Safety first in prep and conducting exams

CLVS Council members Robert Butcher, Tim Janes, David Jenkins, Mindy Sindiong,
and Andrea Kreutz

In preparation for the Fall CLVS Production Exam, NCRA staff took great measures to ensure the safety and health of everyone attending were at the forefront of planning. Following state COVID guidance, all staff, CLVS Council members, and attendees were required to wear face coverings, practice social distancing, and adhere to designated room occupancy loads. In addition, all in attendance were required to sign a personal health self-assessment before entering the NCRA offices. The assessments required attendees to confirm that they had been fever-free for more than 48 hours prior to entering the NCRA offices, that they possessed a face covering, that they washed and or sanitized their hands upon arrival, they were not living or caring for a COVID patient, and they were not sick.

Other safety precautions included mandating that candidates for the exam arrive no earlier than their assigned time, sign a COVID-19 disclosure regarding testing requirements, have their temperatures checked upon check-in, and bring their own headsets. NCRA provided everyone in attendance with latex free gloves.

Thanks to the safety steps taken by NCRA staff, CLVS Council members who attended said they were very comfortable administering the hands-on workshop held prior to the exam as well as administering the exam itself.

“I was very comfortable. Masks were required. We wiped down all tables, chairs, and equipment between each testing candidate. Hand sanitizer was readily available and used often. I never felt that my health was at risk,” said CLVS Council member Andrea Kreutz, CLVS, from Des Moines, Iowa.

“The CLVS Council discussed with our national team the extra personal protection equipment that would be necessary to make sure the CDC guidelines were followed. Once we arrived, we walked through each protocol to verify we knew the best procedures to maintain everyone’s safety,” she added.

“I was perfectly comfortable working at NCRA headquarters. Everyone worked together as a team to sanitize and observe physical distancing protocols,” said CLVS Council member Robert Butcher, CLVS, from Lakewood, Colo.

Butcher, who also holds NCRA’s Trial Presentation Professional certificate, said it was important for him to attend in person because of the opportunity it provides to allow council members to work with and test candidates in a hands-on manner and be able to evaluate them in person.

“I did not hear any safety concerns expressed by any testing candidates,” he added, echoing Kreutz’s belief that the candidates could see the measures taken were to protect everyone attending.

“We also made sure to allow for social distancing within the exam room itself.  In years past, the mock deponent and attorneys would sit closely together. This year’s test gave an accurate representation of current COVID distancing in depositions,” Kreutz noted.

“I believe the candidates felt we were taking as many precautions as possible with the hand sanitizer being readily available, along with a fresh mask and getting their temperature taken,” added CLVS Council Chair Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, from Lawrenceburg, Ind. “It all seemed very smooth and organized.”

As for the spring 2021 CLVS Production Exam, members of the CLVS Council agree they will be ready.

According to Kruetz, the council will continue to work diligently with NCRA staff to protect all parties. “We will closely monitor the CDC guidelines as they change and are hopeful that we can provide a safe, comfortable environment for the testing process,” she said.

“Be confident that we are all in this together. The CLVS Council takes safety seriously and we will continue to observe any local restriction and health safety requirements,” Butcher added.

“We have an amazing group of professionals who care about the industry and the CLVS standards we operate by. I am encouraged as we move forward in this new COVID/post-COVID world, that we will find legal video and legal tech services become more critical than ever in the legal process,” he said.

“It is because of this CLVS must rise to the challenge. I am confident as the CLVS Council continues to work together, re-writing study and testing materials, this council will elevate the industry and our standards to the next level, strengthening the industry and our role within the legal process. We must be forward thinking and persevere even in the face of current challenges. We hope to see you in Spring 2021,” Butcher added.

Fall CLVS Production Exam held at NCRA HQ

By Mindy Sindiong

Back row left to right: Robert Butcher, CLVS, David Jenkins, CLVS, Jon Moretti, CLVS, Tim Janes, CLVS
Front row left to right: Andrea Kreutz, CLVS, Mindy Sindiong, CLVS

On Oct. 21, six brave CLVS Council members volunteered their time and made their way onto airplanes and flew east to Reston, Va., during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CLVS Council believes that the best way to verify if a candidate is ready for the high-stress legal videography field is to see them in action. The hands-on test can be nerve-racking but capturing legal video in a room full of attorneys during COVID-19 won’t be easy either. Candidates are evaluated on their knowledge of video equipment, conduct during a simulated deposition, and the quality of their recorded files.

