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reliablevideography

Newby Legal Videograper

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I joined the AGCV precisely for this reason. . .to have a community of mentors at my disposal while learning and preparing to run my upstart company for legal videography. I have been involved in video and audio in a number of settings over the years, but all of that did not necessarily prepare me for legal videography. I could really use some input from the legal video veterans on a couple of things.

First, a little about where I am at right now. I have invested in my equipment and it is complete. I am using a Panasonic AG-AC30 camcorder, I use the Shure ECM-44b lav mics, with the AT 831b units as back-ups. I use a Shure FP-410 mixer and use the Atomos Ninja Flame as a backup for video. As another audio backup, I capture on the Zoom HN4. I use a very nice rack mounted battery backup for all the gear, so all the equipment is mounted in a rolling rack case that stands about 18 inches and has a handle and wheels for mobility.

I have gone through the online video training modules on the NCRA Website but have not done my written or practical exams. I did, however, obtain some very good information from their training. I will, however, be going through the AGCV certification because I do desire to have that credential and the training. I have only shadowed in one depo with a local litigation company who was generous enough to allow me in. I have another shadow tomorrow with another litigation firm as well. Both of these firms have been generous to offer me the ability to do depos with observation as well.

One question is more of a real-world question of you experienced people. What is the best setting on my camera as the source video quality do you suggest as being an across the board functional deliverable format? Of course, the litigation services I am working with have in-house production crews to handle the final deliverable, but as a freelancer who will be working in many small communities and smaller sized towns, what would be my best choice of final resolution quality from your experience. I will give the court reporter either an SD card of the audio or an audio feed from my Zoom recorder if she prefers, but if I have to edit for any reason in post and dispatch the final deliverable, what format will ensure the most seamless success for the attornies? Any comments or feedback would be awesome! Even comments or observations you might offer to me on topics I may not have addressed here. Thanks! -Craig

Edited by reliablevideography

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I am also new to the world of legal videography. Now I have been married to a court reporter for 27 years. I do have some exposure to the field. Something my wife has said to me about the instant hand over of an SD card for sound is cost of them. If they (court reporter)provides that one thing, many do not carry a spare. The other was she had a instant hand over from a newer videographer and the sound was choppy. It was not his recording but the backup he took it from. Claims his cable was bad. It then took a few days to get a clean copy because the video was sync'd.  So that could be an issue. I tell them an upload in MP3 will be ready within 24hrs or sooner if needed. Then I get an email to send it to. I also let them know that I will remove that from the drop box or google drive within 5 days. Unless its an overnite most are OK and seems that many do not even want a copy. Several that I sat in on the reporter didnt want a copy being they have many forms of sound recording themselves.  Also with small towns they seem to be more willing to use more modern equipment. The local courthouse has flat screen smart TVs. Where as the big city courthouse still has a DVD cart with a VHS player still on it. One of them is tube type TV and they roll it into the court room.  Most of the time the ordering person will tell you how they want it. I have a firm that wants the raw and then does final editing. They do that even with my friend who has over years years doing this. 

 

The only real advice I can give is to be ready to go at any time, and when your done with a recording make sure you put your stuff back ready for the next one. You never know when you may get a call to cover right after you finish. 

 

My first job was a call to my wife to cover a depo that started at 10 am, it was 9:55.  The job was not covered by another firm. The scheduler also said she was looking for a videographer. My wife asked do want me and my husband? It was a Yes. So now I have to get my suit on load my gear and then drive an hour to my first alone job. We were on the record by 11:30. So I had very little time to set up and do my testing. I didnt have to make my wife a MP3 but for practice I did.  I would practice setting up your equipment and tearing it down. Another tip is walk out of the room and have someone change something like unplug a mic, or move a gain control, or unplug something. You may use your camera for a wedding with a shotgun mic and need phantom power, while your depo setup requires it.  You can see where that can go. Not damaging but sometimes things get touched by accident while on a brake. Expect this more in a tight room.  Doing this will help you trouble shoot if something goes wrong. Laywers do not want to sit around while you go through a check list.  Be alert and professional, do not offer more than you can do. Right now I have a 3rd party doing my sync if needed.  I tell my friends I have to be professional and invisible at the same time.  

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On 8/22/2018 at 2:03 PM, reliablevideography said:

One question is more of a real-world question of you experienced people. What is the best setting on my camera as the source video quality do you suggest as being an across the board functional deliverable format? Of course, the litigation services I am working with have in-house production crews to handle the final deliverable, but as a freelancer who will be working in many small communities and smaller sized towns, what would be my best choice of final resolution quality from your experience. I will give the court reporter either an SD card of the audio or an audio feed from my Zoom recorder if she prefers, but if I have to edit for any reason in post and dispatch the final deliverable, what format will ensure the most seamless success for the attornies? Any comments or feedback would be awesome! Even comments or observations you might offer to me on topics I may not have addressed here. Thanks! -Craig

For your deliverable, it depends. My basic rule of thumb, shoot in the highest resolution available, but consider the final deliverable. I can share my workflow, but your experience may differ. Also, consider that I work in a large market, Southern California. I have been recording 1080i/60 (16:9) as this was the highest resolution supported by my camera. I would encode the video to 480p (4:3) and upload that to my client for syncing and final delivery. I just recently upgraded my camera and now shoot 1080p/60, again, encoding to 480p for delivery.

My client’s deliverable will be changing in the near future and they have asked for the “raw” footage. I will probably switch to 720p/60 or 720p/30 for recording and provide the mp4 backup for syncing and final delivery. My delivery vehicle is uploading to the cloud so switching from 1080p to 720p is primarily due to filesize.

I also do PiP depos which I record in 720p/60.

Rich Foster
CLVS | California Notary Public

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I almost follow Rich's rules.

I always use progressive video as my source video, particularly if I'm delivering a progressive format as the final deliverable. Interlaced is not as good of a source as progressive for deposition work.

If my camera does not record progressive video when stamping but outputs progressive video for external recorders (i.e. Sony cameras) I would use an external recorder set to accept progressive video as my source video and my camera video would be my backup.

I have not found using 4K for a SD deliverable is worth the effort. Most of the new cameras shoot 4K as well as HD. I would limit my "highest resolution available" to no larger than 1920x1080 if I was planning on delivering an SD final source. HD is a perfectly fine source for depositions -- I doubt I would record 4K for deposition work in normal situations (for 2018 and 2019 -- ask me again in a year).

720p30 is readily available on all HD cameras, either as an output or a captured file. Consider this the "minimum acceptable HD" setting that anyone with an HD camera can deliver, much like MPEG-1 352x240 was the minimum acceptable SD source in the past. Having 720p30 as your floor makes sure you can 1) find other providers to help you out and; 2) most computers can play back without issue.

I rarely record 1080 anything. I stick with 720p30 or 720p60 for most of my recordings for legal depositions.

For what it's worth.

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