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Old September 22nd, 2011, 06:26 PM   #1
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Video Deposition Question

Hello All,

My friend (who is a video deposition guy) took me to my first deposition today. He's been trying to see if I'd be interested in taking some of the jobs that he turns down.

I actually am interested, but after the shoot, I asked him if any of the software he uses and equipment he uses would be compatible with my iMac or a Mac Book Pro. That part he really didn't know. He did tell me that everything needed to be in or converted to mpeg 1 or 2.

He's still on windows XP.

My first question is: Is anyone here shooting depositions using Apple products?

I only have Apple products and really don't want to buy any PC stuff if I don't have to.

I have more questions, but I really need to know if I can go forward with the computers that I have.

Thanks very much,

Andy
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Old September 22nd, 2011, 07:23 PM   #2
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Firstly, if you were desperate to use a PC only program you can set up a partition for Windows on your hard drive and on start up choose to boot it or Mac.

Secondly nearly any NLE should offer an MPEG 1 or 2 output format. I've never used the Mac specific NLEs but I'd imagine they'd handle it.
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Old September 22nd, 2011, 07:47 PM   #3
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Don't you have to be accredited in some states now? Try a Google.

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Old September 22nd, 2011, 10:24 PM   #4
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Thanks Jace and Allan for your contributions.

Jace, I'm aware about the partition to add a Windows option for my iMac but specifically wanted to know if anyone out there was doing this sort of specific line of work based on Apple applications solely.

Good observation Allen, and yes I've done research on the accreditation in my home state of TX and there is no accreditation necessary.

Still looking for a videographer that does depositions using a Mac book Pro or iMac for there editing.

Thanks again,

Andy
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Old September 23rd, 2011, 07:38 AM   #5
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Did he tell you what software programs he's using?

That would really help in answering your tech questions.
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Old September 23rd, 2011, 11:54 AM   #6
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Certainly any of the Mac editing solutions offer the ability to export MPEG-1 and MPEG-2. Leaders in the biz are Apple's Final Cut Pro (though the jury is out on Final Cut X), Avid, and Adobe's Premiere Pro. If for some reason, the editing package you have does not do MPEG, then you can always get Sorenson Squeeze, which will convert pretty much anything to anything.

FWIW - depositions and MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 are platform agnostic. That is, they don't care whether you made them on a Mac or PC.

Apparently your friend is doing mostly depositions that will be synced to the transcripts. That's the reason it would need to be MPEG-1 or MPEG-2. Otherwise, if synch isn't needed, most depositions these days are recorded directly to DVD-R with good old VHS still rearing its ugly head occasionally.

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Old September 23rd, 2011, 02:26 PM   #7
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Thanks Bryan,

My wife and I are having dinner with them tonight and I'll start to get more info, like software etc.

Thanks Rob,

I do have Adobe Premiere Pro that came with the production premium package, (So far I've only used Photoshop) and it will export to MPEG-2 but not MPEG-1 I believe. I will look into Squeeze as you suggested. And yes my friend does have the need to synced to the transcript.

Great info!

Thanks,

Andy
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Old September 23rd, 2011, 09:38 PM   #8
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Premiere pro does Mpeg 1 and 2.
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Old September 24th, 2011, 04:17 PM   #9
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Re: Video Deposition Question

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Originally Posted by Jace Ross View Post
Premiere pro does Mpeg 1 and 2.
Actually, Jace the newest version CS5 doesn't. The earlier versions did but not the latest one.

Thanks,

Andy
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Old September 25th, 2011, 05:36 AM   #10
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Re: Video Deposition Question

My sincerest, I'm still on CS4 and didn't assume 5 would drop the feature. No plugins or anything to bring it back?
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Old September 26th, 2011, 07:48 AM   #11
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Andy, there have been several threads on depositions over the years with lawyers participating. Search them out and read up. Editing software should be the least of your concerns. In fact, ANY editing of the raw tape at all could get your deposition thrown out of court. All it would take would be for opposing counsel to question what the witness said that was edited out of the tape and you're toast. This is one where you absolutely MUST work with an attorney to determine the requirements in your jurisdiction and what you need to do to deliver them.
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Old September 27th, 2011, 07:55 PM   #12
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Your question is really not about the video format, or if that can be done on the Mac, but depending on exactly what you will need to do, you may have to record directly into a specific software (to add date/time stamp, etc), and if that's available for your computer platform.

Look around on Trial Software and Services to the Legal Discipline.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 01:46 PM   #13
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
Andy, there have been several threads on depositions over the years with lawyers participating. Search them out and read up. Editing software should be the least of your concerns. In fact, ANY editing of the raw tape at all could get your deposition thrown out of court. All it would take would be for opposing counsel to question what the witness said that was edited out of the tape and you're toast. This is one where you absolutely MUST work with an attorney to determine the requirements in your jurisdiction and what you need to do to deliver them.
To amplify: You only use editing software for ingesting the footage and moving it to a delivery format.

