Simulation and animation have similarities and differences

Computer simulation and animation are well known for their uses in visualizing and explaining complex and dynamic events. They are also useful in the analysis and understanding of these same types of events. That is why they are becoming increasingly used in litigation. While simulation and animation are different, they both involve the application of 3D computer graphics and are presented in that form with motion on a video screen.

Simulation and animation have similarities and differences:

  • Both use computer graphics and motion presented on a video screen.
  • The difference is how the motion is derived.
    • Animation uses key frames to define the position and orientation of objects at specific points in time and the computer provides the motion in between to achieve the smooth motion of the objects.
    • Simulation uses computer programs, which rely on the laws of physics and engineering to analyze the event and produce the motion, which is represented on the video screen.

Both simulation and animation have their strong points:

  • Simulation produces motion, which is consistent with the laws of physics and relies on the inputs by the user to be consistent with the events portrayed.
  • The motion in an animation can be derived from a reconstruction of the event or can be taken from a simulation.
  • At Fay Engineering, most of the motion used in animations is derived from simulation.
  • Currently available animation software is more advanced in the ability to build objects and scenes to achieve photos-realism.
  • Current simulation software is able to produce a dynamic visualization in a fraction of the time required by an animation.
  • The best results are achieved by using both simulation and animation together.