As a trial attorney, "day in the life" videos,
"settlement documentaries" and forensic
animation are extremely valuable tools when
produced by reliable legal video specialists.
These are different realms from videotaping
depositions. More is needed than technical
equipment skills on the part of the producer.
Day In The Life
The day-in-the-life had its origin in the early
1960's. (See "History of day-in-the-life")
Although some of the earlier attempts were
not accepted into court because of inappro-
priate emphasis on suffering, "day in the life"
videos are now commonly used in severe
injury cases. Admissibility is better under-
stood now, though it's still important to be
sure the video emphasizes the changes that
have taken place because of the disability.
The legal videographer who enters the home
of the plaintiff to be videotaped, needs tact
and common sense in dealing with people.
A common challenge in "day in the life" is
television watching which may need to be
interrupted so the person can be videotaped.
The legal video specialist should be aware
of camera "white balance" issues, especially
when there are fluorescent lights. Attention
to potential negative prejudicial items can
make a difference as well. An extreme ex-
ample would be if exercise equipment (that
could not possibly be used by the injured)
were in the home, it would probably need
to be avoided in the videotaping. If only
one of the jurors got a wrong idea while
watching the video with the exercise equip-
ment, it could have an negative impact on
objective jury deliberations. What an asset
when the legal videographer thinks like an
attorney and avoids such problems!
Which is better, hand-held camera work or
the use of a tripod? At any rate, some of
the hand-held work of professional camera
operators is almost as steady as if it were
videotaped with a tripod. This is the type
of decision best left up to the legal video-
grapher. One thing is certain: Don't allow
amateur hand-held camera operation. It
often makes the viewer uncomfortable.
(shaky and hard for the eye to follow)
It's also an asset for the producer to have
practical experience in the artistic matters
of media. Video and film productions, for
the most part, are methods of communica-
tion within their own "language". How a
production is divided up into scenes and
shots is part of the language which almost
all of us take for granted. Just as reading a
great novel does not change a person into
a great writer of novels, watching movies
does not give us a real understanding of
the language of film and video. Although
we follow the series of shots and get what
is intended by the media creators, we are
not aware that the long shot has prepared
us for the medium shot which led up to
a close-up, and so on. The videographer
who has an understanding of the language
of video can create a day-in-the-life that
not only documents the "life change", but
communicates clearly and effectively.
The result if an impressive presentation
that has a real impact on the jury.
Although a settlement documentary video
may contain part or all of a day-in-the-life,
one thing sets it apart: There are no rules.
Since it's not intended to be seen by a jury,
admissibility is not an issue. Its purpose is
to persuade the opposition to negotiate or
to get a better settlement by demonstrating
what they would be up against if the case
were to go to court.
One thing commonly used in settlement
documentaries is interviews. Those who
might be interviewed are family members,
doctors, experts, and eye witnesses. The
attorney who ordered the video could be
a part of it himself. This would allow the
opposition to see the skills of the attorney.
More about settlement documentaries