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Old February 21st, 2013, 04:04 PM   #1
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Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Hello -

I realize there are numerous threads regarding the Legal Video Deposition topic, so forgive me please if this seems redundant.

For those of you that are currently doing or have done LVD's, would these cams suffice:

- Panasonic AG-AC90
- Sony NX30U

...or maybe some other models?
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Old February 21st, 2013, 06:06 PM   #2
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Yes, but be prepared to employ some lights and make sure you cover the delivery aspects. Some clients require the original files from the camera,
to ensure there's been no editing.

Don't use the camera mic, get mics as close as you can to the persons of interest. Always monitor with headphones,
they usually don't speak up or even clearly. Run a Google on 'videoing depositions'

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Old February 22nd, 2013, 10:43 AM   #3
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

The biggest thing is make sure the camera burns in the date/time stamp. I found this a tricky thing to research, & aside from reading up that someone else uses it, I didn't have much luck knowing for a fact. In general, Sonys & Panasonics tend to, Canons did not.

They both have XLR inputs, which you'll need. You'll need to purchase at least 4 wired mics, and a mixer with XLR output to the camera. Also, you'll need a DVD recorder, which you firewire out from the camera. Pretty easy, and a grey backdrop. Buy a cheap collapesable one, they're easy to carry around along with the 4-5 other bags & cases you'll have. I've never needed to use lights, I wouldn't bother. Definitely test it all out & work out the tweaks (line/mic, DVD input, mic phantom power) and practice the setup & breakdown a couple times in your place before going out in the field.

The only thing I question is if you work with any court reporting firms, I've found some ask for the Tape, whereas some ask for the DVD. So shooting to memory card might not always be a plus, but then again buying a tape camera today vs 4 years ago when I upgraded (Sony Z5U, MiniDV) seems less wise. However maybe they are able to workaround using the DVD or memory file, just "prefer" tapes. Probably DVD, I doubt any places want you to Dropbox or file transfer the dep.

Good luck, it's definitely a cost cutting market where you can feel taken for granted, and the % of cancelations will amaze you. Let me know if you have any questions.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 01:20 PM   #4
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Andrew,

I have researched both of those cameras and neither one is outputting date & time on the video. If you want to author your DVDs using an NLE (post production), then any camera will work, as AVCHD has date & time info as metadata - but you won't be able to burn a DVD on location, real time.

I've been through this same dilemma just a couple of months ago...
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 03:10 PM   #5
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

If that's the case screw it and look for something that does. I know it sound like "No problem, I'll just import them to my PC, then burn a DVD" is ok... But try doing this for a 5 hour deposition, and getting them to a FedEx/UPS shipping facility or dropbox. And you have to be at a 9am dep the next morning.

I've spent nights doing this, my DVD burner burns a coaster, or I didn't have enough space/time to set up the DVD recorder (small Dr's office), so I shot only to tape. It's a pain. Most depos are short, I've found they average about 3 hours, actually they're either an hour & half, or 4 hours. Not much in between, with some 6+, haven't had many of them though when they happen it's nice. Anyway, I'd recommend something that burns date/time right away, but suit yourself. It's really nice to walk away & know everythings done. Although you already have to go home, label the tapes/DVD's, print up an invoice, drop it off at a shipping location etc... There's enough to do after the fact already, don't make any more of it if you can help it.
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 01:56 AM   #6
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

You all are a great resource and wealth of information!!

Many thanks to ALL of you for your first hand insights.

- Time / Date Stamp - Yes, that is a DEFINITE for this line of work. Didn't know those cams could not do this. Funny, I have an old Sony TRV99 that does it; but I guess the manufacturers decided it wasn't feasible to have that function on these lower priced cams anymore.

- Tapes and DVD's?! Wow, I didn't know people still wanted those formats!! Those are so .... yesterday!! I thought the legal profession would accept SD cards, USB Flash Drives.

- Original footage - Do they want the "original" recording? So I'd have to keep the "copy" for myself?

- Mixer - Definitely a given considering more than two mics will be utilized.

So for the cameras that have the "Date / Time" burn in ability, any suggestions? My research so far has led me to the Panny 160a.
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 10:18 AM   #7
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Don't worry too much about quality. HD is not needed & probably won't be for a very long time... Courtrooms tend to have older equipment & it's doubtful many US Courts will upgrade to HDTV's & Blu Ray any time soon. Although if you plan on using this camera for your own recreation (weddings, hobby etc), you should get something as good as you need or want for that. Otherwise, really just find something reliable that works.

You DEFINITELY will need to keep a backup, AnD have a shooting method to two formats. Just in case something goes wrong. Imagine your SD card fails, or you erase it by mistake or misplace it. DVD is a good backup, and alot of people prefer it so you probably wanna look down that road. Think about this, if you have the video on USB or SD card, how will you get it to the lawfirm/court reporting firm? Mail it?? Who's paying for the card/USB, you?? Do you expect them to mail it back to you? And even though there's way of probably securing sending them over the internet, most people you deal with wouldn't trust it. For privacy/security concerns. These things are pretty secure & confidential. Plus, most just arent' set up for it, so don't plan on being the first high tech videographer able to Dropbox the file that evening, and expect them to change their format. You'll likely be responded to with "That's ok, just send us the DVD" no matter how much sense in the world your way sounds. Sometimes you just go with the flow.

