Defense

July 6, 2016
 

Visualizing threats: A decade of threat modeling

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SrA. Matthew Lotz
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio

Dynamic explosions, missile launches and air-to-air dogfights are just a few animations the National Air and Space Intelligence Center threat visualization team at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, create to help communicate potential threats in the world. For the past decade, these types of animations have allowed policymakers at all levels of government to watch a video clip, rather than read a stack of intelligence reports filled with military jargon and technical data.

Dynamic explosions, missile launches and air-to-air dogfights are just a few animations the National Air and Space Intelligence Center threat visualization team create to help communicate potential threats in the world.

For the past decade, these types of animations have allowed policymakers at all levels of government to watch a video clip, rather than read a stack of intelligence reports filled with military jargon and technical data.

“Seeing really is believing when it comes to our job,” said Arthur Luke, a contractor from Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corp. “We explain important dangers using visual communications.”

Since opening their doors in July 2006, the five-person shop — a mix of civilians and contractors — has created more than 250 visualizations for customers throughout the Air Force and intelligence community.

“When an analyst requests a product, we must build off of information in the intelligence analytic report,” said team member Greg Sundra. “It’s the creativity of each individual in this office that builds off that foundation to communicate a critical message which makes our work so special.”

Most of the products have a security classification and cannot be seen by the general public, but that doesn’t stop the team from striving for perfection.

“I always think something can be improved in our work; it’s never good enough,” said team member Justin Weisbarth, a contractor from Ball Aerospace. “Each person on the team has particular skill sets and we use those capabilities to always give the customer greater than what they are asking for.”

The threat visualization team has more than 100 years of combined experience, with most of their backgrounds including productions related to freelance movies, 2-D graphics, logos and video special effects.

According to Steve Vanzant, the NASIC threat visualization team leader, he works with the best of the best and has people he can trust with anything.

“I have the jokester, the straight-man, the calm soul and the button-pusher,” Vanzant said. “The diversity of thought helps the creative process, plus all those characters make it enjoyable to come to work.”

The team’s next project includes working with the Air Force Institute of Technology to allow visualization specialists across the intelligence community to use and share 3-D models, textures and other animation elements.




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