What Equipment do you Need to Become a Legal Videographer

The following is a breakdown of the equipment I (Peter Ausburn) use to film a deposition:

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I use five ECM44B omnidirectional lavalier microphones by Sony. They are battery-powered only; i.e., do not accept phantom power. In my experience, shooting two to three depositions a week, I've been able to get about a year out of the one AA battery these mics individually use. The mics in a depo kit are the most important pieces of equipment, and the only ones that require regular maintenance.

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These mics use clips that, in my experience, break once or twice a year. I recommend getting some replacement clips in advance of their inevitable breakage.

                           

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I also use liquid electrical tape to maintain my mics. I apply it to my mics about every six months. During the application, I aim for points of tension; namely, where the cord meets the condenser head.          

               

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I connect my XLR cables and/or mics to an SCM268 Shure audio mixer. I only use the “mic level inputs” for my audio mixing. The aux level inputs seen in the above photo are primarily used for consumer level equipment; i.e., tape decks and CD players.

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I use an AG-HMC40 camcorder by Panasonic to film depositions. It records HD (AVCHD) video on 32-gigabyte SD cards. You can put about 12 hours of continuous HD video on one SD card. This camera is popular amongst legal videographers because it enables you to burn the time and date into the raw video and you are not subject to changing tapes.

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In prior video equipment setups, I have used a component-to-S-Video downconverter from SVIDEO to connect my camcorder to my Panasonic DMR-EZ28 DVD recorder. These DVDs were then sent to my client.  

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I now use a Black Magic mpeg4 converter that connects to the component out on my camcorder. This device converts an analog signal to the digital Mpeg4 format. I use these compressed video files as a backup. I import the AVCHD files that my camcorder produces into Final Cut and I then edit and author DVDs.

In my old setup, I would just use the Black Magic Video Recorder to monitor what my DVD recorder was recording. I now use the BMVR to both monitor my video and back it up.

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If needed, I use a Bescor LED dimmable 70-watt light to illuminate the deponent and/or exhibits.

                                                               

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To record depo audio to be given to the reporter after the job, I use an ICD-PX312 by Sony to make a .mp3 file.


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I also use Sennheiser MX 580 headphones for monitoring. In my experience larger over the ear headphones become uncomfortable after an eight-hour deposition.

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I put my camcorder on a 190XDB Manfrotto tripod with a 701HDV head.


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I also use two Impact 3218 stands for holding my Westcott illuminator background and for propping up lights

                                                               

The rest of the equipment, I'm going to show you is generic. I recommend getting the following from Amazon.com:

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I use gaffer's tape for mic placement under tables and for the taping down of power cables.

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If I'm in a room with a long conference room table, I will use XLR extension cables. I currently have three 25-foot XLR cables, one 10-foot, and four 3-foot. *Check out this video on the proper way to wrap XLR cables.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZ4ZKkJ_HxE

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If desired by the reporter, I will run a 25-foot mini audio cable out of the headphone jack on the camcorder to a splitter with volume control. The splitter connects to a 6-foot mini audio cable and/or to optional headphones.

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I also pack two surge protectors and two 15-foot extension cords.

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Some optional equipment to consider is some backup batteries and additional lights.

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I used to use a 2U Gator Case and a 1780 Transport Case by Pelican to haul everything. Many videographers use collapsible A/V carts which I do not recommend. Not being able to push or pull a cart upstairs can be a serious drawback. The pelican case was about a hundred pounds including my Gator case and the rest of my equipment and could be taken upstairs somewhat easily. It also did an excellent job of protecting everything from the elements.  

As time went on I realized that a hundred pounds was too much weight to roll around and that I could use a cloth tarp to protect my equipment from rain and the occasional Atlanta snow. I decided to strike the Pelican case and the Gator case for another solution.

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I now use a custom built case to carry my equipment.

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