Court Reporters and Legal Videographers – Timestamping

Why would a court reporter synchronize his/her computer with the videographer before a deposition begins and produce an electronic file with timestamps?   From time to time my court reporting firm contracts with court reporters from different geographical areas, and the reporters are nonplussed why we require a timestamped ascii for all videotaped depositions.  Some reporters tell us they don’t know how to produce timestamps or their CAT software doesn’t do timestamps.  I also hear that once a transcript is scoped, it is too late to add timestamps.  I can’t imagine any modern-day CAT (computer-aided transcript) software not having a timestamp function.  I know with Eclipse a reporter can even synchronize the transcript with the video time post deposition.  It’s not as efficient and takes some extra time, but it can be done.  I am sure there is the same functionality with other CAT systems.

As a child I talked a lot and I would ask hundreds of questions about why things were they were and why I had to do things certain ways.  Sometimes my Mom would simply answer, “Why?  Because I told you to,” and that was that.  This post is to let court reporters know why our firm wants to archive the timestamped transcripts.

Even with the advent of voice-activated video synchronization, the timestamp can be an important tool for paralegals, attorneys, and trial prep teams:

  1. If a litigation team does not want to go to the expense of synchronizing a transcript with video, they still have the ability to find blocks of testimony in the transcript and create clips for settlement or trial purposes.
  2. If an attorney thinks someone is taking too long to answer questions, they can see the time between Qs and As.  It is rare that we get a request for a timestamped transcript because of taking too long, but I would say it happens on average about once a year. 

To do video sync in the old days, the video technician needed the timestamps to manually sync the transcript to the video.  Court reporters will argue timestamps are no longer necessary.  I would argue, yes, they are.  If my client wants a timestamped transcript, they are going to get it.

There are probably more reasons why eporting firms send out a timestamped transcript.  I would love to hear any comments. 

I have had reporters ask me how to sync time with a videographer.  It is super easy.  What I do is ask the videographer before a deposition, “What time would you like it to be?”  He/she answers, “10:42:35,” giving me about 10 seconds to change the time in my computer and be ready for the countdown, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1, sync,” and I hit apply. 

My advice is for any videotaped deposition a court reporter reports, take the initiative and sync time with the videographer.  It may be your best client that wants this service someday, and you will be ready.

Rosalie@kramm.com

@rosaliekramm (Twitter)

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