Santa Rosa company brings 3-D video game tech to courtroom

SANTA ROSA -- A Santa Rosa firm that helped pioneer the use of 3-D video game technology for interactive architectural simulations has found new growth in the courtroom, using the same approach to help juries visualize the elements of a legal case, according to company principal John Leo.

The evolving approach for Maraizon International (707-591-9610, comes as more companies enter the architectural simulation space, along with a recession-induced slowdown in the kind of high-profile construction projects that had once fueled a majority of the company's business.

"Lawyers are not very visual people by and large, but juries are," he said.

[caption id="attachment_93979" align="alignleft" width="308"] A Maraizon International simulation for courtroom use depicts the collision of two vehicles (screenshot from Maraizon video on YouTube)[/caption]

It was nearly 15 years ago that Maraizon was presenting noninteractive, 3-D simulations of downtown Santa Rosa before the Santa Rosa City Council, a model that could show the impact of various project proposals. The company took that approach to the next level in 2005, using development tools from a widely available first-person-perspective computer game to construct a model where users could move freely through the simulation and observe renderings from various angles.

The five-person company soon outgrew that graphics framework -- known as an "engine" -- and implemented an in-house engine in early 2008. The Maraizon-developed system was key for a 36-square-mile simulation of a proposed reservoir in the Sacramento foothills, a rendering that included more than 2 million trees.

"We needed a really robust engine," Mr. Leo said. "We had to write it ourselves."

Maraizon has completed visualizations for projects throughout the United States, with North Bay projects that include the expansion of the Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport and others.

[caption id="attachment_93980" align="alignright" width="360"] A Maraizon International animation depicts elements of the expansion of the Charles M. Schulz--Sonoma County Airport. (screenshot from a Maraizon video on YouTube)[/caption]

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