April 2010 • Vol. 30 No. 4 | An E-Publication of the Los Angeles County Bar Association

Videotaped Testimony Synchronized with Transcripts: A User-Friendly Tool for All Phases of Litigation

By Jeff Koller, general counsel and business development administrator, Hutchings Court Reporters, LLC, jeffk@hutchings.com, and Marnie Levy, certified legal video specialist, Sky Blue Video, marnie@skybluevideo.com.

Synchronizing video and transcript can be one of the most powerful tools when using videotaped depositions.

Simply put, “video-sync” links each line of a deposition transcript with the video deposition so that they play simultaneously. As you might imagine, video testimony and the written transcript scrolling side-by-side is a one-two punch of credibility.

In addition, video-sync software has multiple features that make it a convenient, economical, user-friendly method for organizing, sharing, and presenting testimony before and during trial, arbitration, or mediation.

Most court reporting companies offer video synchronization. Once the transcript is complete, and you have the video deposition (MPEG-1 is the preferred format), the synchronizing process can be completed quickly—typically within a few days or sooner if need be.

When you order video-sync, you will receive one or more CDs or DVDs, depending on the length of the proceeding. The discs play in your computer without having to purchase any additional software.

The video has standard media player features such as start/stop/pause/fast forward. The transcript portion of the synchronized proceeding has the same tools as an electronic transcript.

While reviewing the synchronized deposition, you can quickly create video clips for later playback and editing, and export your clips to PowerPoint with a few simple clicks. Through this technology, you are no longer reliant on an outside editor. This priceless tool saves endless hours of time searching, identifying, editing, and copying portions of relevant videotaped deposition testimony. It is easy and convenient, even while you are in trial, to find key portions of testimony to create new clips on-the-fly to play for the judge and jury.

Using synchronized video testimony provides several advantages:

  • You can import the video and transcript into presentation software such as PowerPoint, Live Note, Sanction, Summation, and Trial Director.
  • The native software enables you to perform word searches, which will take you from one point of the video and transcript to another, always keeping the two in sync.
  • You can use the copy-and-paste feature to isolate and save portions of the transcript and video, making video clips to save as a group (i.e., merge multiple clips into a single streaming clip), e-mail, or share with your trial preparation team—as easy as working with a common word processing program.
  • Clips can be organized, retrieved, merged, and edited at any time, even during trial. The days of using fast-forward to shuttle a video to a key piece of testimony are gone forever.
  • You can e-mail the clips or a link to those clips on a secure Web site, so members of your trial team or consultants can view a specific portion of the deposition. You maintain control of the clips and who is able to view them.
  • Exhibits can be hyperlinked in the synchronized transcript, so you can view the three relevant portions of the deposition—witness demeanor, testimony, and exhibits—simultaneously.

To learn more about video synchronization, ask your court reporter or videographer for a demonstration. Once you experience this technology and its ease of use, you will understand why it is quickly becoming the norm in trial presentation and case management for law firms of all sizes.

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