WORKING TOGETHER: How’s your audio?

By Mindy Sindiong

Part of a CLVS’s training is to provide great video and audio for our clients. However, we have two clients: the attorney(s) and the court reporter. Yes, I said court reporter. Part of our job is to offer the court reporter some form of audio, whether it be a live feed from our audio mixer or a digital computer file recorded onto an SD card. The better audio we provide, the more court reporters will want and request to work with a CLVS. I’ll get more into the relationship between a CLVS videographer and a court reporter in a moment. First, I want to discuss the importance of the audio.

The CLVS program teaches a CLVS the audio chain, meaning audio should come from wired microphones to the mixer, from the mixer to the video recording devices, and, from there, into a monitoring device, otherwise known as headphones. Unfortunately, many videographers seem to forget the importance of audio in video. We are sometimes swayed by the technical specs of that new camera that just came out. We want the video aspect of it to look great on that new 4K video monitor. Can we see every line on someone’s face? And, in the process, audio sometimes falls to the wayside. This is a shame because, in reality, the audio is of utmost importance, especially in video depositions. The testimony is the deposition. Try an experiment. Turn on the TV with the sound turned down and watch for a few minutes. Turn the sound up and turn your eyes away from the TV and just listen. In most cases, you will get a better understanding of what is happening by listening rather than watching. Now, mind you, I am not disregarding the importance of the video portion of a recorded deposition. Studies have shown that much of how we communicate is through body language, but that would be a different article.

A good audio recording will also capture the nuances of the spoken word. Is the voice changing in pitch? Is the speech speeding up or slowing down? How long was that pause before the answer? Did that question seem to come out right? These telltale signs are all an important part of communication. If the video-recorded deposition has audio that has a lot of distracting noise, noise that can come from a bad connection, poor quality microphones, an audio mixer that introduces a bad hum sound, and so on, then the spoken voice starts losing its relevance to the listener. That is why the CLVS training stresses the importance of setting up, monitoring, and troubleshooting your audio chain.

Back to the relationship with the court reporter. As I said before, we also teach a CLVS to offer the court reporter some sort of way to monitor the audio, whether it be a live feed or a recording. Court reporters should also be prepared for working with a CLVS and may need to know how to make some audio adjustments on their end and be able turn up or down the input levels on their laptops. Being prepared to make these minor adjustments has huge payoffs in the quality of the audio for scoping and proofing later.

Being able to offer a high-quality live feed to the reporter can have other benefits. I can’t tell you how many times we have done depositions during which one of the participants was extremely soft spoken. Having a microphone on the witness and being able to boost that audio signal through the mixer can make all the difference in the world. The court reporter will be very thankful to be able to hear that witness loud and clear using a headset. I’ve always felt that if you take care of the court reporter, he or she will take care of you. In this business, I believe the court reporter is my most valued partner and friend.

Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, of Lawrenceberg, Ind., is a member of NCRA’s Certified Legal Video Specialist Council. She can be reached at Mindy@DeBeneEsseMedia.com.

 

New Jersey Supreme Court issues rule to protect court reporter’s audio file

The Certified Court Reporters Association – New Jersey (CCRA-NJ) announced that the New Jersey Supreme Court Rules Committee created a new court rule to protect the reporter’s audio file.

Although New Jersey already had a rule in place that affirmed a transcript taken by a New Jersey Certified Court Reporter as the official record, the new rule goes further in protecting the court reporter’s audio file as a “work product.” This also means that litigants and their attorneys may not demand or request an audio file without obtaining a court order.

“By October 2013, I’d heard enough of reporter’s stories to make the announcement that I was going to petition the NJ Supreme Court Civil Practice Committee to create a rule to protect the reporter’s audio file as their work product, and not be available to litigants or their attorneys without a court order to show cause,” Rick Paone, the state association’s legislative chairman, said about how he decided to take up the issue. “The issue hit home several years ago when a litigant accused my reporter of leaving something out. His attorney told me the client was a troubled person and knew the supposed testimony had never occurred but asked that we furnish it to satisfy his client. I refused to have the reporter turn it over, and the litigant fired his attorney and filed charges against my reporter with the State Board for ‘fraud and deception.’ The matter was investigated and dismissed, but it became of paramount importance to get language in place to protect reporters from litigants and their counsel attempting to use their work product audio against them.”

Paone also emphasized that it was a long process, but one well worth the time. In addition to spending months researching the issue, he worked with the attorney for CCRA-NJ to draft a petition to the Civil Practice Committee. It took a year until the rule received a recommendation from the committee, at which time it was sent to the New Jersey Supreme Court for public comment. The rule was put into effect Sept. 1.

The text of the new rule is available courtesy of the Certified Court Reporters Association – New Jersey.