I know absolutely nothing about becoming and being a videographer, but am intrigued with this profession. Hopefully, one or more of you can help me with some answers to my questions. What type of training is required, how long is the training, what's the cost of training and where is training offered? What type of equipment is needed and what is the cost of equipment? Are the majority of videographers employed by reporting firms or are they freelancers? What is the average income for a full-time videographer? And any other information you can give me about the profession of videography will be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for anyone's help and/or input. This seems like a profession that will become more in demand as time goes on.

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Hi Deanie. Let me try to help.

1. Training. There are currently 2 organizations offering certifications for Legal Videographers. The NCRA, and The AGCV. I chose the AGCV after research because I felt they offered more. You can check them out at www.agcv.com.
My training took 4 days at a cost of $900.00 plus travel. The AGCV has seminars scheduled every month and the locations are on the website.

2. Equipment. You will need a high quality camera such as a Canon GL-1 or better, and a recording source such as a dvd/vhs recorder. This is the BARE MINIMUM. You will also need lavaliere microphones, an audio mixer, a cassette recorder, and a rack to hold all of this. You can expect to spend $3000.00 and up for this equipment. I have about $4500.00 into my deposition rack.

3. Income. Rates for depositions vary of course by market but $150.00 / hr is not uncommon.

4. Employment. In my humble opinion I believe most videographers are freelance.

I caution you about leaping into this field if you have had no experience with a camera. The AGCV WILL NOT accept you if you haven't done other video work prior to taking their class.

If I can be of any further assistance please feel free to contact me at jdhock@chartermi.net

Legal Eyes Forensic Video Services
Hi Deanie,

Not to be a wet blanket, but this is not a good time to become a videographer, much less a legal videographer. Before the recession, there was already lots of downward pressure on videography rates. The dot-com thing created a lot of videographers, and when it went bust they all tried to become legal videographers. Then national corporations entered the market in large numbers, offering lower rates, lots of related services and they were teamed up with reporting firms. They hire young and foolish videographers for as little as $15 or $20 an hour. They went to big law firms and insurance agencies and made contracts for their whole caseload, and independents were pushed even further out, and rates dropped even more.

The recession actually started last year, and things have only gotten worse. The industry is consolidating, and clients are using video even less than they used to. My own informal surveys tell me that while the number of depos remains roughly the same, the number of video depos drops off whenever there's an economic slump, such as we're in now. It's considered a luxury by most law firms, for special occasions only. Often insurance companies force this policy on them. Now, even the national legal video firms are hurting.

Mind you, the market behaves differently depending on your region. Mine is San Francisco, others may be different, but I doubt it.

I agree that your lack of experience will hurt you big time. I used to hire and train videographers to be legal videographers, and many applicants, despite a television or video degree and some projects to their credit, simply could not cut it. I also would not place much stock in any of the legal video training programs or so-called "Certifications." (there are several, not just two.) They are all unofficial, self-serving, and I found them to be no indicator of skill or professionalism. You cannot teach someone to be a legal videographer in a weekend. My own opinion is that they were formed by certain court reporting agencies as a money-making venture, and don't have the videographer's best interests in mind.

One final indicator about the videography field and legal video. As I said, I used to hire videographers. In the early part of the decade, they were tough to find, and I'd take on a lot of green hopefuls and train them. By the time I left that firm, about two years ago, I was getting resumes from graduates of Columbia, veterans of Frontline and other PBS documentary shows, veterans of news and television - I could go on. I couldn't hire them because I knew they wouldn't want the job, once they had it. But it shows you how hard up all videographers are for work.

So to be honest and kind, I would not recommend the career if you're not already in it. I would recommend going the other direction, and become a court reporter. Much better job security.
Hi Deanie,
Hey Deanie,

It's a long row to hoe indeed. But of course it depends on where you live. But having the video experience before is essential so you know all about audio and all the things that can go wrong. The reply by DCM below is true.

If you are casting about for a new career track....Why not become a teacher instead? There are " alternative certification" programs in each state that let you build on " life experience" and attend school on weekends often without tuition. There was a story in The NY Times last week. Go Google it. Visit your state's department of education website to read about the requirements. Just think about all the lives you can impact with the " rippple effect". I am still doing depos of ambulance chasers at al while now back in school on Saturdays to be a teacher. It gives meaning to me. Although I do enjoy taking depos on big cases....


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