Posts Tagged ‘3D animations’

See How a Centrifugal Clutch Works With Animation

Monday, December 16th, 2013

      Ever wondered if a running horse lifts all four of its feet off the ground at the same time?   Leland Stanford, an industrialist and horseman of the late 19th Century did, and he hired photographer Eadweard Muybridge to find out.   Muybridge’s series of 24 photographs of Stanford’s horse, Sallie Gardner, came to be known as Sallie Gardner at a Gallop and is regarded to be an early example of silent film.

courtroom demonstratives

      The Muybridge photos were viewed at increased speed on a zoopraxiscope, a device he invented in 1879.   A precursor to modern movie projectors, it projected a series of independent photographs as a moving image through the use of multiple cameras shooting the subject at different points in time.   In this way it was disclosed that yes, indeed, there were moments when all four of a galloping horse’s feet hover in mid air.   Today’s moving images are displayed at between 24 and 300 fps, depending on the application.

      Muybridge’s experiment proved that not only are moving images more engaging than static ones, they are also more explicit, able to convey information still images are not.   Take for example this series of stills of a centrifugal clutch assembly.

centrifugal clutch expert

      Are you able to tell by looking at these two-dimensional images how a clutch works?   How as the engine speeds up the spinning shoes move out and make contact with the clutch housing, this pressure causing the entire assembly to spin?   Unless you’re familiar with clutches, probably not.

      Now here’s the same clutch brought to life through animation:

      In today’s fast paced, internet-laden society, people’s attention spans are shorter than ever, and their demands to be visually engaged are high.   It’s been proven that holding a modern day viewer’s attention for more than three seconds is a difficult task.   This truth is evident in the courtroom as well, where trial attorneys are obliged to increase the production value of evidence presented in order to win over juries, and animation is becoming their tool of choice.

      What held true more than 100 years ago still holds true today:  Nothing tells a story like a moving image.

      Next time we’ll switch gears, quite literally, to understand how a series of gears work together to power machinery.


Note: If you are viewing this blog article in an email and the animation video does not appear, then click on this link to view the article with your web browser.      


Courtroom Animations – Perception: Images vs. Words

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

      Ever play that game as a kid where you whisper something in the next kid’s ear, and she whispers it to the next kid, and on down the line?   When the first and last kids’ renditions of what was whispered are compared, they’re vastly different.   Part of the reason for this is that when whispering from ear to ear no visual cues as to the message’s content are present.

courtroom demonstratives 3D animations

      There’s a reason that the world’s leading language learning systems use visual images to facilitate learning.   It’s the same reason that individuals who move to a foreign country can quickly acquire the new language.   Visual cues inform the brain in a way that words alone cannot.

      Words and images are intimately linked within the human brain. If only words are employed, perceptions are bound to be less than exact between individuals. This can present a problem in the courtroom, when the precision of received messages is of the most crucial importance.

      How can attorneys address this problem to produce a message which has the highest likelihood of being perceived identically by all jurors? By delivering their message through visual images. Studies show that when visual images are provided, perception between individuals is more uniform.

      Several weeks ago a two dimensional (2D) patent drawing was introduced in our blog series.   Granted, it was a visual image, and yet a complete understanding of how the machine actually operated remained a mystery to most.   Then we transformed that 2D image into an attention-grabbing 3D animation.   By doing so, all gaps in understanding were closed.   Sometimes, particularly with complex things, only a moving representation will provide the required clarity.

      Next week we’ll further examine how limitations in perception affect what goes on in the courtroom.   In the meantime I invite you to ponder the impact of this statement, made by the country’s leading authority in the field of jury behavior and trial strategy, Dr. Donald E. Vinson:

      “Several studies on attention span indicate that even persons who are intensely interested in the topic at hand cannot maintain a high level of attention for more than 20 minutes.”


Courtroom Animations – Bringing Patents to Life

Monday, June 17th, 2013

      Movies, that is 3D animations, are moving into the courtroom, and intended messages are made clearer than ever as a result.   If a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more effective is a moving 3D image?

      We’ve been viewing a static two-dimensional representation of a machine for the past two blogs.   Have you been able to figure it out yet?   Here it is again:


bringing patent illustrations to life with 3D animations


      Would it help you to understand if I identified it as a piece of food manufacturing equipment equipped with a rake that aligns cookies on a conveyor belt?   Would that verbal description allow you to “see” in your mind’s eye how it operates?   Unless you had the right technical background, it’s unlikely.

