Setting the standards for videography: The National Court Reporters Association

The National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) was founded in 1899 and was originally named the National Shorthand Reporters Association as a reflection of the predominant form of court reporting in use at the time. Today, the NCRA represents court reporters in a wide range of career paths and provides guidance on best practices within the profession. One of the most important elements of modern court reporting practice is the recording of video depositions. The standards set forth by the NCRA are designed specifically to provide a framework for court reporting firms to ensure the most accurate transcriptions of all types of recordings.

Specifications for video depositions

The NCRA has established 62 separate standards regarding the video recording of depositions. Many of these standards deal with the technical specifications of the equipment to be used:

  • Zoom ratios must maintain a focal length ratio of at least 10:1.
  • Fluid-head tripods are required.
  • Video cameras must have a minimum horizontal resolution of 350 lines.
  • Manual volume adjustment controls are required.
  • At least four microphones are required to meet NCRA standards; of these, one must be directed at the deponent and two are reserved for the direct examiner and the cross examiner in the deposition.

NCRA standards also provide guidance on how depositions should be recorded by videographers:

  • Video depositions should be carried out in accordance with the expressed rules, orders, and stipulations of the court.
  • The style to be used in recording the deposition should be communicated to all parties prior to the start of videography.
  • Any pans or zooms should be performed in a smooth and methodical fashion.
  • All cell phones should be turned off prior to the start of the deposition.
  • Videographers should listen to the questioning and testimony through headphones and should ensure that they can be heard when making announcements verbally.
  • If given permission, recordings may be interrupted by the videographer to ensure that the oath has been administered, to correct any acoustical or technical problems, or to change recording media in cases where this is required.

Videographers should include the following spoken information at the start of the deposition session.

  • The full name of the deponent and the name of the party requesting the deposition
  • The time and date
  • The address at which the deposition took place
  • The case number and the court involved
  • The identity of all persons present, including the business addresses, and names of the court reporter and the videographer
  • Indexing information to include any stops and starts in recording, on-the-record and off-the-record content, and the run time of each deposition session

This information is critical to ensure that depositions are recorded properly and that all events are depicted accurately in regard to the videography process.

By studying and maintaining the best practices recommended by the NCRA, videographers can deliver the highest quality depositions to ensure accurate reporting and evidence in the legal arena.