My honest opinion, is that the field will likely goto virtual streaming in several years. Alot of times lawyers fly in from out of state, building up high expense fees. Already I've had only a couple where while I videotaped the dep, an attorney was questioning via Skype type technology, where he can view the deponent from the laptops webcam. Others are often on only via conference call (usually where the case or deponent doesn't warrant spending alot of time/travel). My guess is in a matter of years it will be alot of virtual videoconferencing with it being recorded virtually as well. Just my guess, but on the other hand that could open up a new position right there, somehow.

Just something to keep in mind. I don't think there's a long term market for professional HD videocameras in the market, when the ability of a laptop webcam may soon suffice. Just my $.02
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Old February 26th, 2013, 01:07 PM   #8
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas View Post
Andrew,

I have researched both of those cameras and neither one is outputting date & time on the video. If you want to author your DVDs using an NLE (post production), then any camera will work, as AVCHD has date & time info as metadata - but you won't be able to burn a DVD on location, real time.

I've been through this same dilemma just a couple of months ago...
Ervin -

Just curious, what cams did find that could "burn" in the Time / Date info.?

Also, doesn't the client (attorney / lawyer) want the footage after the deposition is done?
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Old February 26th, 2013, 01:29 PM   #9
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Barnett View Post
....You DEFINITELY will need to keep a backup, AnD have a shooting method to two formats. Just in case something goes wrong. Imagine your SD card fails, or you erase it by mistake or misplace it. DVD is a good backup, ....
So while recording (in camera), would I be able to simultaneously record to a (external of course) DVD recorder?
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Old February 26th, 2013, 08:50 PM   #10
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Clark View Post
So while recording (in camera), would I be able to simultaneously record to a (external of course) DVD recorder?
Yes, you can use audio/video outputs to record to a backup device, or even make that your primary recorder and use the internal SD card as backup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Clark View Post
Ervin - Just curious, what cams did find that could "burn" in the Time / Date info.? Also, doesn't the client (attorney / lawyer) want the footage after the deposition is done?
Sadly all manufacturers left this field, only Panasonic has current models that do date/time code overlay. Some older Sony models still available also fit the bill.

Here's a list from another fora, one specialized in legal video work:

Panasonic AG-HMC80 - SD/HD to SDHC card, tapeless capture, SD out via Firewire
Panasonic AG-HMC150 - HD only to SDHC card, tapeless capture, SD out via HDMI selection
Panasonic AG-AC130 - SD/HD to SDXC/SDHC cards, tapeless capture, SD out via Firewire, HDMI Out
Panasonic AG-AC160 - SD/HD to SDXC/SDHC cards, tapeless capture, SD out via Firewire, HDMI Out, HD-SDI Out
Panasonic AG-HPX170 - SD/HD to P2 card, tapeless capture, SD out via Firewire, HDMI Out, HD-SDI Out
Panasonic AG-HPX250 - SD/HD to P2 cards, tapeless capture, SD out via Firewire, HDMI Out, HD-SDI Out

Sony HVR-Z5U - SD/HD out to MiniDV tape / tapeless capture, SD out via Firewire, HDMI out, Interchangeable Lens
Sony HVR-Z7U - SD/HD out to MiniDV tape / tapeless capture, SD out via Firewire, HDMI out, Interchangeable Lens
Sony HXR NX5U - SD/HD to SDHC card / tapeless capture, HDMI out, SD capture

To your other question, it is very rare that you need to deliver your video at the end of the deposition.
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Old February 27th, 2013, 11:39 AM   #11
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Thanks for your reply Ervin; much appreciate "The List"!!

I'll research these and see if any would fit the bill for my needs.

Again, thank you!!
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Old February 28th, 2013, 10:09 PM   #12
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

It also depends on what else you may want to do with your camera. If you want a camera strictly for legal video, I would advise to stick with a good ole' standard definition cam - professional or semi-pro. Look for a large sensor so you can shoot in low light - no one likes videographer's bright lights. You may read about how good HD cameras are for legal video and how HD is coming to the legal field... Our video goes into applications not yet ready for HD, so it'll be a while before the whole industry changes to HD...
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Old March 1st, 2013, 01:43 AM   #13
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ervin Farkas View Post
It also depends on what else you may want to do with your camera. If you want a camera strictly for legal video, I would advise to stick with a good ole' standard definition cam - professional or semi-pro. Look for a large sensor so you can shoot in low light - no one likes videographer's bright lights. You may read about how good HD cameras are for legal video and how HD is coming to the legal field... Our video goes into applications not yet ready for HD, so it'll be a while before the whole industry changes to HD...
Ervin -

Do you think a Canon XL1 (with the XLR adapter of course) would work? Also, do you know if that cam has the ability to "burn" in the Time / Date on the tape?

Also, I take it that it is mandatory to have the Time / Date on the recording .... is that correct?
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Old March 1st, 2013, 04:32 AM   #14
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Date/Time is pretty much mandatory. I had one time where I was asked to NOT shoot with it. I emailed them back just to confirm.

Typically, Canon's might burn date/time, but the time tends to be only Hours & Minutes, not seconds. Sounds petty, but sometimes the video gets synched up to the transcript with exhibits, onjections etc, and it makes it easier on others to also have the seconds in place. My guess is its viable, but I would sway against it tbh. You might get a callback asking why there's no seconds, or, you might get onto the back of their list being known as "The no seconds guy".

As best you can I'd try to stick to Ervins list. I think some JVCs burn as well too. I use a Z5U, and burn to DVD. The Z5U offers an adaptor to also allow to shoot to CF card, though it's about $700 so I haven't bought it yet.
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Old March 1st, 2013, 09:40 AM   #15
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Re: Legal Deposition Camera Recommendations

Andrew,

I can't give you an informed opinion on the XL1 because I don't know the camera.
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