Synchronizing Transcripts to Video

For this month’s blog, we’d like to examine the topic of synchronizing a deposition transcript to its corresponding video for use in ADR, Legal proceedings and in trials. You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with me and why should I sync a transcript to video? We’ll get to those questions in a bit, but first, let’s review a few technicalities beforehand – the transcript, the exhibits, the video, and the synchronization process as a whole.

Working With The Transcript & Exhibits
It all starts with the court reporter’s transcript as the true, definitive record of the proceedings. The transcript should be provided in very specific ASCII or text file format that looks like this. You will need transcript-syncing software in order to import, sync, and export various transcript sync file types.

When exhibits are admitted and marked as exhibits during the course of a deposition, what steps are you taking to ensure maximum quality and compatibility when they’re imaged? Exhibits should be scanned at a minimum of 300 DPI (dots per inch) to either .TIF or .PDF format. .TIF files can be easier to work with, as they can be opened by more than one program, whereas Adobe Acrobat Reader has taken over much of the market share and .PDF files can be viewed on Mac or PC with Adobe Acrobat Reader installed. Knowing this, trial presentation software such as Trial Director, Sanction and Visionary have taken steps to convert .PDF files to .TIF files. When exhibits are imported to your case data in the .PDF format, some trial presentation software now allows you to present and annotate in the native .PDF format.  Trial presentation programs can electronically “link” your exhibit files into your trial presentation video so that the video is playing in one region and the Exhibit is displayed alongside the video and transcript text, like this.  What better way to capture the attention of the judge and jury than to maintain their visual focus with demonstratives in a state-of-the-art trial presentation!

The third element in synchronization is the video portion.  As we have discussed, file formatting is everything in your electronic data. You have your transcript, your exhibits, and your videos, but you won’t get anywhere if the file formatting is incorrect. The synchronization process is a daunting task, but one that will be quick to point out any flaws in the transcript and video alike. In terms of the audio portion included in the video, coughing into the microphone, shuffling papers around, extended periods of silence, and people speaking simultaneously are all triggers that can and will affect the accuracy of the synchronization. On the other hand, if the video was encoded to an improper format or if segments of video are missing, this will also affect the outcome of your synch.  Once you have all relevant material loaded into your synchronization software, you’re ready to match up the video to the transcript, and have it all at your fingertips…

Stay tuned!
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