[Read about the safety precautions NCRA followed for the exam.]

Beyond the test, we are not just legal videographers. We also do advertising, business marketing, drone services, picture-in-picture, remote video, and remote picture-in-picture. We do this without recording in video conferencing software or any potentially unsecure platform. The Council’s 2021 goals include rewriting the CLVS Guide to Video Depositions, updating the online learning modules, and hosting regular, online interactive discussions with members. We want to make sure the court reporter is confident they are hiring the best candidate for their clients when they request a CLVS.

The CLVS Council would like to thank the NCRA staff for their hospitality and willingness to assist us in conducting the testing process during these challenging times. Big applause to Cynthia Andrews, Senior Director, Education and Certification; Amy Davidson, Director, Certification and Testing; Ellen Goff, Assistant Director, Professional Development; Tess Perdue, Certification and Testing Program Manager; and Sandra Bryant, Credentialing Coordinator.

CLVS Council members who attended the production exam at NCRA’s offices in Reston, included Chair Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, Lawrenceburg, Ind.; Robert Butcher, CLVS, Lakewood, Colo.; Tim Janes, CLVS, Louisville, Ky.; David B. Jenkins, CLVS, Minnetonka, Minn.; Andrea M. Kreutz, CLVS, Des Moines, Iowa; and Jon Moretti, CLVS, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

CLVS Council Chair Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, is from Lawrenceburg, Ind.

Uncertified Zoom court recordings in Illinois

A blog posted Sept. 7 on Legal Video Forum discusses a recent ruling in Illinois about video recording in court.

Read more.

COVID-19: Looking back through the lens

COVID-19 has been a huge learning experience for many legal videographers. We, like our court reporters, watched as the jobs on our calendars quickly disappeared, seemingly without end. This time of uncertainty provided us with ample time to reevaluate what the future of legal video may look like while also challenging us to provide our services without having to be in the same room.

What have we learned? Most importantly, we’ve learned to adapt. We’ve learned that the record button in videoconferencing software may look enticing but does not compare to the training and technical ability of our certified legal videographers. Our continuous monitoring and redundant recordings are unmatched for reliability. We have taken the standard in-room equipment and reconfigured it to allow us to record proceedings remotely.

The CLVS Council, together with the NCRA Board, released a statement this past spring, highlighting a few issues with using the record function built in the videoconferencing software. We cautioned: “Due to factors outside of anyone’s control, one may be surprised to have no video at all.” But what factors are we referring to? Why is it not advisable to record video depositions using this “record” function? The CLVS Council is providing further details here for those who are interested in learning more.

We recognize that the various videoconferencing software options have been a godsend to our industry during these times. We also recognize that they are first and foremost just that, videoconference platforms. While it is nice that they offer many options that enhance their abilities, the record function, though enticing to use, is not in your best interest to press into service. You are documenting a video deposition for a court of law, and reliability is of the utmost importance. Case in point: Zoom’s website indicates that if the Zoom meeting unexpectedly shuts down at any time, any recordings of the meeting could be irretrievably lost. In addition, after the meeting is concluded, the video recording requires a lengthy conversion process before files are made available to the user. If that conversion process fails for any reason or is interrupted, Zoom warns that the recordings could be irretrievably lost as well. This is one reason why the CLVS Council recommends to all reporting agencies and legal videographers that remote video depositions be recorded outside the videoconferencing platform. While this alone may warrant such a warning, there are further reasons why the CLVS Council offers this recommendation.

Additionally, videoconferencing platforms do not provide a dedicated recording monitor while the meeting is taking place. Without a recording monitor, no assurance is given of what precisely is being recorded and exactly how in real time. For example, did you know that videoconferencing recordings are often recorded at wildly different resolutions throughout the meeting due to bandwidth issues? There’s no way to tell whether a bandwidth problem is occurring or when.

