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A quick look at HD vs SD for your next video deposition

July 8, 2015

Do you want to see the wrinkles or scars on your witnesses face for your next deposition?

Shooting legal videos in high definition and standard definition video are the two most used video formats. But which should you choose for your next deposition? Standard definition takes up less space, but high definition has better graphics – Let’s take a closer look.

HD vs SD

High definition (HD) video means having a very clear picture and a wide screen format.  Standard definition (SD) is a format providing a picture quality below HD and lacks the sharpness of HD.

There are two key differences between SD and HD: resolution and aspect ratio.


Resolution is the maximum number of distinct pixels that can be displayed in an image. A pixel is any of a number of very small picture elements that make up a picture, as on a visual display unit, and the word origin is from pix- or pictures plus -el (ement). The more pixels there are, the higher the quality. HD video has many more pixels than SD, giving it higher resolution and therefore a better image. HD has a resolution of 1920×1080p or greater.

Aspect Ratio

Aspect Ratio is basically the height and width of the video. Ever notice a video from 10+ years ago looks stretched on a wide-screen TV. That’s because its aspect ratio (or height and width) are formatted for a different device. Although HD is recorded in a wide screen format, due to its high quality it can be cropped and reformatted for any device, even those that required standard definition videos.

As with any newer technology there are pros and cons to consider when deciding which format to use for a deposition.

So what are the pros of having a HD video of your deposition?

First, the picture quality will be clear. Second, the video will have enough detail that it can be repurposed for any device – even standard definition TV’s. (SD video will end up looking fuzzy on high definition devices and potentially leave a negative impression on those viewing it.) As people begin watching more HD videos on HD capable devices, they’ll prefer that format over SD video. Additionally, and the cost to shoot, edit and watch in HD will continue to go down. Finally, shooting video in HD ensures that the details of your video are available in the future.

So what are some of the cons of HD?

In order to edit HD video, a lot of computing power is necessary. If the PC you are using for editing is a few years old, editing HD video will be tedious and time consuming. By hiring a court reporting firm that offers video depositions will help with this as they can edit the video for you. Additionally, HD cameras cost more than an SD camera. Although, prices are falling year over year, if you’re hiring a videographer this cost is not relevant as they will have their own device.

In summary, knowing how you’re going to use the video will dictate whether you need HD or SD. We don’t recommend either SD or HD necessarily since both are versatile depending how the video will be used and the cost is about the same. If you are not sure how you will be using your legal video you can contact us and we can work together to find the best strategy that fits your needs.