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OREM LAB IS `MOST WANTED’ FOR 3-D IMAGING

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There's a good reason a woman's head is in the refrigerator at Viewpoint DataLabs International in Orem.

Producers of "America's Most Wanted" have asked the company to help digitally reconstruct it through dataset geometrics so police can find a murderer."What's happened," explained Walter Noot, director of customer accounts at Viewpoint, "is a guy fishing pulled up a body six years ago from the Grand River south of Fort Gibson Dam. It turned out it was a lady tied to a 28-pound cinder block from the bottom. Her hands were still clenched around the brick, so it must have been a horrible death.

"The exhumed body was sent to the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner's office, dried out and reconstructed with a 98 percent `skin' depth" out of clay.

"Daisy Jane Doe" - so named because she has a yellow daisy with green leaves tattooed on her left shoulder - then came to Viewpoint as a clay head built on the original skull so the experts could put her digitally into the computer.

Once done, the 3-D configuration gives the television producers and legal authorities the ability to add or change the color of her hair, her eyes, her skin tones and lips.

She can be aged, stressed, fatigued or plumped out. Her facial features can be modified.

Hopefully, one of the images - scheduled to be aired during the program in late July or early August - will trigger someone's memory and both the killer and the victim can be identified.

"The odds are pretty good that this is what she looked like," said Noot, pulling the oversize box from the refrigerator.

"What we do is free up the image so we can rotate the face, do different things that can help people really see her."

Noot said Viewpoint DataLabs already does a fair amount of work for legal cases, often digitizing a replay of an accident to prove or disprove a point or reconstructing the scene of a crime.

"We call ourselves the data leader because we can create anything in 3-D," said Noot.

"The show's producers were excited about what we could do, so we expect we'll be doing more of this," he said.

Steven Baranovics, producer of "America's Most Wanted," said the Viewpoint work is actually phase one of a two-phase process that involves several experts across the country.

After the geometric data leaves the Orem computer labs, it will go to an animator in Florida who will "marry" the data to flat artwork done by an artist in Austin, Texas.

"This is new for us," said Baranovics. "We're taking a forensic work of art that's evidence actually, and marrying that forensic integrity to the bust and the flat artwork."

Baranovics "found" Viewpoint through a recommendation from SoftImage out of Norfolk, Va.

Already the tiny company is handling a variety of major clients, supplying digital data for everything from cars to comic book characters.

The morph faces in "The Stand" came from Viewpoint DataLabs. So did the special effects in "Batman Returns," the upcoming "Shadow" show and many episodes of the "Star Trek: The Next Generation."

Viewpoint had a hand - or rather a computer - in Bud Light commercials, the JFK television movie assassination, and Viper commercials.

The company has more than 1,500 different items in its catalog of available data and more on the way.

A typical job takes a little over a week, although emergency assignments can be worked up even faster.

The variety of tasks is limitless, from cartoon feet to a kneecap.

Viewpoint is providing teaching models for the medical community, models that let those learning to be doctors see the inside and outside of a situation.

"We try to create everything that exists," said Noot.

And that's a painstaking process, at least on the marking end. Whatever is being worked up must be "broken" into pieces with a pen or tape, then entered into the computer. The person mapping is meticulous, noting every detail and bump or bone along the way.

A technician then refines and finishes the model.

"We work with pictures and we sculpt. We can laser scan. That gives us all the proportions that you can get from a flat photo."

"We provide the data, that's our focus. And we're the first ones doing this," said Noot.