Legal Videography

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    • #43272

      I hear talk about a past article on doing Legal depositions and other legal videography work. Trouble is, I’m having trouble getting an answer to this question. If one was to venture into this aspect of the video world, what equipment would you need to make a legal video? I’ve been to the AGCV website but I can’t seem to find a list of equipment.

    • #181389

      Camera, mic, tripod & light. Pretty much ANY combination of audio/visual acquisition tools will do the job, and be accepted if you develop good resources and establish relationships built on trust and professional quality. I know of no existing list of specific brands or equipment you MUST have in order to pursue this area.

    • #181390

      Now, you mention “Mic”, I have a Canon XL2 digital camcorder with the mic that came with the camera. Is it safe to assume that that mic is not acceptable for this type of work? I’ve looked at many different examples of Deposition videos and see a lot of them wearing Lavalier mics. I’m assuming that you need a few of them with a small mixer to plug the mics into the camera for recording.

      I’ve also seen people recording directly to a computer harddrive on the spot. Do you need such a thing, or can you record to tape and them dub to DVD later?

    • #181391

      It has been a LONG time since I’ve pursued or produced legal deposition video, though I still occasionally get calls for putting together “day in the life” videos for the infrequent attorney seeking to reflect how the client is, or is not, getting through life due to some situation and a pending lawsuit.

      When I did do them there could be NO editing and the footage had to be day/date stamped, plus a vocal announcement at the beginning regarding time, date, place, case (or whatever) number, parties present, representing whom, and myself as the recording videographer. What followed, in my experience was either feed from a PZM boundary or conference mic, no mixer, feeding directly into my camera’s L/R audio inputs.

      In my early “tape” days I handed over the tape to the hiring party, and later copies using a three-deck system I brought along, feeding via a DA (distribution amp) directly into each deck. I’ve never had to mic-and-mix using multiple lavs.

      I would suspect that the current demand would be “on-site” direct-to-DVD recorder copies and the master. Someone with more up-to-date experience and knowledge will have to pipe in regarding that.

    • #181392

      fjclaus, actually there isan equipment list on the AGCV site. I’m not sure whether you’re still doing research but here is the link:

      Good Luck!

    • #181393

      Check with your local court reporters and companies that provide local deposition services. While there are no specific requirements for equipment, here in the Northwest attorneys expect two-hour tapes and get really annoyed if you have to interrupt the deposition to change 60 or 80 minute tapes. This tends to rule out cameras like the Sony DSR PD150. Some shooters are still using SVHS cameras to accommodate these requirements; others use cameras like the old Sony DSR 200A to shoot over two hours in DVCAM.

      And Earl’s recollection is correct: you’ll need to shoot with a camera that puts date and time visibly on the tape.

      You may also find that there is a demand for DVDs to be delivered at the conclusion of the deposition, necessitating a pass-through from the camera to a DVD recorder that can be stopped and started every time the attorneys go “off the record.” And here in the Northwest you’ll need to retain the camera tapes for a month.

      You’ll also need to mic at least four people: two attorneys, the person being deposed, and the camera operator. So you’ll need a mic mixer as well as the mics. You might be able to get by with a PZM mic on the conference room table or desk, but the audio quality will be pretty poor, even if you spend a lot for the mic. With the PZM you also will pick up every paper rustle and pencil tap, again lowering the audio quality. Three to four lapel mics and a mic for the camera operator are a must.

      The court reporters are the folks that really know the ins and outs of how depositions work locally; we’ve found them to be our best friend in the deposition business.

    • #215695

      Hello FJCLAUSE: I started doing depositions in 1995. To date, I have done well over three thousand. These days, I do five a week and turn away at least another five. Tips and Trix: You must know your equipment inside and out. Your camera must produce a time/date stamp at the time of recording. It must have XLR inputs. One of the contributors suggested you should record two hours at a stretch. My experience is that advice will gain you no favor with your court reporter. While you are sitting behind the camera watching your viewfinder and sipping cold, bottled water, the reporter is typing 220 words or more per minute. I record for an hour at a time. Your choice. A PZM mic is useless. It will pickup air conditioners, keyboard clicks, papers rustling, soda cans opening, yada yada. And wait until someone sets a box of file folders on top of it. Save your money. You will need at least five lav mics with twenty-five foot XLR cables. One mic for witness. One for questioning attorney, one for opposing counsel, one for camera operator, and one to place on a table stand several feet away from the witness to pick up other attorneys, either present or on speakerphone. Smart vid operators use different colored cables and have a couple back-up mics and cables. An audio mixer with five XLR inputs is a must have. A mixer with no individual mic equalization capability is not advised. I run an analog composite line from my camera, a DVX-100A, to a stand alone DVD recorder and create a DVD along with my (drum roll) Mini-DV tape and my digital audio file for the reporter. I suppose you could use an S-VHS camera but finding new tapes would be a challenge.
      In all the depositions I have recorded, no attorney has expected me to hand them a DVD or a tape at the conclusion of the depo. It is unlikely you will have capability to properly label your disc AND most attorneys are not carrying a checkbook to pay you at the time of the shoot. Accounting procedures must be completed BEFORE release of your product. Additionally, you are quite likely to sell a video-sync of your product and you can not do that without an MPEG 1 of the deposition, which you will record after the shoot. You will need a collapsible background screen to place behind your witness. You will need excellent quality headphones to monitor EVERY SECOND of the deposition. You should have an output line for your court reporter to plug their headphones. You should have a digital audio recorder to provide the reporter an audio file at the conclusion. Having a small camera monitor to place in front of you will help to eliminate eye strain squinting into the on-board camera monitor for seven hours. You will need two-inch wide tape to secure all cables under the table. A money-saving tip: Gaff tape is expensive. I use Gorilla Tape. Less than half the price and as good or better. Also, part of your equipment is your wardrobe. There are zillions of things you should know and be prepared for before launching your new career. Investigate learning and working for an already established video firm. It’s a great business and I LOVE it.

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