Here’s another example: If you pin the witness to your first monitor and allow screen-sharing on your second monitor, what will the videoconference record? What is on your first monitor? Your second monitor? Both monitors together?

What about other setups? As videoconferencing platforms tweak their software from week to week due to growing demand, could this inadvertently affect precisely how the recordings take place? With no recording monitor and only after the conversion process is complete can one go back and review the recorded files, and at this point the deposition is already over. One has no recourse at this point if the recording is not as expected or is lost entirely.

The NCRA/CLVS standards for recording video depositions include the ability to continuously monitor the video recording, as well as to record simultaneous, redundant recordings of the deposition in case one recording fails or is corrupted:

CLVS STANDARD #6: “Any video format is acceptable for the purpose of recording depositions provided that a simultaneous backup video recording is made.”
CLVS STANDARD #43 and #44: “The videographer shall continuously monitor the video recording…[and] the videographer shall monitor the audio continuously throughout the deposition…”

These standards ensure a complete and faithful capture of the deposition even if one device or piece of software inadvertently fails. Clearly, the “record” function in videoconferencing software was never intended for legal procedures. The good news is there are multiple ways for a legal videographer to record a remote deposition outside of the videoconferencing platform using additional software and hardware.

CLVS members across the country have quickly responded to provide safe and reliable recordings of remote video depositions, just as court reporters have learned how to do the same for remote depositions not requiring video. If you are a legal videographer, stay informed on best practices for remote videos.

All of these things are positive, knowledge-building skills that better position us for our future. What if attorneys have found they enjoy having the extra time added to their schedules and not having to spend time in the airports? What if they want to continue remote videography for years to come? Now we know that we can handle whatever the world may throw at us while capturing the record whether in person or remote.

If you have further questions about how a legal videographer can safely and properly record remote depositions according to NCRA standards, you can reach out to the CLVS Council directly at clvs@ncra.org.

This article was written and published on behalf of the NCRA’s Certified Legal Video Specialist Council. Thanks to all of the members of the CLVS Council: Chairs LaJuana Pruitt, CLVS, and Melinda Sindiong, CLVS; and members Louis Chiodo, CLVS; Tim Falk, CLVS; Doug Gerash, CLVS; Tim Janes, CLVS; David B. Jenkins, CLVS; John Jensen, CLVS; Andrea M. Kreutz, CLVS; and Rick Spector, CLVS.

Former court reporter celebrates her CLVS certification

Chandler Alvino, left, and Deborah Alvino, RPR, CRR, CRC, CLVS

Deborah Alvino, RPR, CRR, CRC — and CLVS — has been a member of NCRA for about 20 years. A former official and freelance court reporter who holds several professional certifications marking her stenographic skills, Alvino said she was motivated to earn the CLVS certification after a car accident that left her with torn cartilage in her wrist that required two surgeries to repair the damage.

Today she works as a full-time legal videographer and is owner of Coastal Legal Video Specialists, in Pismo Beach, Calif., a firm that provides an array of video services, including depositions, synchronized video with a reporter’s transcripts, day-in-the-life videos, video mediation documents, last will and testament recording, construction videos, sworn statements, and more. Her firm has clients in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties.

“I had been an official and then freelance reporter for 15 years and just got certified as a broadcast captioner, but I was not able to report after nerve damage caused by one of the wrist surgeries,” Alvino said. 

“I really missed reporting and seeing my wonderful reporter friends, so I reinvented myself, got trained and certified as a CLVS, and started Coastal Legal Video Specialists on the central coast of California in 2012,” which she notes has now become a family affair. 

“My son Dalton and my daughter Chandler have since joined me in the business. After being a videographer for a year, Chandler decided to go to court reporting school also and is now a high-speed student getting ready to take the RPR test and then the California CSR. I’m so proud of her and so happy that we will have another excellent reporter soon,” she added.

Alvino said she uses her videography skills on a daily basis, whether she’s in a deposition (or now working remotely during quarantine), at a site inspection, will signing, press release for a law firm, or a judicial awards ceremony.

