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Old February 24th, 2004, 08:04 PM   #1
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Shooting in court - Admissable as evidence

I've been offered a job by the local county attorneys office to shoot a prelim hearing. Apparently they are concerned the witnesses may not be available for trial and want the testimony to be more than just a stenos notes if they need it for the actual trial.

Anyway... State Statute says the following: "It is contemplated that, in order to maximize accuracy of audiotaped and videotaped records, the recording equipment used by the court shall include a three-head monitorable, four-track four channel recording system" (Legalez at it's best)

Does anyone know of any video gear that would meet this definition? I planned on tapping into the existing court audio system and feeding one of my two channels and using the shotgun on the cam as backup. Only two channels. Of course I'll be monitoring with headphones so I meet that requirement. I could add an outboard VHS VCR with three heads that would provide two additional channels (although it would be the same stuff as the other two). Anyone have any ideas? TIA
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Old February 24th, 2004, 08:27 PM   #2
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Well, an XL1(S) can be set to a four channel 12 bit mode... I don't know how many heads it records with...

"four track four channel"--redundant?
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Old February 24th, 2004, 09:31 PM   #3
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VHS video is only recorded with two heads, essentially one for each field of video. The extra heads quoted in literature are erase heads, Hi-fi audio heads, and "trick" heads for clear pause and other special effects in playback.
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Old February 24th, 2004, 10:21 PM   #4
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Check out this link for some guidance.

Rob,

First of all, what you quoted sounds a bit archaic. It was probably written by someone who did some research but has no technical or working knowledge of video.

Unfortunatley, since it is written, you will most probably have to abide by their specs until someone decides to challenge and possibly change the requirements.

Take a look at Paul Tauger's post. He is right on the money with regards to shooting depos.

http://www.dvinfo.net/conf/showthrea...&threadid=5527

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Old February 24th, 2004, 10:32 PM   #5
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Rick,

Agreed about the quote, sounds like whom ever wrote it was talking mostly about audio gear, not video. To try and define both audio and video requirments in the same sentence shows how little they probably knew about the technology.

I had read Pauls post before (He's a GREAT guy to have contributing). Re-reading has reminded me of a few things I'll want to do (with respect to redundancy).

Thanks
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Old February 25th, 2004, 01:53 PM   #6
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God that's a bizarre statute. My suggestion would be to let the prosecutor worry about whether his evidence dep is admissible. If the prosecutor is asking YOU how to interpret that statute then he's in trouble. :) That statute clearly is not contemplating digital video. It says "it is contemplated" meaning it might not be mandatory. I'd have to see the whole statute to know for sure though.

In general, as long as the video is not in any way prejudicial (for example, you can't add halos and stuff in post :) ), and it clearly depicts the witness visually and aurally, and it clearly depicts the questioning attorney aurally, that's all that should be necessary. I think what they don't want is something that's all fuzzy and grainy with crackling audio and dropouts. But if the statute specifically requires something, outdated though it might be, you might be stuck unless all the parties agree to wavie that silly requirement.
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Old February 25th, 2004, 02:38 PM   #7
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Might have to rent a Nagra for the audio... just a thought.
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Old February 25th, 2004, 02:55 PM   #8
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The problem with renting the Nagra is that you would then have to add another step to the whole adulterated, manipulated evidence, chain of custody, having to explain factor.

The K.I.S.S theory is probably the most important one to follow in this case. Remember that you are basically dealing with bureaucrats and not technicians. The less you have to do with any evidence the better off you are.

Also remember that attorneys love to confuse juries with regards to the opposition's evidence. The last thing you want to do is have to go in there and explain the scientific aspects of what you did.

Talk to the County Attorney, he may be able to put this whole thing to rest without your having to jump through hoops to get it done.

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Old February 25th, 2004, 05:07 PM   #9
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Having to rent a Nagra to do an evidence deposition would be major silly. :) If the prosecutor can't get the defense to stipulate to the camera being acceptable then something's really wrong there.
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Old February 25th, 2004, 05:14 PM   #10
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I'm trying to work with the County Attorney on this but he seems reluctant to challange either the definition or the defense. May print this thread and present it as "Evidence" to him that what is defined is not practical. Appreciate all of your input.
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