Well, this is a bit different. I do a lot of video interviews. I am usually the one quietly asking polite questions while someone else sits in the limelight talking about their business or about some subject of interest. Now Project Counsel and Greg Bufithis have turned the tables and interviewed me.
The blog post published this week comes under the heading “The ones to watch”: a video chat with Chris Dale. It is the third in a series of interviews (the others were Ron Friedmann and Rob Robinson) in which people are asked about what we do and what path we followed to get there.
Much of their video, consistent with the theme of Greg Bufithis’s series, is about how I first got into eDiscovery and into commentary on discovery and its satellite subjects. Much of it, however, is about the value of video as a means of spreading ideas and promoting products, services, ideas and people.
The move into video
About five years ago, my youngest son Will (who is a lighting engineer) suggested that I supplement my purely written output with video. The DSLR cameras which we used for ordinary photographs had become sophisticated video cameras as well, and the addition of some lighting and audio made it possible to capture interviews. The most obvious place to find a people to interview is at big events, and I started taking Will and the equipment to conferences in the UK, the US, Hong Kong and Brussels. My eldest son, Charlie, is a sound engineer and is generally techie, and he started coming too, bringing audio expertise, as well as an extra pair of hands, to the productions.
Quite a lot of people were presenting videos when we began, many of them by holding up an iPhone and getting people to talk into it. Will was insistent that we did it only if we could produce a consistently high quality, not merely of interviewee, but of technical output. We do without lengthy introductions, and pitch straight into the first question. We need the minimum of preparation, and most are filmed in one take.
This interview with Craig Ball, filmed at Relativity Fest 2018 in Chicago, is a typical example.
It took a lot of equipment to do this – three cameras, at least four lights, tripods for each of them and ancillary bits and pieces. Carrying it and, setting it up and taking it down became major projects.
Last year at Legaltech we took a large room and converted it into a studio with green screens. It was very convenient – we did not have to take anything down all week, and interviewees came to us. The drawbacks were the amount of equipment we carried, the not insignificant cost of the suite and, critically, the fact that it left me stuck away from the Legaltech action.
For this year, we have re-equipped to make ourselves lighter on our feet and more mobile. The “proper” video camera has been replaced by a small Sony A7 III. Smaller and more powerful lights have the side-advantage that they can be mounted on the cameras rather than needing their own tripods. A small voice recorder will cover podcasts and panel recordings as well as input for the Lavalier microphones.
Where time and space allows, we will still use a fairly full rig, but we ought to be able to set up and be ready for shooting much more quickly than we were in the past, and with a smaller footprint; that in turn allows us to move around more. Crucially, we will maintain the quality which we are used to.
Who gets interviewed?
Having a reasonable number of these videos is a benefit of sponsorship of the eDisclosure Information Project, that is, we make no charge either for the time or the equipment for those who are sponsors. That represents a substantial cost to me, not least since I cover the flights, hotels and food for the son or sons accompanying me.
We have never seriously promoted video as a freestanding option, but we do it at a price which reflects the time and skill, the cost of the logistics and, not least, the serious investment in equipment. Videos remain free to sponsors and to those (like judges or Craig Ball) whose reputation and knowledge adds lustre to my blog. Otherwise, the price reflects what is being bought – whether I am involved, for example, as interviewer, for voice-over, or for subsequent promotion.
Will, Charlie and I will be in New York for Legal Week. The schedule of sponsor videos (and sponsors get priority in all things) is pretty full, but there is space for others, particularly if I am not involved in them. It will be hard to miss us, so do flag us down and ask us about doing a video with you.
Beyond Legaltech, the same service is available to anyone with something to talk about – solicitors or barristers with a niche to promote are obvious examples. The value is not limited to lawyers.
Meanwhile, many thanks to Greg Bufithis and Project Counsel for the interview.