She said the greatest benefit of earning her CLVS certification is being recognized as a trained, qualified professional in her field by reporting agencies and attorneys, since not all videographers know about legal video procedures, technology, ethics, or even how to act in a legal setting. 

“I would encourage others to earn the CLVS certification because you never know when you may need the skills, even if you are primarily still reporting.  I absolutely love working alongside my reporter friends and helping make their jobs a little easier by providing great audio, the best chair in the office, looking up spellings, and giving them just any support that they need.”

A reminder from NCRA concerning videoconferencing and recording

Your NCRA Board and the CLVS Council are aware of questions of whether the “record” function in a videoconference platform can be employed to create a usable video record.

Employing the “record” function within a videoconference platform to create a usable video cannot be guaranteed. Due to factors outside of anyone’s control, one may be surprised to have no video at all.  NCRA CLVS standards exist in order to provide the client a certified, objectively managed, and backed-up video record that can be used in official proceedings.

The CLVS community has the means and methods to ensure a useable video record separate from the “record” function within the videoconferencing platform. If you have questions about how a legal videographer can safely and properly record remote depositions according to NCRA standards, you can reach out to the CLVS Council directly at clvs@ncra.org. 

Please note, too, that the online Stenopalooza event, held May 2, provided a seminar for CLVS members to further their education regarding proper procedures for the recording of remote video depositions. CLVS members are encouraged to view this seminar when it becomes available on May 6 at http://ncra.inreachce.com.

NCRA Board of Directors

Registration opens Feb. 20 for the NCRA CLVS Production Exam

Registration opens Feb. 20 for the next Certified Legal Videographer Production Exam being held March 27-28 at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va. Space is limited, so candidates are encouraged to sign up early before registration closes on March 15.

Candidates who attend the March dates may also register for one of two Hands-on Training sessions, which are held prior to the Production Exam.

During the Production Exam, candidates will run the show at a staged deposition and be graded on their ability to follow video deposition guidelines and to produce a usable, high-quality video of the deposition. Candidates must have taken the mandatory CLVS Certification Workshop first, which is available online, and are strongly encouraged to take the Hands-on Training. Candidates are strongly encouraged to complete the educational components first as questions on the exam are developed from the materials provided.

Motivated candidates may also take the CLVS Written Knowledge Test (WKT) in March.

The CLVS Production Exam is administered two times a year: spring and fall (depending on interest). The cost of the exam is $325 for NCRA members and $425 for nonmembers. The Mandatory Certification Workshop, Hands-on Training, and CLVS WKT are covered under separate fees.

To learn more about the CLVS program or to register for the CLVS Production Exam and/or Hands-on Training, visit NCRA.org/CLVS.

NCRA members who hold another credential, such as the RPR, can earn 0.25 PDC each after passing the CLVS Written Knowledge Test and the CLVS Production Exam.

Please contact NCRA by calling 800-272-6272 or email testing@ncra.org for more information.

A family affair turns into a CLVS story

By Andrea Kreutz

A Certified Legal Video Specialist has to be prepared for the unexpected at all times. Typically, these surprises include last-minute job scheduling, additional unexpected attendees, and rooms almost too small to fit our equipment in. And so, we prepare for hours and pack a backup for our backup in case our backup fails.

Even with all this preparation, the most experienced CLVS gets thrown a curveball on occasion. Such was the case recently when I was scheduled to record a car seat expert for a motor vehicle accident. The job assignment was out of town, so I left the office plenty early in hopes of having a calm setup. Twenty minutes from my destination, my phone rang, and I was informed that the deposition had been rescheduled for three hours later. No problem! After an extended Target field trip, I arrived and was ready to go before the attorneys arrived.

All was well until the witness appeared — with four small children in tow. Three of the children ran into the room while the fourth was sleeping and strapped to his mother’s back. We were on the record only a few minutes when the youngest awakened and popped his head over his mother’s shoulder to see what all the noise was about. I expected the attorneys to go off the record, but they continued.