Steve is absolutely right that you absolutely must work with the attorneys on the requirements.

You never do any editing.

Except for the following exceptions.

First, depending on who is paying you to do what for the video (and also depending on the court rules in the state or district in which the case is handled) you usually edit out the "off-the-record" portions if you left the camera running when the lawyers went "off the record." Basically, your video should contain only what appears in the court reporter's written transcript.

Having said that, there are exceptions to the exceptions because "off the record" can be a touchy subject. In some locations, there are limitations on who can take things can go "off the record." Here, it technically should authorized by the lawyer who called the deposition or the one who is currently doing the questioning. Customs and local practice on this differ. My rule is to follow the court reporter's lead -- when he or she stops typing, I will stop the camera. I will edit out bits when I was unable to stop the video quickly enough.

Another exception to this exceptions is when you have been hired by one of the lawyers who wants to use the video to make a record of abusive conduct by opposing counsel, particularly when court rules prescribe limitations and requirements for conduct of counsel during depositions. This has happened in several jobs I have done. But, to re-emphasize what Steve said, you only do this when working with a lawyer involved in the deposition.

Actual editing is done in only two circumstances.

First, you prepare excerpts for a party who requests them (they should be paying you extra to make the exceprts.) For example, in my region, lawyers sometimes want to use excerpts of deposition testimony as part of package presented in support of a settlement demand or proposal.

Second, when the trial court makes rulings on the parts of the deposition that will be allowed at a trial. In this region, the Court uses the reporter's written transcript to make rulings and designate the parts that it will allow to be played to a jury. Your job is to produce an edited version of the deposition which contains only the portions that the Court will allow to be played. I know several lawyers who have tried to use the written transcript themselves while starting and stopping playback in Court. This is usually a mess and sometimes a disaster. Most of the local judges in my area now insist on having editing videos for play in cases with juries, at least in trials of civil matters.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 02:40 PM   #14
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Re: Video Deposition Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay West View Post
You usually edit out the "off-the-record" portions if you left the camera running when the lawyers went "off the record."
This should be a very rare circumstance only. A big part of shooting depositions is to stop the recording when the lawyers go off-record. It requires diligence and constant attention to the proceedings. If the camera is still running when lawyers go off-record, then you have made a mistake. There are rare instances when this isn't your fault, but it is always your responsibility.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay West View Post
Basically, your video should contain only what appears in the court reporter's written transcript.
Bingo. Jay has perfectly summed up the essence of deposition recording with this statement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay West View Post
Actual editing is done in only two circumstances. First, you prepare excerpts for a party who requests them... Second, when the trial court makes rulings on the parts of the deposition that will be allowed at a trial.
Again, Jay is spot on here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve House View Post
All it would take would be for opposing counsel to question what the witness said that was edited out of the tape and you're toast.
In my experience, opposing counsel is *always* present at the deposition and they have their own copy of the video. I have never shot a single depo where the opposing side was not present. Besides, the video matches the transcript (as previously pointed out). The vast majority of depositions never make it into a courtroom -- I'd say 95% of the cases for which I shot depositions were settled out of court.
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Old September 28th, 2011, 04:11 PM   #15
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Re: Video Deposition Question

"This should be a very rare circumstance only. A big part of shooting depositions is to stop the recording when the lawyers go off-record. It requires diligence and constant attention to the proceedings. If the camera is still running when lawyers go off-record, then you have made a mistake. There are rare instances when this isn't your fault, but it is always your responsibility."

This is a good point and I see that I need to clarify my earlier remark.

I did not mean to suggest it was okay to rely on post-production cutting as a fix for problems caused by one's staring off into space and losing track of what was going on in the deposition. THAT should be a very rare circumstance. Diligence is mandatory for this kind of work as Chris rightly emphasizes.

What I had meant to refer to and was not clear enough about was this: the unfortunate lawyerly tendency to speak at hyper-speed.

I'm talking about the lawyer who says "off the record" and, without dropping a beat, immediately continues the sentence with whatever off-the-record thing he or she wants to talk about. Inexperienced lawyers do this almost reflexively and they all seem to talk verrrrrrrry fast. An experienced deposition lawyer will (usually) pause for a couple of seconds before going to whatever off-the-record thing is happening. But even experienced lawyers can get caught up in the apparent drama of their cases. Actors call this stepping on lines.

These instances are far from rare in my experience (and I've been doing this stuff for 21 years now.) . Even when I know this kind of behavior is going to happen and I've got my thumb riding the camera's record button, there are times when I just can't stab the camera's record button fast enough to avoid getting a blip in the recording if not some of the fast talking that is supposed to be off the record. I simply keep a notebook with me with me and note the times when this happens so I can cut those blips out of the recording I deliver. Again, we are talking about meeting the mandate of providing a recording showing what is in the reporter's written transcript, no more and no less.

Sorry for not being clearer.
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