Reasons To Use Video Recording
Unavailability at the time of trial is perhaps the most commonly given reason for video recording a deposition. A witness may not be available to testify at a trial or settlement conference due to ill health, death, other commitments, change of heart, geographical hardship, or other reasons. Doctors often are not available due to the natural constraints of their jobs. Expert witnesses may present cost issues for a reappearance at trial.
Rather than read deposition testimony into the record at trial, video playback of testimony is an effective and engaging way to cover these eventualities. Playing back live testimony to a jury from a screen is thought to be much more effective than reading testimony from a transcript to a jury.
Impeachment: Visual representation of a witness testifying one way at a deposition but differently at trial is the most compelling way to highlight the questionable truthfulness of a witness. Since software tools allow you to edit segments of the deposition testimony, you can be prepared with clips of key testimony on your hard drive and ready to play back within seconds if a witness is not telling the same story as at a deposition.
Behavior: Some witnesses and/or counsel may tend to behave more appropriately if they are recorded. At times, the presence of video gear has been requested to help keep everyone behaving in an appropriate manner and for no other reason.
Demonstrative evidence: During recorded testimony, videography can often help with the details of any small, moving, or audible objects, machines, or processes. With skillful use of the camera to capture close-ups, pans, tilts, and zooms, a witness can point to pertinent sections while the camera follows along. In this way, video recording may help a witness give more effective, compelling testimony.
Settlement conferences: A video of particularly compelling testimony, or conflicting testimony, can make a very persuasive argument for an arbitrator or during negotiations at a settlement conference. It is one thing to declare you have a great witness, it is another to show opposing counsel how truly strong your witness is: body language, demeanor, confidence, etc.
Video presentations: As an audio/video aid, video is hard to beat for accident reconstructions, “Day-In-The-Life” presentations, video representations of how things work, animations of fluid flow, simulations and the like.
Jury impact: Juries are more likely to be attentive to video testimony, as compared to written or recited testimony. Video testimony shows the jury nuances not available in the written record, such as body language, tone of voice, hesitancy, etc.
Flexibility: Video recording gives you options to encode the recording into a variety of computer formats (mp1, mp2, mp4, wmv, avi, mov, etc.) as computer files that can be stored and shared more easily than paper records. Recordings can be edited, synchronized to a transcript, word searched, and used to create “highlight reels” of key parts of testimony to show to the judge, jury, or opposing counsel during negotiations.
The novelty factor: Video can be used to add variety and interest to long, complicated, or tedious stretches of testimony. Jurors who get to “watch TV,” even if unnecessary, may be more likely to pay attention and absorb what they are being shown, rather than listening to recitations, repetitions, renditions, and regurgitations of verbal testimony.
Most videographers charge by the hour. Rates can vary significantly from videographer to videographer and from location to location. Always request cost estimates in advance. There is no substitute for training and experience. Be sure to hire videographers from a reputable video or reporting firm that uses only experienced, thoroughly trained videographers.