At first, the toddlers were playing a handheld video game – and we politely and repeatedly asked the toddlers to turn the volume down. After 20 minutes, they progressed to a water fight. Thankfully, we did go off the record, and I was able to protect my equipment from the water.

The witness also used this opportunity to breastfeed the young boy. The next few hours included the toddlers almost knocking over the reporter’s laptop, successfully knocking over my backdrop, and multiple breastfeeding breaks. Thankfully, no children were hurt!

I was hopeful the last few hours would be uneventful as I could tell the attorneys were losing their patience. My feelings were confirmed when the youngest started to fuss again and in a brief discussion off the record, I was asked to “just zoom in on her face” while she breastfed him.

Insert stunned emoji. Wait, you want me to what? Blink. Blink. The witness was in agreement, we could continue. I zoomed in and said a silent prayer as I closely monitored the framing of the witness’s face on my screen. Everything went smoothly for about ten minutes. Picture a mother’s face up close as she testifies about the different aspects of car seat safety.

And then it happened: The hand of the little boy being fed popped into the shot and started patting his mother’s cheek. Then, he patted her other cheek and back to the first. I could not believe what was happening. Just when you think it can’t get worse, he calmly stuck his fingers in her mouth. This didn’t even phase this mother.

I learned through the course of the day that she has six children total. The oldest two were at school, and the youngest four were in this room. Applause to the joys of motherhood.

The deposition concluded within a few minutes, and both sides ordered a copy of the video. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I had calmly and successfully delivered an excellent video and experience despite all the challenges. The reporter had hung in there with me and coincidentally had the last name of Nelson. We now refer to this character-building experience as the “Baby Hands Nelson deposition.”

Andrea Kreutz, CLVS, is an agency owner based in Des Moines, Iowa. She can be reached at andreak@huneyvaughn.com.

Earn your CLVS this spring — Your first step is online!

Start now and you can earn your Certified Legal Video Specialist (CLVS) certification this spring. The process for earning the CLVS includes three steps: 1) completing the educational training, consisting of a mandatory online workshop and an optional hands-on training session; 2) passing a hands-on test of what you’ve learned in a simulated deposition; and 3) passing a written knowledge test.

The first step is to complete the CLVS Mandatory Certification Workshop, which is available online. The Workshop includes an introduction and nine modules covering everything you need to know to be prepared to record a deposition with confidence. The materials include a review of the equipment needed, ethical considerations, how to work with the court reporter, and much more. The online component includes all of the information you need to complete the mandatory educational portion of the CLVS certification.

The second part of the educational component is an optional Hands-on Training, which is scheduled in conjunction with this spring’s CLVS Production Exam. During the hands-on session, CLVS candidates have the opportunity to go over the practical test, participate in a mock deposition, and gain valuable experience with the camera they will be using in the test.

“We did not have a hands-on class when I took my practical test,” said Mindy Sindiong, CLVS, owner of De Bene Esse Media in Cincinnati, Ohio, and co-chair of NCRA’s CLVS Council. The Council leads the CLVS Seminar and administers the Production Exam. “Having the hands-on session would have saved a lot of worry and anxiety had I been able to take it.”

In March, registration will open for both the Production Exam and Hands-on Training, which are scheduled for April 5-6, at NCRA’s headquarters in Reston, Va. Space is limited so candidates are encouraged to sign up early. Registration closes on March 22.

For the Production Exam, candidates will run the show at a staged deposition and be graded on their ability to follow video deposition guidelines and to produce a usable, high-quality video of the deposition. Candidates must have taken the online CLVS Mandatory Certification Workshop, available online through InReach, prior to taking either the Production Exam or the Written Knowledge Test. Candidates must complete the educational components prior to taking the CLVS Production Exam. Candidates can take the CLVS WKT in January, April, July, and October each year.

Registration for the Written Knowledge Test for the CLVS will next open in March. Register for a test by March 31 and schedule your test between April 9-23 to complete the three-step process, and you will be well on your way to earning the CLVS.

To learn more about the CLVS program, visit NCRA.org/CLVS

NCRA members who hold another credential, such as the RPR, can earn 0.25 PDC each after passing the CLVS Written Knowledge Test and the CLVS Production Exam.

