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Old July 24th, 2009, 06:10 PM   #1
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Help on equipment selection.

Ive read over these forums for the past couple weeks for information and well all Ive done is confuse myself even more. I am going to be videoing some depostions for some attorney friends of mine and their firm. In talks with them and what they want, Ive got a few basic requirements.

First. The end video needs to show the date and time the video was recorded. Most videos will be place on DVD and given to them. They dont have a real need for tapes.

Second. Long duration recording. Ive dont one depo for them already on a cheap DVD camcorder, and having to pause the depo every 45-55 min for a tape change was rather annoying for both them and me. I would prefer and camera with a hard drive that way I can record for 8+ hours at a time.

Third. The camera has to have a mic input. I was planning on using a juicedLink box to add up to 4 mics and have the audio record straight to the camera. I would rather not try to sync audio and video after filming. I just dont have the experience for this right now.

I was looking at some JVC products including the HD40 and the Share Station DVD burner. The reason for this is long duration recording and it will burn the date and time on the DVD. Only problem is it will end up being a HD DVD and unplayable in a standard DVD.

I dont mind editing or transcoding video, the computer I will be using is decent but I am not sure it would handle AVCHD. I start to get really confused is file formats and the such.

I have a budget in the $3000 range for all equipment. This is why I was looking at the Consumer Hard drive camcorders.

Any help with camera and other equipment selection would be most appretiated.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 05:03 PM   #2
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Any suggestions at all? I know there has to be someway to acomplish this for the budget I have. The JVC HD40, records in both ACHVD and MPEG-2. It does have date and time but only on playback through the camera. What else would I need to convert either of these files to standad definition for regular DVD playback and have the date and time shown on screen.
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Old July 25th, 2009, 06:00 PM   #3
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Hi Chris,

Do a search on this subject, there are a number of us that have done, or are doing, Depositions. There is a wealth of info about it on here.

Harold
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Old July 25th, 2009, 06:14 PM   #4
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Thats just the thing, I have. All the searches I have done come up with results with equipment out of my budget. Prosumer cameras in the 2-3k range and all are DV. Yes I know I can add a hard drive to those cameras but those are in the $700 and up range. That takes up my budget right there. Im looking for a consumer camera in the 500-1000 range that already have a hard drive.
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Old July 26th, 2009, 04:24 PM   #5
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Hi Chris,

Also try searching for "Legal Videography".

I've not kept current on Cams over the last yr, since I got my HV30, so I don't know of any current low priced units with the Date/Time code Stamp ability.

You'll be looking for an SD Cam and 4X3 is enough. If you can't find a current Cam (SD or HD) with a Date/Time Code ability, then you'll have to go for an older used Cam with that capability.

I've used both Panasonic and Phillips Hard Drive Recorders to both back up, and do the primary extended recording. Makes the DVD creation easy. These are also getting harder to find.

You can also set up a Lap Top computer to use as a recording and a monitor unit, with the right software. Trick is, that you always want a back up recording unit of some kind, be it the Cam tapes, or a second HDD recording unit. These are one time events that must be caught the first time out.

You simply must have the proper minimum equipment to get the job done. Judges and attorneys don't accept messed up recorded Depositions. They have to be done correctly - per your local legal system's requirments. I was a Court Services Officer for 23 yrs, so I know.

Harold
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Old July 26th, 2009, 05:24 PM   #6
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You could get a hard drive or flash recorder for DV or HDV cameras. They cost about $1000 and will save you some time getting all that footage into the computer. Flash recorders will only do about two hours at this time without changing cards. A firestore or other hard drive recorder can go for hours if you get one with a big hard drive. Budget 13GB per hour so you need at least a 100GB hard drive. Couple this with an $800 quality consumer camera and the juicedlink with a couple of decent mics and you can stick to a $3000 budget.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 09:23 PM   #7
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Look at the Canon consumer flashcams. I have a HF100, now discontinued but it was about US$600 and has a mini phono mic input. The HF S family has more options but costs more. These are all HD (AVCHD) format. If you only need SD there are different options. A used 3CCD tape camera, laptop and Adobe On Location will be in your budget and you save the capture/copy time since you can author right on the laptop.

I have a couple of cheap JVC SD flashcams that capture in a DVD legal format. Authoring is dead easy with that. No transcoding necessary so you're delivering a copy of the completely unmodified source footage in two hour increments. The camera splits the footage so no stopping of recording is necessary.

Now's a time of technology in flux. Look at all the options, especially the new ones and match them with your requirements. You may find that there are more good options than you mmight have originally thought. Just move out of the box factory.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 11:42 PM   #8
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Chris,

For a recorder, just get a consumer DVD recorder. Run the output of your camera to the DVD recorder and you're done. 2 hours per DVD. Everybody needs a break at least every 2 hours anyway. You can run tapes in the camera as a backup, or have a separate hard drive recording if you want. The name of the game in legal work is redundancy. You can't have a piece of gear go bad and not have a backup. As others have said you need to step up your budget. You are talking about doing professional work - buy professional gear. You haven't even mentioned audio yet. I usually think of depositions as an audio job that also has to have decent video. You'll need probably 4 good lav mics, a shotgun and/or boundary/PZM, a mixer and cables. Many of us also record to cassette tape as well so we can give the court reporter a copy with our good audio. That's getting less common now with more reporters using mini recorders with memory sticks, but it's still something to think about. Many attorneys also prefer you use some sort of backdrop instead of just getting the bare wall behind the deponent as well. It's not quite as easy as just pointing a camera and hitting the big red button.

More info available from the National Court Reporters Association web site at:

Welcome to the National Court Reporters Association

They have training courses and can certify you. Certification is not necessary in many states, but it never hurts and their training is not bad, though a bit expensive.

Have fun!

Rob

Certified Legal Video Specialist
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