fields in the animation industry. Instead of creating animation for video games, films, and cartoons, professional forensic animators recreate crime scenes or accidents to help investigators produce evidence and solve crimes. In addition to a background in animation, many forensic animators have a legal or criminal justice background. 

Forensic Animator Jobs

Forensic animators use full-motion computer graphics to recreate events such as accidents, assaults, robberies, and other crimes. They create 3D terrains, model CG environments using advanced techniques for lighting, photomatching, and rendering; animate characters, composite animations, capture video, use video tracking and matching techniques, develop DVDs of final animations, design graphics and court exhibits, and use photogrammetry. 

Forensic animators must first collaborate with eyewitnesses, police officers, forensic experts, and others to create a series of fixed video images to use for creating an animated rendition of any given event. Forensic animators may use a number of software programs to create animated renditions including Illustrator, 3DS Max, AutoCad, Photoshop, Flash, After Effects, Premiere, Anark Studio, and Eos Systems Photomodeler.

Forensic animators work for law enforcement agencies, investigative firms, attorneys, government agencies, and science and medical labs. Many are self-employed.

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Forensic Animator Salaries

According to multiple job websites, forensic animators just starting out may earn anywhere from $14-$25 an hour for small to mid-sized projects. Advanced forensic animators typically charge no less than $100 an hour, with an average of $125-$180 an hour.

Becoming a Forensic Animator

A bachelor’s degree is the minimum education requirement for forensic animator positions, but many employers prefer a master’s degree plus two or more years’ experience in a professional environment. Exceptional 3D modeling, animation, and programming skills are essential as well as a background in math and physics. Many forensic animators also have a legal or criminal justice background, whether it’s a minor in either area, a certificate, or courses taken.

Job Trends for Forensic Animators

Over the years, forensic animation has gained popularity and acceptance in courtrooms across the country. Police agencies, government agencies, investigative services, and even news programs are now looking to forensic animators for help recreating scenes for investigative and dramatic purposes. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not report specific employment growth information for forensic animators. However, “animators” will see a 14 percent increase in employment growth through 2018—the highest increase of all artists and related workers in the U.S.