Please contact NCRA by calling 800-272-6272 or email testing@ncra.org for more information.

Ask the techie: How to use a foot pedal to listen to a videographer’s audio while you edit

The NCRA Technology Committee is taking your questions on topics surrounding realtime and technology. Send the questions you want the Technology Committee members to tackle to jcrfeedback@ncra.org.

Dear Techie:

Videotaped depositions are being scheduled more frequently for me lately. I’m one of those reporters who likes to listen to the videographer’s audio when proofing my transcripts — it’s so much clearer because of the witnesses and attorneys being mic’d up! I’d like to know how I can easily listen to the videographer’s audio with my foot pedal. I know I can convert the .mp3 file to a .wav file and then associate the audio with my transcript; but I want a simple and easy way to just listen to the .mp3 file. Help!

Playing footsie


Dear Playing:

It’s great to hear that you are getting more work! Congrats! Here are a few ideas on what to look for when you are considering a foot pedal.

Lynette Mueller, FAPR, RDR, CRR, a freelancer based in Memphis, Tenn., and Chair of NCRA’s Technology Committee, offered the following. 
Backup audio media (BAM) is the term used for any audio recording and can include the audio synchronization tool built into a court reporter’s computer-aided transcription (CAT) software. Here are three best practices related to audio backup:

  1. It is the obligation of a professional court reporter to stop the proceedings when the speed of testimony presents an issue, if you didn’t hear a word, or when speakers are talking at the same time.
  2. One must never rely on the audio backup to create an official record. Readbacks occur often during the proceedings, and you don’t want to play back the audio for your client when a readback is requested.
  3. If audio backup is requested by a client, check with your specific state rules in regard to your obligation to do so. If you do, however, provide a copy of the BAM, be sure to offer the same service to opposing counsel. Ensure that no off-the-record discussions are included in the recording.

NCRA has additional guidelines to help court reporters regarding best practices related to audio recordings. Look on the NCRA website for Section IV: Backup Audio Media in the COPE – Guidelines for Professional Practice.

Vpedal USB Transcription Foot Pedal, 3 Function

There are several options for good foot pedals for court reporters to aid in transcript production for playback of audio. I have used the vPedal for several years and love it! It works with my CAT software for those times I need it and it works seamlessly in conjunction with AudioSync. Look to your CAT software vendor if help is needed to set up the foot pedal for use during edit. Amazon is every court reporter’s friend and you can purchase the vPedal on Amazon.

For videotaped depositions, it’s always great when the videographer provides the audio backup. It’s a great resource for us, for sure! The witness and attorneys are mic’d up, and the audio is clear and crisp. Most of the CAT software requires a .wav file as the backup media. While there are plenty of options to convert the .mp3 from the videographer to a .wav file, sometimes there are occasions where it’s faster and easier to just upload the file to Windows Media Player and you’re good to go! Another added benefit of using the foot pedal is that it saves time because of not having to take your hands off the keyboard during edit. WMP is included in clean installs of Windows 10 as well as upgrades to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

Things you’ll need to get started

  1. Foot pedal of choice. Mine is vPedal, as mentioned above.
  2. Foot pedal installation CD or get the Hot Keys application
  3. Windows Media Player software
  4. vPedal Windows Media Player Plug-in

Steps for Installation of Windows Media Player and Foot Pedal

  1. Connect the foot pedal following the instructions on your installation CD or from the Hot Keys application downloaded from the website. The installation CD will configure the foot pedal to the computer and install a control application from which you may set up shortcuts and commands. Again, if you wish to use the foot pedal within your CAT software, check with your vendor for assistance, if needed. I pinned my Hot Keys application to my taskbar for easy access!
  2. Install the vPedal WMP plug-in from their website. This plug-in has been tested on Windows XP thru to Windows 10.
  3. Here is a detailed list of steps to take once your plug-in has been installed.