      Last week we introduced the verbiage person of ordinary skill in the art as a term widely used within patent litigation.   This person is said to have the ability to interpret and understand patent drawings, and they typically possess a technical and/or scientific background.

      But what if participants in a legal proceeding lack this background?   Technical experts are often hired on as consultants to attorneys, and in some instances, judges, when clarification is required.   These experts provide technical expertise and tutorials on the technology involved in complex cases, and it happens with regularity when the operation of a patented device is in question.

      By employing 3D animations the expert can show how the device operates, rather than attempt to explain it using the technical language of their profession.   The expert works closely with an animation artist to create the animation, providing the technical information that the animator will use to create the fully functional model.   Animators do not typically have the technical background to accomplish this on their own and will require an ongoing dialog with the technical expert to create the animation.

      And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for.   Here is our static image brought to life through animation:



      The animation commands the viewer’s attention and holds their interest, even if they have no background in engineering or science, and the device’s function is now made clear.   It must be noted that in the patent drawing, part of the mechanism lies in front of a steel divider plate and part behind, but for purposes of clarity the entire mechanism has been shown to the front of the plate.   Now there’s no doubt as to how the parts move together to even up the rows of cookies on the conveyor belt.

      Next week we’ll talk about juries, perception, and the advantages of using courtroom animations when at trial.

Patent Drawings – “Ordinary Skill in the Art”

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

      Last week I introduced this illustration as a typical patent drawing and asked if you could decipher the riddle of its functionality.


food manufacturing equipment patent drawing


      Patent drawings are static, two dimensional (2D) representations of proposed inventions which are meant to be manufactured in three dimensions (3D).   As such they present a lot of complex information on a flat page.

      If you don’t have a clue as to what this machine is, I guarantee you’re not alone.   The average person wouldn’t.   There’s a bunch of lines, shapes and numbers, but what do they signify?   How are they meant to all come together and operate?

      As a matter of fact, the average person isn’t meant to understand patent drawings.   That’s because they’re not what patent courts have defined as a person of ordinary skill in the art, a peculiar term which basically means that the Average Joe or Josephine isn’t meant to be able to interpret them.

      Rather, the interpretation of patent drawings is left to individuals with specialized skills and training, a particular educational background and/or work experience.   These individuals are typically able to view a static 2D image and visualize how the illustrated device moves, how it operates.   Those said to fall within the court’s definition as having ordinary skill in the art are in fact often engineers and scientists.

      Since the average person does not have a background in engineering and science, it can be challenging for patent attorneys to present their cases in the courtroom, particularly when relying on 2D representations alone.   That’s where animations come in.

      Next time we’ll use the magic of animation to transform our cryptic 2D patent illustration into a functional 3D animation of a machine whose operation is easily understood by the average person.


Determining Patent Eligibility – Part 7, Process

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

      We’ve been discussing hurtles which must be jumped in order for an inventor’s creation to be considered for a patent.   Federal statutes, namely 35 USC § 101, define the bases of patentability, including providing definitions on key terms, such as what constitutes a machine, an article of manufacture, and a composition of matter.   Today we’ll wrap up our discussion on determining patent eligibility when we explore the final hurtle by defining process.

      To get an understanding of what is meant by process, we must look to the lawsuit of Gottschalk v. Benson, a case involving patentability of a mathematical algorithm within a computer program.   In this case the US Supreme Court held that a process is a series of steps or operations that transform substances or came about by way of a newly invented machine.

      Based on the Court’s definition, a process can be many things, from a production line that transforms corn into corn chips within a food manufacturing plant to a mathematical algorithm running within software on the platform of a newly devised type of computer.   However, the term usually pertains to a series of operations or steps, most frequently manufacturing in nature, where physical substances are transformed into useful products, that is, they possess the quality of utility, as discussed earlier in this blog series.   A “physical substance” is anything of a physical nature existing on our planet.


Engineering Expert Witness Patent Infringement


      Before I end this series I’d like to mention that under 35 USC § 101 an invention can be eligible for a patent if it makes a useful and beneficial improvement to an existing machine, article of manufacture, composition of matter, or process.   That is to say, something may have already been patented which performs a specific function, but if that is improved upon in any significant way, it may receive a new patent.

      For example, suppose an improved process for manufacturing food products was developed by adding additional steps to an existing patented process.   If this improvement results in benefits such as lowered production costs, increased production rate, or reduced health risks to consumers, then this improved process may be eligible for a patent under 35 USC § 101.

      Next time we’ll begin an exploration of the growing presence of 3D animations within the courtroom, specifically how they bring static 2D patent drawings to life.