We asked Brian Ciccone, CLVS, and President and Founder of Pro-Systems, for a few tips for videographers. This is what he had to say:
All Videographers, whether new or experienced, need a solid working understanding of all of their equipment and need to be able to set it up perfectly with little thought regarding the process. Sometimes the reporter is in the room chatting it up with the videographer during set-up, or a client. This is why familiarity with equipment needs to be second nature.
Videographers should be prepared with a set of backup equipment: Cameras, microphones, cables, power cords at the least. When you start thinking “I’ve never had a piece of equipment fail me; why do I need to lug this around?” –that’s when you’ll need it.
Color-Code Your Bags.
Have a backup gear bag in the car at all times in case of emergency.
Have an “additional services” bag as well in case someone needs a service they didn’t order or you weren’t informed of upon scheduling so that you can react to any request at any time.
One factor in minimizing equipment failure is equipment maintenance. Keep your equipment clean and well-maintained at all times.
Keep equipment under warranty.
Often in today’s world, Videographers are asked to do more than just shoot down the table at a solitary object. Requests for Zoom, document cameras, monitors, and the ability to be able to take a video signal from the taking attorneys laptop and bring it into the video, are all more common than ever today. Being able to respond to the various service requests will get on the job requires investing in and being knowledgeable about state-of-the-art video equipment.
Being able to provide state-of-the-art video services, not just shoot a stationary object, means the Videographer becomes more valuable to both the reporting agency that hired you and the clients you are servicing.
Assistants, Paralegals, and the person from the reporting agency taking the request for video services often misinterpret what services were desired by the Noticing Attorney, and when the Noticing Attorney shows up and cannot get the service they wanted (but was not ordered) they become upset with both the Videographer and the reporting agency.
The professional Videographer is prepared and therefore can react to changes as is needed and is able to provide additional services as requested on site.
REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES FROM BRIAN
Below, I have given examples of real-life situations that have happened to me and how I responded to each. In every case, because I was prepared for the unexpected, I was able to react accordingly. The client was grateful that, in the end, they got exactly what they desired in the video.
I am all set up to do a traditional video deposition and I find out they want me to Zoom to one or more attorneys.
Because I bring extra laptops, I was able to set up a Zoom meeting and connect through my video camera and laptop. There was no delay in starting the deposition and the attorneys were happy they got exactly what they wanted.
A document camera was requested. I was all set up with my document camera, but when the attorney entered the room he said that is not what he wanted. He wanted a camera next to him to present the exhibits himself, and he wanted an external monitor in the room for all to see.
I said “No problem…but I will have to run to my car to get more cables.” I set up my mini document camera like an Elmo and ran that signal into my equipment so I had picture-in-picture. Then I ran an HDMI cable out to an external monitor that was already in the room. The deposition started on time, and the attorney was very thankful that he got exactly what he wanted. He also commented on how prepared I was, which allowed me to quickly shift gears and meet his requirements with ease.
In-Person Ordered; Zoom Wanted
The request was for an in-person deposition. The Court Reporter and I were all set up and waiting for the witness to arrive. The Noticing Attorney Zoomed in, and we were prepared for that. We then informed the attorney we were both set up and ready to go and just waiting for the witness to arrive. The attorney said he had only inquired about an in-person deposition and that the witness will be attending via Zoom as well.
I immediately pulled out my laptops and requested to set up a separate conference room so we would not get audio feedback from the Court Reporter’s setup. We did start a little late, but only by a few minutes. Despite a misunderstanding somewhere in the scheduling process, we were able to quickly pivot and meet the needs of the client without giving him any concerns that there would be a problem doing so.
My Favorite Example: Loss of Internet
I had an exceptionally large case, with every deposition having at least ten attorneys in the room, all ordering copies of the video. (We even went to Copenhagen to take some depositions!) They were fighting deadlines and for this one deposition the Taking Attorney had the flu and could not fly. I had been using my document camera for all these depositions and, before Zoom, I would stream to some attorneys via WebEx. They saw exactly what I was videoing with PIP, so they could see the exhibit and the witness at the same time.
The Taking Attorney took the deposition from her bedroom and connected via my WebEx broadcast. Everyone was thankful that they did not have to cancel the deposition and put them even more behind. This deposition lasted a solid 10 hours on the record. It was close to 6 P.M. and suddenly the internet went down at the law firm. We lost the Taking Attorney’s video feed but had her on a conference call. She insisted she could not go on without the video for her to see. It meant coming back the next day, which most of the attorneys had a conflict with.
Immediately I stood up and said, “IF you can give me 5 minutes, we can continue as is.” They all looked at me like I was crazy. I pulled out my Hot Spot and we were back on the record within 5 minutes. We finished the deposition on schedule, and at the end of the deposition I thought I was going to get a hug from every attorney in the room. Every one of them complimented me on how fast I reacted and solved the issue so quickly, knowing it saved them all time and money.
Bad Attorney Cable
The request was for the attorney to connect to my video switcher so I could video the PDF exhibits he presented on his iPad. In addition, I would run an HDMI cable to a monitor for everyone to see.
The attorney had brought his own cable for me to connect with, something that always scares me when it is not my own equipment. Of course, the attorney’s cable failed which meant no signal going to my set-up.
I said “No problem. I always carry with me the exact cable to connect an iPad or Laptop to my system.” Always be prepared with the right cables. There was no delay in starting the deposition, and the attorney was very thankful I was so prepared. He called it “so professional”.
More than once I’ve seen an unusual request for a video deposition where it was clear to me there was a miscommunication between the order-taker and the client. In these instances, I go right to the source to clarify.
I contact the attorney and/or their paralegal/assistant directly and find out exactly what they are looking to achieve in the deposition. The client is always appreciative of my being so thorough with the details.
Lastly, Videographers charge a fair and reasonable price for their services. I believe it is the Videographer’s responsibility to have a high-speed internet connection for transferring files to a repository. They should also invest in their own cloud-based repository in case the service provider’s fails for some reason. Videographers should have their own Zoom account as well (not the free 40-minute-minimum account). These are necessary tools for every Videographer to compete in today’s market.