Steps for uploading audio files to Windows Media Player

  1. Know the location of your audio file you wish to utilize.
  2. Open the WMP application. (I have it pinned to my taskbar.)
  3. Locate the videographer’s audio, select it, then highlight the file to drag it into the WMP application.
  4. Next, open up your vPedal Hot Keys application. My settings on the application: Back seconds step: 5; Forward seconds step: 5; Release seconds step: 2; Tap Enabled.
  5. Highlight the file you wish to listen to and double-click. The file will start to play.
  6. I strike the middle of the foot pedal to stop playback of the file.
  7. I strike the middle of the foot pedal to resume the audio.

Tip: If you have your audio file associated with your text file, you may want to consider using a text-only file when using the videographer’s audio within WMP. You could get two audio files playing at the same time when using the foot pedal.

WMP supports many different file types.  Learn more about Windows Media Player, troubleshooting problems, and how to customize Windows Media Player with easily installed skins, visualizations, and plug-ins for a new look and extra features.

Myrina Kleinschmidt, RMR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer and agency owner based in Wayzata, Minn., and a member of the Technology Committee, shared the following suggestions. 
We’ve used GearPlayer by TranscriptionGear for three years. The transcription software we were using before GearPlayer did not allow us to play back audio and view video files — only audio. We specifically switched to this software so that we could have the option of listening to audio alone or listen to audio and view the video — all accomplished with the ease of foot pedal control. With some witnesses it helps to be able to see their mouth while preparing a transcript (slurred speech, mumblers, low talkers, accents). Sometimes I like to verify if the witness nodded or indicated, so the video is also nice for that. If the videographer can give you the full video file(s) versus just the audio, then you have the full advantages of having mic’d audio and video viewing when needed in preparing the transcript.

Infinity USB Digital Foot Control with Computer plug (IN-USB2)

This link is all you need to know about the GearPlayer software. It’s $119 for each computer; so if you want it on two computers, you will need two licenses. You can download a full-feature free trial and test it for five days. I purchased the USB foot pedal from them ($49 at the time – IN-USB-2 Foot Pedal by Infinity). With this program you have the option of using a foot pedal or the keyboard and mouse, so you could try out the trial program without a foot pedal to see if you like it before purchasing.

It’s simple to use. I drag and drop the file into the work space. It figures out the format and will play it back. Some of the audio format files I’ve played on this recently are .mp3, .m4a, and a .wav file. For video format files, I recently have played back an .mp4 and .mov — all drag, drop, and play. The program has a built-in converter so if it doesn’t recognize the format, it will give you an option of trying to convert the file to something it can play. You can play back from the videographer’s video CD or DVD as well, no converting needed. A nice feature is you get audio feedback when rewinding and fast forwarding, sounding similar to the old tape dictation machines. Sometimes when I need to play a file and am not at a computer that has GearPlayer, I realize how much I like the feedback feature. It makes it easier for me to know when to stop rewinding.

Sound quality can be adjusted for soft voices and noise reduction, as well as playback speed. There are other features which I have not used that are all explained in this GearPlayer link.

Sandra Mierop, FAPR, RPR, CRR, CRC, a freelancer and agency owner based in Anchorage, Alaska, uses Express Scribe and offers the following.
I’ve used Express Scribe Pro for many years. A free version is available, but after I used it a couple of times, I made the purchase on Amazon. The Pro version accepts virtually any audio format, including videos.

Express Scribe Pro Transcription Software with USB Foot Pedal

Express Scribe has many features that help you work faster, including shortcuts for starting/stopping the audio, rewinding, forwarding, playing fast speed, and playing slow speed. I like the “auto backstep on stop” feature when scoping a video, allowing you to automatically rewind a word or two from where you left off. I up the speed to about 150 percent when proofreading with the foot pedal, and the audio is still surprisingly clear.

Express Scribe is very easy to use. Once you have it installed, it is just a matter of dragging and dropping an audio file into it, and you can begin listening immediately. A challenge with Express Scribe is that some of its shortcuts interfere with my CAT shortcuts, and those shortcuts cannot be changed in Express Scribe.

Tip: Save your codes when you purchase Express Scribe so that you don’t have to purchase it again when you change computers.